Build places people will love

Kaid Benfield, author of the new book, People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities, and one of the the “most influential people in sustainable planning and development” (Partnership for Sustainable Communities), came to Pittsburgh to tell us about  ways that we can make cities healthier.

Here are 4 of my favorites:

It’s not just about ‘cities’

Kaid stressed the importance of thinking bigger – and smaller – than cities.

Regions are the way we live. Neighborhoods are where we encounter our environment on a  daily basis. City borders are often rather arbitrarily drawn (for political reasons or otherwise), and being just outside – or inside – the border doesn’t necessarily mean that your environment is different.

Check out this map of Pittsburgh’s borders to see what he’s talking about!


We don’t walk

Kaid showed a bunch of statistics that backed up this claim. American’s aren’t walking nearly as much as citizens of other countries do. He showed pictures of multi-lane roads with no crosswalks, evidence of our car-centered world. How can we expect anyone to choose to walk if we don’t provide them with a safe opportunity to do so?

Designing our neighborhoods and regions with people in mind, not just cars, can start us on a path of walking. Check out the work that we’re doing on the Northside to connect neighborhoods with easy to access walking paths!

Respect for legacy

Kaid says that great places have a strong respect for the legacy of a place. This is, in his opinion, critical for the survival and success of a place.

Check out the Hill District Green Playce and read about how we are working to honor the legacy that it’s famous address carries.

There must be a there

My favorite thing that Kaid said:

“Aspire to build the kinds of places that people love. Spaces that people will care for and sustain over time.”

This rings especially true with us here at GTECH. Every time that we break ground, we are doing so to build a space with a community, a space that the neighborhood has designed and dreamed up, a place that they will love and care for when we aren’t there anymore.

Want more? Check out Kaid’s blog, or check his book out of your local library! Read another account of the talk from the Post Gazette!

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