Pursuing New Development Ideas

As funding falters in the private sector, some privately- or university-driven design centers are still pursuing new ideas is urban design and development. Places profiles one at the University of Arkansas.

Places' Nancy Levinson talks with Stephen Luoni, director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center about the sort of development his group is designing.

"NL: What would be a good example of creative development?

SL: For five years we've been designing proposals for light rail transit in Northwest Arkansas (NWA). It's an unfunded initiative - a response not to a client's proposition but instead to a real problem that wasn't being addressed. From 1990 to 2000, NWA was the nation's sixth fastest growing region; yet it lacked any strong planning traditions - other than highway development - that would have met the needs of this rapid development. And more growth is expected: the region is projected to double its population within the next 20 years, and to reach more than one million by 2040. So, in response to existing patterns - NWA is essentially a string of towns each founded along a rail corridor in the 1880s - we proposed a regional plan structured around resuscitation of this corridor with revitalization of the historic downtowns."

Full Story: Venture Design

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