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."