$400bn utopian city to be imagined being built somewhere in America

BTW: How’s that off planeting of billionaires idea coming along. Asking for the billionaires…


Rich white men always think they can fix society’s ills by “starting over”.

It happens so often that it’s a cliché. Newly minted white billionaire? Gotta have your “imma build a utopia and THIS time it’ll solve everything” phase. Read the book Fordlandia for a great story about an early version of this (and to see how it always goes).

Hey Billionaires, how about you stop thinking you know better than everyone for five fucking seconds and help us fix the mess you made in this world.


Speak Black Woman GIF by Robert E Blackmon




Wait, it’s going to have sexy robots? That changes everything!


Or what sort of jobs/industry/economy might justify and fuel it.

Do they really think a “utopia” can be fueled by a handful of startups and a libertarian think tank or four? Mass numbers of residents will relocate to the middle of nowhere for what exactly? Instagram posts?


Yes, it goes from hell no to fuck you, no!


A bit on the architect behind the project:

"Aim is to be "the most sustainable city in the world"

Broadly based on the principles of urbanist Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities in the UK, the city would have a density of around 33 people per acre – broadly equivalent to that of San Francisco.

According to Lore, building Telosa from scratch would allow it to become “the most sustainable city in the world”."

Mr Ingels has a bit of the God complex I believe…


What could go wrong?


The only time I’ve ever heard of planned purpose-built cities succeeding is for a brand-new capitol for a country. Moving the government guarantees that there will be jobs for people to do, and other support-style jobs will follow.

You can’t just plonk down a city for 5 million people and expect it to fill up, because there are not going to be any jobs for 5 million people. If there were jobs for 5 million people in that location, there would already be a city there.


And they’ll probably be sex robots. And the city will actually be a prison, where you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave, and where the “residents” actually make those robots.

Wait a minute . . . this guy’s been reading Margaret Atwood!


Hmm… others have made the point, but what about the other 8.995 billion people (or whatever we top out at as a species). We would need many more of these and while I appreciate that there could be a proof of concept there and it could drive technological innovation, there just isn’t enough time.

Also the cost. I’m skeptical this could be done for $80,000 a head in 2021 dollars, let alone by 2030 and beyond.

Building a new city from scratch in the middle of nowhere may not be the more sustainable option anyway. Many of the technologies to drastically reduce human emissions already exist, even in a retrofit scenario. We just need to be bolder about applying them, putting stricter standards in place, and changing human behaviour to be less consumer-driven. To me that actually means we need to get these titans of industry out of the picture.


If we actually were to completely start over, it would take us a few millennia to figure out that round things roll and that we can make our own fire.

If we didn’t start quite that far back, we’d have to have people who did actual work. All these techbros are several generations removed from a speck of dirt underneath a fingernail. They have never done any work in their life, never known anyone who has, and I doubt they would even know what needed to be done.

Even if they did, they would move all the working people to a, well, less utopian city.

And that’s why we can never have nice things.


@beschizza Thank you Rob for the mention!

If San Francisco is any bell weather, money is not the answer to any municipalities issues. When the poor folk are taken out of the wider picture, the entire city suffers for it. I will always hold the monied class to count for the ruin of my City by the Bay.

Screw the rich!


Surely the most sustainable design for an efficient new master-planned city in the desert is a 100-mile long, perfectly linear city that makes no concessions for the natural terrain?


Could they at least put it on the bank of the Columbia river or someplace where water will never be a problem? Because more development in the Colorado river basin is not going to be a great idea. (Source: Planet Money’s Indicator podcast.)


Came here to say this…building a city for millions of people in the middle of the f*cking desert is not very smart.


Yes, build it in a desert where there’s a paucity of jobs that pay well. Obviously this dopey billionaire went to Dubai and brought home all the wrong lessons.


And, per this video, the planners for Dubai took all the wrong lessons from American cities, especially regarding reliance on cars and the awful suburban sprawl.


A stately pleasure-dome