- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 17 Apr 2021
Central business district (CBD)
A central business district (CBD) is the commercial and business centre of a city, often referred to as the ‘financial district’. Although many cities share their CBD with the ‘city centre’, the concepts differ, since the latter is the area of a city where significant commerce, political, cultural and power is concentrated.
CBDs traditionally developed in historic cities as the market square where there would be trade and other business activities. This would typically be in the geographic centre of the a settlement. However, as cities grew and became more populous, CBDs became a more fixed location where retail and commerce took place, often in an area away from the centre, in what are sometimes termed ‘edge cities’, e.g. Canary Wharf in London (top image).
This distance from the centre of a city to a CBD can be due to strong preservation laws and maximum building height restrictions that seek to preserve the historic character of the centre, e.g. Paris and Vienna. In the 21st century megacities of Asia, it is quite common for there to be several CBDs located across an urban area.
Some of the key characteristics of CBDs include:
- High concentration of offices, banks, financial institutions, and so on.
- High density and high-rise buildings.
- High land values.
- Lack of open and/or green space.
- Department stores and high-end shops.
- Multi-storey car parks.
- Well-managed infrastructure links with other parts of the city.
- Lack of people outside of business hours and at weekends.
- High concentration of pedestrians.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Creating comfortable climates despite extreme temperatures.
Study examines how adjustable arrangements can succeed.
Government announces plans to improve accessibility.
Resource addresses pandemic-related NEC4 contract issues.
Incorporating EDI into the provision of fair access.
Government announces global innovation strategy.
An architectural biography. Book review.
The house where the future king of France lived.
The teacher, architectural technologist and mum offers her insights.
Careful planning needed as supply chain issues continue.
The sensitive conversion of a neglected Cornwall structure.
Plan stresses local involvement in city, town and village development.