On Monday, September 26th, Eric Osth, AIA, LEED AP, Vice Chairman and Managing Principal of Urban Design Associates presented “Placemaking in Practice” to the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. The following article includes further detail and support from the presentation.
Urban Design Associates (UDA) is pleased to celebrate ten years of collaboration with Kennecott Land Company (a subsidiary of Rio Tinto) in the design of Daybreak, an entirely new mixed-use, transit-oriented (TOD) community. From the very beginning, the goal was to set a new standard for sustainable, high-quality development in the Salt Lake Valley. Even as the project remains a 'work in progress', Daybreak has been internationally-recognized as a success.
The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary for UDA. When David Lewis and Ray Gindroz started a practice focused on urban design in Pittsburgh in 1964, there was a big gap in the profession between designing buildings and designing cities. Architecture, land planning and zoning were often separated from both the social and physical context of city building and had little connection to place-making.
Urban Design Associates (UDA) hosted a discussion of Innovation Districts at this year's annual APA Convention, held in Seattle. Innovation Districts are geographic areas in cities where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect. They are compact districts served by transit and they offer mixed-use housing, office, and retail.
Cities in North Africa, the Saudi Arabian peninsula, and the Levant face unique challenges from the tremendous heat and dusty winds of the surrounding desert and high humidity along coastal areas. These environmental forces along with social and cultural norms have resulted in unique cities created over the past several centuries. Built in the pre-industrial era, these old cities offer many lessons for designing dense urban districts that are environmentally responsive and sustainable. There are many fine examples of modern cities influenced by international planning techniques but adapted to the unique environmental challenges of the MENA region.
Last century's general attempt to tidy up cities unintentionally removed many of the ways that we celebrate outdoor places, the fruits of our collective labor and the joy of living in neighborhoods. Thankfully, that is all starting to change. A rediscovered demand for sharing a meal together in both known and undervalued spaces has people clamoring to pop-up dining tables in cities around the world. It is proof positive of a shift from conventional thinking about urbanism to a more experience-based model as a core driver in building vibrant places and creating added value for cities. Farm-to-table has reached a new level.
Memorable neighborhoods, towns, and cities are composed of specific types of places that share a unique ability to spark and continuously energize their communities. We have come to call this type of place Everyday Squares. As part of Urban Design Associates’ annual summer program, our Urban Researchers have immersed themselves in Pittsburgh to document, measure, and interview the curators of the Everyday Squares that are leading and sustaining the regeneration and vibrancy of the City’s many great neighborhoods.
One of the great things about living in Pittsburgh is the Strip District – the city’s version of a working market district. In our city, many people still shop for their pastas, olive oil, meats, fish, breads and pastries from local merchants, butchers and bakers. The traditions of Eastern Europe, Italy, Asia, and South America are alive and well there, albeit in a uniquely Pittsburgh way. It’s hard to find perogies, haluski, asiago and piave, locally made wines, homemade biscotti, fresh Italian pizzas, cannoli, South American treats like the Peruvian Pollo a la Brasa, old fashioned candy, Asian bbq chicken from a hot grill, and Italian espresso, side-by-side along the street in other U.S. cities.