On March 16th, TightLines staff attended the 9th Annual Urban Design Forum hosted by the NC State University College of Design.  The Forum included the Natural Learning Initiative’s Growing IN Place symposium, which featured leading industry experts presenting on a variety of topics including the promotion of livable communities through urban pathway design, parks and open space, and urban ‘wildlands.’

With the majority of people living in urban areas, there is a growing need to design communities for the healthy development of children and families. With a reduction in available natural areas used for recreational purposes and a growing obesity epidemic, greenways and trails have become crucial urban design considerations.  Additionally, a growing awareness of the importance in preserving natural features like stream corridors and wild zones is taking place. Such features allow children in urban environments to explore freely outside the confines of manicured lawns and shade trees, and also serve as meaningful destinations for families.

A new intergenerational paradigm is also unfolding: one that integrates urban landscape planning and design to create traffic-protected pedestrian and bicycle routes that connect important destinations like cultural attractions and social services with playgrounds and schools. Architects play a key role in the promotion of sustainable urban planning by designing homes that have access to sunlight and natural cross ventilation, as well as the flexibility to facilitate child-friendly and outdoor spaces. They can also play a role in conservation land planning, which utilizes naturalization strategies to allow for a seamless transition between our natural and built environments.

In the News:

On Thursday, March 29th, the House of Representatives passed a stopgap three-month bill titled MAP-21 to keep federal highway transit aid flowing and avoid a widespread shutdown of construction projects. Many assert the bill will take the country’s transportation policy in a more accountable, environmentally friendly, and efficient direction.