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The Research Triangle
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The Research Triangle
From Tobacco Road to Global Prominence

William M. Rohe

312 pages | 5 1/2 x 9 | 38 illus.
Paper 2012 | ISBN 9780812222258 | $26.50s | Outside the Americas £19.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Metropolitan Portraits
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"Delightfully engaging. Couched against the backdrop of a thorough historical and natural geographic review, the reader is enlightened regarding how the current natural and built environment features in the Research Triangle Area were shaped by past events."—Journal of Planning Literature

"When a strong scholar turns his attention to the home front, it can be both enlightening and daunting. . . . [Rohe] focuses, laser-like, on the challenges arising from the breathtaking economic development success of the Research Triangle—framed principally by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill—during the past four decades. . . . Rohe's lesson is that ever more powerful tools of regional governance and decision-making are required if we are to deal effectively with regionally driven and regionally suffered consequences."—Raleigh News & Observer

Over the past three decades, the economy of North Carolina's Research Triangle—defined by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill—has been transformed from one dependent on agriculture and textiles to one driven by knowledge-based jobs in technology, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals. Now home to roughly 1.7 million people, the Research Triangle has attracted an influx of new residents from across the country and around the world while continuing to win praise for its high quality of life. At the region's center is the 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park, one of the nation's largest and most prominent research and development campuses. Founded in 1959 through a partnership of local governments, universities, and business leaders, Research Triangle Park has catalyzed the region's rapid growth and hastened its coalescence into a single metropolitan area.

The Research Triangle: From Tobacco Road to Global Prominence describes the history, current challenges, and future prospects of this fascinating metropolitan area. Focusing on the personalities and perspectives of key actors in the development of the region, William M. Rohe traces the emergence of the Research Triangle Park and its role in the region's economic transformation. He also addresses some of the downsides of development, illustrating the strains that explosive population growth has placed on the region's school systems, natural resources, transportation infrastructure, and social cohesion. As Rohe shows, the Research Triangle is not a city in the traditional sense but a sprawling conurbation whose rapid, low-density growth and attendant problems are indicative of metropolitan life in much of America today. Although the Triangle's short-term prospects are bright, Rohe warns that troubling issues loom—the region is expected to add nearly a million residents over the next two decades—and will need to be addressed through improvements in governmental cooperation, regional planning, and civic leadership. Finally, the author outlines key lessons that other metropolitan areas can learn from the Research Triangle's dramatic rise to prominence.

William M. Rohe is Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of City and Regional Planning and Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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