Toward adaptive infrastructure: the Fifth Discipline

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Modern infrastructure have been a relatively stable force for decades, ensuring that basic and critical services are met, without significantly changing their core designs or management principles. At the dawn of the Anthropocene it appears that accelerating and increasingly uncertain conditions are poised to result in a paradigm shift for infrastructure, where the environments in which they operate are changing faster than the systems themselves. New approaches are needed in the education, governance, and physical structures that constitute infrastructure systems that can respond in pace. Principles of agility and flexibility appear well suited to help guide how we transform the management and design of infrastructure. In changing how we approach infrastructure we will need to respond to increasingly wicked challenges. Infrastructure must become a Fifth Discipline, focused on learning about the rapidly changing environments and demands in which they operate, and agility and flexibility in both governance and technology reconfiguration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSustainable and Resilient Infrastructure
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


  • adaptive
  • agility and flexibility
  • Anthropocene
  • Infrastructure
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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