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Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State

Figure 42. Danish Rail System as a Linking Infrastructure. Comparable to a prospective Palestinian state, Denmark is composed of separate land areas—primarily a peninsula and two islands. These are now linked by a high-speed rail line between Copenhagen and the other major cities (the trip from Copenhagen airport to Odense is 115 miles—almost identical to the distance from Rafah Airport to Nablus—and takes only 72 minutes). The final link across the Great Belt was accomplished by the engineering feat of building a rail tunnel and vehicular bridge.

Creating a successful Palestinian state poses a wide range of political, economic, social and environmental challenges. The RAND Corporation took the task of creating a study, The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State, which has won prestigious architecture awards and the praise of leading experts. From the research abstract:

An exploration of options for strengthening the physical infrastructure for a new Palestinian state, this study builds on analyses that RAND conducted between 2002 and 2004 to identify the requirements for a successful Palestinian state. That work, Building a Successful Palestinian State, surveyed a broad array of political, economic, social, resource, and environmental challenges that a new Palestinian state would face. This study, The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State, examined a range of approaches to siting and constructing the backbone of infrastructure that all states need, in the context of a large and rapidly growing Palestinian population. The research team develop a detailed vision for a modern, high-speed transportation infrastructure, referred to as the Arc. This transportation backbone accommodates substantial population growth in Palestine by linking current urban centers to new neighborhoods via new linear transportation arteries that support both commercial and residential development. The Arc avoids the environmental costs and economic inefficiencies of unplanned, unregulated urban development that might otherwise accompany Palestine’s rapid population growth. Constructing the key elements of the Arc will require very substantial investment of economic resources. It will also employ substantial numbers of Palestinian construction workers. It seems plausible that key aspects of the Arc design can be pursued, with great benefit, even before an independent Palestinian state is established.

You can download the full report here. Two of its authors, Michael Schoenbaum—Senior Economist at the RAND Corporation—and Doug Suisman, an award-winning architect and urban planner, will present their plan at the Y on April 29.

[From Architecture to Infrastructure: Creating a Palestinian State: 4/29/08]

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