CSSR Urban Research Hub Workshop: Corporate Community Development

National Landing and Beyond Workshop

Friday, March 31, 2023 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM EDT
Van Metre Hall (formerly Founders Hall), Room 716

CSSR Urban Research Hub Workshop: Corporate Community Development

The Urban Research Hub brings together faculty, students, and community partners in individual and collaborative research projects on cities and urban life, as well as critical discourses on development, mobility, and capitalism. We are interested in sociological, anthropological, historical, and other approaches to defining and understanding cities, their limits and borders, as well as their relationships to and implications for the peri-urban and rural.  In 2018, Amazon announced Northern Virginia as the site for its second headquarters. National Landing represents a rebranding of the Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard neighborhoods by Amazon and the lead developer, JBG Smith. Since the announcement, the area is being carefully crafted to fit the overall brand image of Amazon—one that meets all the criteria of a globally shared place-branding checklist, including a brand name, unifying artistic elements, updated infrastructure and green spaces. We have come together as a group of researchers to raise the issues that have resulted from corporate community development as they relate to not only National Landing but also other urban development projects globally. 

Much of the focus of Amazon’s decision to build HQ2 in Northern Virginia has been on how the region would be impacted economically. The corporate headquarters is expected to increase employment opportunities and a demand for local labor. Further, it is expected to contribute to bolstering the image or trademark of an area, further strengthening its economic outlook for the future. Importantly, in addition to examining the intended effects of corporate urban development on an area, its community must also come to terms with the spillover effects caused by the increased economic activity and place branding. For instance, corporate urban development will exert a significant impact on the local housing market, causing skyrocketing residential housing prices that would, in turn, lower the supply of affordable housing. This raises the question: What are the specific challenges, potentials, and contributions of corporate urban development? 

We must come to terms with the fact that there is already a community that calls National Landing home now and they will see the neighborhood transform before their eyes.  Many urban planners and people more generally have rejected urban renewal in the past because of its displacement of thousands of people and destruction of existing communities, often people of color and because of its resulting creation of a “dead city”: a mere business area that is closed during the evening and weekends and only comes to life during business hours. What kind of place will National Landing be? 

Exploring and investigating the motivations and consequences of corporate urban development requires a multidisciplinary perspective from scholars, public administrators, urban planners, and developers. To understand these processes, our workshop welcomes contributions in the following streams (though other topics not listed here are also welcome): 

  • Urban Planning and Design 
  • Art/Architecture/Aesthetics 
  • Environmental Sustainability 
  • Transport and other infrastructures 
  • Economic Impact 
  • Social Responsibility 
  • Housing Affordability 
  • Residential Displacement 
  • Corporate Governance 
  • Place Making/ Place Branding 
  • Urban Renewal / Development 
  • Public Sector Participation 

Organizer: The Urban Research Hub, housed within the Center for Social Science Research (CSSR) at George Mason University (GMU)  

This will be a hybrid event. Attendees may participate in-person at the Mason Square Campus in Arlington, VA or virtually via Zoom.   

Add this event to your calendar