Landscape is the New Urbanism

Recreational trials and landscape parks are driving new urban development

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When the northeast is experiencing 10 degree temperatures and seemly weekly nor’easter this first Design and the Bottom Line post of 2015 is meant to transport us towards spring. As millennials and retirees are rediscovering urban living the fastest growing and most valuable of these areas are near recreational trails and urban landscaped parks.   The trend toward active lifestyles and higher density living is driving the trend toward better landscape and urban design.  As these amenities are developed in neighborhoods and around live/work communities they experience increased demand and higher real estate values.

Two examples in my home town of Pittsburgh epitomize this trend. The Center for Sustainable Landscapes incorporates a green roof on top of their headquarters.  Due to the site’s steeply sloping topography this landscape tour de force connects on grade to the Phipps Conservatory. Entering the building at the roof garden then descending through the building to additional garden’s, fountains and to  the building and landscapes sustainable features including Geo-thermal wells, wind turbines, and water recycling features.

FullSizeRenderOn the banks of Pittsburgh’s rivers is 24 miles of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail that knits Pittsburgh’s different neighborhoods together. The mixed use developments along the South Side including the South Side Works is an example of how smartly planned developments enhance the built environment and that intern drives demand and growth. The trails link the South Side to the college campuses in Oakland, through Downtown to the stadium community on the North Side. These trials allow for alternative commuting and recreation enhancing more sustainable higher density urban living and development.

Bottom Line: As previous posts on this blog have noted  including those on the High Line and Schuylkill Banks these new connected urban landscapes enhance the quality of life of those who live/work nearby. And that in turn drives demand and price.  Smart planning and quality design improves the bottom line.

One thought

  1. And in MY hometowns of Greenville, SC the Swamp Rabbit Trail and in Atlanta the Beltline are both rail trails providing significant boosts to both recreation as well as local economic development and increased property values.


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