HOUSTON – By Cynthia Lescalleet – (Realty News Report) — People are a powerful design tool in today’s built environment, affecting future projects from hospitality to health care, offices to airports, retail to residential to recreational spaces.
So as cities reimage their future forms and functions, they might want to factor in the “human experience.” Gensler’s Design Forecast 2022– Resilient Design Strategies for the Human Experience has done that. Its findings spotlight accelerating trends and strategic solutions that incorporate “the human experience” to bring about more vibrant and resilient spaces.
The adage and attitude “build it and they will come,” is shifting, observed architect Dean Strombom, principal and strategy leader at Gensler Houston.
“In general, the finding in our practice areas is the idea of energizing space and creating experiences where people want to be,” he said.
For cities, that also means having a broader definition of community than what’s inside an office tower, he said. Remote work and hybrid office use fueled by the pandemic have accelerated the challenge to engage and retain a workforce.
To prepare its recently released report, Gensler’s Research Institute took the pulse of projects and design practices around the globe.
Looking at cities and urban design, for example, the design forecast calls for urban cores that are “convenient, inclusive, resilient, and healthy.”
Shaping Cities and the Human Experience
Among the global architecture firm’s strategies for shaping cities and urban design:
- Reduce sprawl.
- Expand pedestrian-oriented spaces. Connect the public realm of plazas and parks to privately owned public spaces (POPS).
- Embrace mobility innovation, such as e-scooters, e-bikes and electric vehicles. The broader implication ultimately enables repurposing parking facilities for health and wellness uses.
- Balance the demand of the “engineered” urban environment with the capacity of natural systems.
- Act “regeneratively” to combat climate change, pollution and natural resource depletion with such strategies as green infrastructure, conservation, increased biodiversity and repurposing waste.
- Build arts and culture, look for ways to create more equity and diversity and celebrate local “DNA” in terms of what makes a particular city that city.
- Enable the “20-minute neighborhood.” The planning concept is a tool for a socially cohesive, well-rounded neighborhood with equitable transportation, housing, employment and technology infrastructure.
- Have a “mixed-use mind-set.” That means creating environments having three or more functions, be it work, live, play, stay, shop and so forth. It also means diversity at many levels, addressing a mix of incomes and generations.
Houston has several examples of mixed-use projects that are deploying several of the design strategies, but they tend to be in pockets rather than connected, larger districts, Strombom observed. Among them are Brookfield Properties’ Houston Center and Allen Center. Both have been updated into more animated environments, with outdoor elements as well as interior transformations. The POST Houston, the redevelopment of downtown’s Barbara Jordan Post Office, is in the early stages of blending uses and highlights adaptive re-use on a grand scale.
Feb. 4, 2022 Realty News Report Copyright 2022.
Photo credit: Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report. Copyright 2022
File: Gensler’s Design Forecast 2022