Panama Pacifico

October 4, 2012

Over the years, I have participated in many community development projects.  Having been trained in City & Regional Planning, it is particularly interesting to me to see a city rise.  As I stated before, Panama is going through drastic changes characterized by major developments and expansions over the past 10 years.

As part of the treaty that gave control of the canal over to the Panamanian government, the United States reverted back lands it had taken possession of when it was in control.  This included several former military bases.  The question then became, what does a government do with all of that land?  In this case, the project was successfully put out to bid and now you have, in essence, a new city being built on top of a former base.  This project is called Panama Pacifico.

This project is the first comprehensively master-planned community in Latin America and sits on approximately 3,460 acres of land.  It sits right between the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean and when completed will have a international business park, residential living areas, schools, a town center, recreational areas, an airport amongst a lot of other amenities. Ideally, many of the companies that ship parts from around the world through the canal will use these facilities for additional component assembly.  Talk about the Global Chains of Production….

The project is amazing in and off itself; however, as a planner….it is even more amazing to me.  To watch a city built from the ground up….nothing short of amazing….to see a city go up in such a short amount of time…well, they are doing in 10 years what some haven’t been able to do in 50.  There are also some other insights that should be considered here….

There are a few structures still remaining from the former military base; as you can see they have that Latin styled roof…..nice…

But, as I said…contrasts abound!  This is the new styled housing they are building which pretty much went 100% sold out immediately.

Now the most interesting part to me regards the recognition of the global context and how that reality needs to be integrated into the process of planning cities.  Hence, the very interesting educational system they are developing in this community.

Here we have a Jewish School, Next to a French School, Next to a Venezuelan School….quite interesting….and full of implications….so often we get stuck in our own little world just like a ‘Dung Beetle’….and we only have the same view as the ‘Dung Beetle’…this is further evidence that if we don’t open up our minds and develop ourselves…the world will keep moving right along and we will find ourselves and our identities completely obsolete to the globalized world.

Once this place is built out, there will be plenty of wonderful views to behold….at the base of this hill will reside a new recreational facility….

A penchant I have developed over time, especially in an international setting, is a love for culturally authentic food.  I don’t mean fancy food necessarily, but food that supports a culturally authentic experience.  So, for lunch we Jaime, Juan Carlos and Myself stopped by the Kiosk that isn’t far from the municipal building to get a nice snack.  Just so happens the owners of this shop are family of Jaime.

No mechanically separated chicken, whole food, with plantain, beans, rice, and some salsa picante….pleased I am!!!!

On to Curundu!

www.takingownership.org

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