Tag: Livability

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Building Density with Good Design

The benefits of cities are clear, but the appropriate way to quantify density is not. An article in The Atlantic Cities discusses measuring density by people per square mile. The measurement allows architects and city planners to humanize data and incorporate amenities to create a complete picture of a well-rounded city.  The article suggests aspiring to 100,000 people per square mile. This achievable goal allows for a mix of creative building structures.  Designing cities for citizens and measuring density by people per square mile can help urban leaders create areas where, “every citizen can enjoy beauty in the form of good design,” an aspiration outlined during the CEOs for Cities Livability Challenge.


Could Building Parks Fix the Real Estate Market?

A new initiative by the Speedwell Foundation believes so.  According to an article in Atlantic Cities, the project called “Redfields to Greenfields” looks at what could happen if empty commercial sites were converted into parks.  Research is currently being developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology with the assistance of the City Parks Alliance advocacy group.  In addition, they have partnered with 11 cities in the US including Houston, Denver, Cleveland, and Atlanta to predict what might occur if a city were suddenly able to invest in buying up and converting commercial properties to parks.  Some potential outcomes are increased property values and job creation through the demolition, redesign, construction and maintenance of the parks.


American Public Prioritizes Accessibility and Livability

In Walking the Walk, data analyzed by CEOs for Cities found that walkability increases home values. An article in Greater Greater Washington discusses new evidence that confirms CEOs for Cities' findings that walkable, transit served communities are in great demand. According to a recent nationwide survey, 47% of Americans would like to live in a downtown area with walkable amenities and 59% of Americans would prefer to live in a smaller house with a shorter commute than a larger house with a longer commute. The study found that a preference for compact, urban areas was a widespread trend; a broad range of age groups is increasingly seeking housing in communities created around choice and accessibility. The importance of creating livable communities should be an important priority for areas throughout the country.


Zipcar Increases Urban Quality of Life

The availability of Zipcar, a national car sharing service and CEOs for Cities partner, holds immense benefits for cities. According at an article in Fast Company, Zipcar members are walking 21% more, biking 14% more, and using public transit 11% more than they were before joining. Beyond the use of alternative transportation, Zipcar helped almost half of its members avoid buying a car. Ultimately, Zipcar availability in a city increases public-transit use, decreases car ownership, and creates "a generally more pleasant living experience for all citizens" due to decreased traffic and congestion. Zipcar's far-reaching benefits increase connectivity and livability. That is good news for Zipcar and for cities.


Design Competition Winners Focus on Human Scale

The winners of Indianapolis' Monument Circle Idea Competition were revealed Wednesday. An article in the Indianapolis Business Journal reported that, "the competition, announced in March, came about after Indianapolis hosted a CEOs for Cities event last October that brought together local stakeholders and national experts to brainstorm ideas for making cities more livable." The group of urban leaders present at the US Initiative Livability Challenge wanted to better utilize Monument Circle, so they held a worldwide design competition. The judges chose a total of twelve dynamic finalists, whose ideas are displayed around Monument Circle. 

The contest also awarded cash prizes to the top three finalists. The first place idea by Jean-Baptiste Cuelle and Francois David, entitled "From Inertia to Inner Circle," suggested opening the circle to more pedestrian interaction. The second place idea by Ratio Architects’ Urban Design Studio, "RE:Centering Indianapolis 1001," proposed small changes to increase pedestrian activity and introduce sidewalk cafes. The third place idea by Studio Three Architects, "Nexus: Indianapolis," presented a plan for making the Northwest quadrant pedestrian only. 

Planners working on the future of Monument Circle hope to incorporate some of the ideas from the competition, which all aim to increase livability through enhanced pedestrian activity, expanded…


San Francisco Greens Streetscapes

At the US Initiative Livability Challenge in Indianapolis, local stakeholders discussed the importance of quality of place in attracting talent. Following the dialogue on the importance of good deisgn and nature in cities, an article in the New York Times discussed San Francisco's effort to turn "pavement into parks and public spaces." Pavement to Parks is a leader in the national movement against asphalt. Using parklets and small gardens in the sidewalks, San Francisco is tackling livability and city beauty by investing in community spaces.


Indianapolis Launches Placemaking Competition

One Big Idea that came out of the US Initiative Livability Challenge came to fruition this week when the Indianapolis Downtown Inc. launched the Monument Circle Idea Competition. The placemaking initiative is seeking constructive assessments “to inform future planning and uses for Monument Circle.” An article in the Indianapolis Star reports that minor tweaks stemming from the competition “would go a long way toward drawing more people to the Downtown landmark and keeping them there.” The competition, which will award a $5,000 prize to the contestant who enters the best idea for improving Monument Circle, hopes to generate ideas to make Indianapolis’ most recognizable landmark an important component of an increasingly vibrant and thriving city center.


Cleveland Sees Economic Value in Beauty

As CEOs for Cities prepares to put a big stake in the ground on placemaking as an economic development driver, we find ourselves increasingly talking about the role of beauty in cities. We tackled the concept in a big way at the Livability Challenge in October where we spent 2.5 days in Indianapolis generating Big Ideas for how a city could make beauty, in the form of art, good design and nature, always present.                   

With beauty on our brains, this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer caught our attention in a big way. After years of allowing automobiles to rule planning, Cleveland is changing course. Mayor Frank Jackson’s Group Plan Commission recommends the creation of “a more gracious public realm around a series of new investments.” The evolving plan hopes to alter Cleveland’s culture through parks and public spaces. By raising land prices and advocating for pedestrian parity, "the recommendations embody the idea that civic beauty could be an economic development tool for a shrinking Great Lakes metropolis trying to turn itself around." 


New Report Released on Livability and Economic Growth

Philips recently released Liveanomics: Urban Liveability and Economic Growth, the second of two Economic Intelligence Reports on urbanism. The report examines the importance of livability and the role of business in a successful urban area. While every city is different, FedEx CEO Fred Smith believes that to have any prosperous city, “you have to have both good economies and good quality of life-they feed each other.” The report also finds that city livability is a very important part of forming an attractive economic place. Ultimately, livability and economic development are inextricably tied: livability draws business and “businesses play a central part in developing a city’s quality of life—by investing in the built environment, by funding cultural venues and events and by engaging in other forms of corporate philanthropy.”  The report further supports the importance of both quality of place and quality of opportunity in building a successful urban space. 


Miami 21 Wins National Planning Excellence Award

Miami 21, the comprehensive planning blueprint for the City of Miami in the 21st century as envisioned by former Mayor Manny Diaz, received the American Planning Association's 2011 National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice. The profession’s highest honor recognized the sustainable and efficient development plan for the future for its innovative use of form-based code, a means of regulating development to achieve a specific urban form. “This award is a validation of our dream and desire to turn Miami into a walkable, livable city," said Ana Gelabert-Sanchez, Harvard Loeb Fellow 10-11 and former Planning Director for the City of Miami. The blueprint aims to make Miami a “unique, vibrant place to live, learn, work, and play” by incorporating New Urbanism and Smart Growth Principles to address the unprecedented growth in the region in a sustainable manner.

The timing of the award is prescient as CEOs for Cities and Florida International University finalizes preparations for the Miami Brain Trust, a conversation about the future of a city with a long history of reinvention. That conversation will take place February 3 at the brand new Frank Gehry-designed New World Symphony campus.