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Moving Communities Forward: AIA Study on Design of Transportation Projects

AIA Communities by Design in collaboration with the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota has developed a study authorized by US Congress to explore the role of design in transportation. Well-designed transportation projects can shape a community in ways that go far beyond the project’s original purposes. Anecdotal evidence and advocacy efforts suggest that well-designed transportation projects positively impact communities. There is neither substantial organized quantifiable or qualitative data, nor is there a comprehensive guide for communities to maximize or integrate the diverse benefits of such projects.
The study’s two main goals are to measure the multiple enhancements well-designed transportation projects can bring to communities, and to provide principles and practices for communities, transportation professionals, designers, and policymakers to adapt to their needs. With funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the American Institute of Architects contracted with the Center For Transportation Studies to carry out the research for this study.

An interdisciplinary team analyzed nearly 30 transportation projects in communities of different sizes and in a variety of locations across the nation. They examined the benefits of well-designed transportation projects to communities in three overall categories:

    1. Promoting economic development

    2. Protecting public health, safety, and the environment

    3. Enhancing aesthetic, architectural, and cultural qualities and improving community planning

These case studies, which formed the basis for the study, covered a broad range of transportation projects, including:

    • Community transportation facilities and transit facilities

    • Structures and spaces that serve transportation purposes

    • Multimodal and intermodal projects, including highways and transit corridors

Report to Congress
Using the research reports available below, Andrew Goldberg prepared an overview summary report for Congress.

Research Reports
Research reports for this study include individual reports for each research project and a synthesis that includes the study's key findings and highlights major themes and recommendations of all the research projects.

Research Team
To address the interdisciplinary issues raised by this study, CTS assembled and led a research team drawn from multiple fields including geography, urban design, public policy, architecture, landscape architecture, and civil engineering. Robert Johns, CTS director, provided overall study leadership with assistance from Lance Neckar.

    John Adams
    Professor, Department of Geography

    John Carmody
    Director, Center for Sustainable Building Research

    Gary Davis
    Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering

    Ann Forsyth
    Former Director, Metropolitan Design Center
    Former Professor and Dayton Hudson Chair of Urban Design (now Professor, Department of City & Regional Planning, Cornell University)

    Lance Neckar
    Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture

    Carissa Schively Slotterback
    Assistant Professor, Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

    Virajita Singh
    Research Fellow, Center for Sustainable Building Research

    Barbara VanDrasek
    Research Associate, Department of Geography

    For additional information and updates, please visit


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