Rethinking Runoff: How Stormwater Can be Harnessed for Better Design

The term “stormwater” does not evoke positive imagery for many people. It’s likely that the term conjures polluted water, pipes, and ponds rather than artful design features. However, the need for stormwater management has only become more important as the frequency and severity of storm events has grown. Over the past 20 years, this topic… More

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Creative Placemaking: Using the Arts as a Tool for Community Development

Public parks share dynamic relationships with the communities they serve. The way we design parks can either promote or hinder their diversity of use, exclude or empower neighborhoods, resemble anywhere or reflect the history and collective values of the place. To create parks that enable residents to feel more connected to place, community development project… More

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LEEDing by Example: How D.C. Became the First LEED Platinum City in the World

Contrary to recent actions taken by the Federal government, Washington D.C.’s local government has made unprecedented strides towards creating a cleaner, more sustainable future. The District of Columbia has recently emerged as an environmentally progressive leader and is actively working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support clean energy innovation, and focus on livability for all… More

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It’s Time to Take Action to Improve the Quality of Air We Breathe

Air Quality Take a deep breath. Consider that the air you’re breathing in may impact your health. We may not always see it, but air pollution is the cause of some of our most common illnesses. Tiny, invisible particles of pollution penetrate deep into our lungs, bloodstream, and bodies. These pollutants, known as particulate matter,… More

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Leveraging the Outdoors in Workplace Design

Today’s workplaces are a notable departure from those of the cubicle-filled past. With a better understanding of how design affects the mind, forward-thinking companies have rethought florescent lights, desk partitions, and separate departments, opting for natural light and flexible work zones to support creativity, focus, and teamwork. As companies strive to keep a competitive edge,… More

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A Walkable City is a Better City

Intrinsic to the success of cities and the quality of life they offer is how people move within them. For the past century, the car has been the central consideration in the design and planning of our urban areas. Increasingly, however, the car-dominated planning era is behind us, as city dwellers are more frequently walking,… More

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Skate park at "Mer-les-Bains"

Urban Design is Affecting Our Brains

Design affects the brain. We know this intuitively, as we get frustrated when poor wayfinding causes us to get us lost or we feel renewed after a run in the park, but only recently are we starting to understand how and why. Our immediate environment can prompt both negative and positive effects and it’s becoming… More

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Where Should We Plant Urban Trees?

Cities are generally both warmer and more polluted than non-urban areas, as paved surfaces absorb heat, leading to increased energy consumption, and vehicle and human activity produces waste and airborne particulate matter. These have huge negative consequences for human health, but a dense urban tree canopy can help reduce these risks. The role trees play… More

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Performance metrics for sustainable landscapes

Today’s landscapes are asked to perform much more than functional or aesthetic services: they filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve human health, and more. As projects become more complex, and clients aim higher to meet today’s climate challenges, the use of performance metrics is becoming increasingly prevalent.

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The Livable City Revolution

Around the globe, cities are rediscovering their industrial land. Once sustained by industry, in some places much of this urban infrastructure has closed down, with only the bones remaining. Today, cities are drawing all types – techies, bankers, artists, and immigrants alike – but space is limited. As urban land becomes more precious, communities reconsider… More

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