Fall 2023 | Article 03/04

Building stronger, people-centric communities

Shifts in how we live, work, learn and play have many craving quality places, access to key amenities and diverse infrastructure much closer to home.
It’s no longer about what our cities have historically provided, but about ensuring that our cities contribute quality experiential spaces and places that enrich the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Moving beyond what our cities provide to what they could become presents an exciting opportunity to deepen our relationships with our communities.

Increasingly, urban ecosystems are focused and developed with a combination of both built form and programmed activity to create overall vibrancy. 

While city leaders and developers focus on building buildings, town squares and recreational amenities, the overall ecosystem’s approach toward parades, festivals, arts and culture, and food experiences leaves room for creation of truly exceptional places.

And when it’s done well? The economics – people, communities, businesses, and the entire community benefit from the approach.

From the ground up: foundations of a quality place

To make places truly exceptional, we first must understand what makes them inviting and people friendly. Integrating placemaking is the process of creating quality places that people want to live, work, learn and play in. The first step? Make sure they meet the standard of a basic quality space.

This largely means ensuring basic human needs are met and the place feels:

  • Safe
  • Welcoming and inclusive
  • Conducive to authentic experiences
  • Accessible and easy for people to travel around
  • Clean with character and charm that makes people feel comfortable
  • Like a physical fabric and footprint, along with technology, that encourages connection between people, businesses and community organizations

Layering on placemaking beyond basic needs enables the spaces to be reimagined to create places through valuable and attractive infrastructure that:

  • Improves the quality of places which attracts people
  • Creates a community attachment to the property
  • Increases competitive advantage of the property in relation to competitors
  • Strengthens community engagement with the property and tenants
  • Increases visitor spending

"The goal of effective placemaking is to create our healthiest and most vibrant communities yet."

- Sheila Botting, Principal and President of Americas Professional Services

“The goal of effective placemaking is to create our healthiest and most vibrant communities yet,” shares Sheila Botting, Principal and President of Americas Professional Services at Avison Young. “It’s bringing our most needed amenities closer together, with inclusive planning and mixed-use functionalities that provide the great social and economic outcomes that tend to come naturally alongside truly great development work where the priority is people feeling safe, included, and connected.”

Characteristics of amenity-rich communities

Once initial ground-level work is set, truly outstanding places shape from simply alluring and fulfilling on basic levels to those with that add an extra bit of pizazz, and an unmistakeable “wow” factor.

These are cities and communities that:

Are visually interesting and notably attractive

Make effective use of public spaces

Promote arts, culture and use of green

Have multiple public transportation options

Preserve historic districts, and promote and respect unique community heritages

Blend a mix of uses and development initiatives across the community

Have places for recreation and vibrant energy, as well as places for calm and quiet

Are technological savvy, with access to basic broadband connectivity anywhere you go

Communities that drive connection build inherent social and economic value

When you develop spaces that prioritize people and the critical needs of the community, you create magical places that people resonate with as an extension of who they are.

There’s life there. There’s connection. There’s community. There’s home.

It’s a place where people want to be and come together. Where they want to contribute and continue to build on the best of a place, furthering its growth and development.

When you create that kind of comfort, access, and engagement, one trait rises to the top: it’s a springboard for even greater possibilities, better futures to come.

Article contributors

  • Principal & President Americas, Professional Services
  • Consulting & Advisory

Portraits of progress

To read more about the work we do in our communities globally, please read our new 2022 Global Impact Report where you will read about our people behind some big initiatives globally. Everything we do has the potential to create value for people in their communities, and we’re just getting started.

read the report

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