The Walkable City

Harvard GSD Executive Education
Thursday June 15, 2023
Location: Cambridge, MA

What makes a place walkable? What do design professionals, engineers, developers, and public officials need to know if they are to make, streets, landscapes, and communities more attractive to pedestrians?

Join Jeff Speck, author of the best-selling Walkable City, for a comprehensive two-day course on the most effective arguments, techniques, and tools for reshaping places in support of walking, biking, and transit, including a design charrette with the City Manager of Watertown, MA, George Proakis.

We will start by asking why walkability is desirable: most communities support the concept of walkability as a matter of course, but this commitment can waver in the face of countervailing pressures from entrenched interests. You will learn the most powerful economic, epidemiological, and environmental arguments for making a sustained investment in walking, biking, and transit.

The central segment of the course will focus in great depth on the following ten strategies for making better places: Put Cars in Their Place; Mix the Uses; Get Parking Right; Let Transit Work; Protect the Pedestrian; Welcome Bikes; Shape the Spaces; Plant Trees; Make Friendly and Unique Faces; and Pick Your Winners.

Jeff Speck has completed fifteen Walkability Studies over the past twenty years, and will show you how to complete such plans in your communities.

Finally, you will get some hands-on experience. After an always-popular lecture on the role of the municipal planner, George Proakis—former Somerville chief planner and newly-appointed Watertown City Manager—will lead a tour of recent planning successes in Somerville before bringing the class to Watertown Square, the heart of his community. Badly in need of a redesign, the Square will become the focus of an afternoon mini-charrette during which student teams will be asked to design possible solutions by applying the walkability principles they have learned.

Posted April 5, 2023

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