Sign In, Renew, Sign Up

Search AIA

Search AIA Go

Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture

Page Tools

Reed Insight and Community


NPR’s Cities Project and the AIA

How do we want to live? What do we want our cities to be? Beginning May 6, the AIA will again sponsor NPR’s Cities Project, which explores these questions as well as trends in urban life and the challenges faced by today’s cities.

As architects, AIA members also address these central questions in their work, fusing passion with practice to build better homes and create safer, healthier, and more sustainable communities.

View the slideshow below to find stories about how good design is improving quality of life in cities across the U.S. You’ll also find resources to help you take an active role in creating a healthier community.

You can also explore additional resources about working with an architect and the How Design Works microsite, which offers tools to help you throughout the design process.

Viewing the Slideshow
Click on the thumbnail images to view individual slides and read related content.


Urban Reinvestments

<strong>URBAN DESIGN.</strong> Cincinnati&rsquo;s over-the-Rhine neighborhood has struggled along with neighborhoods in other Rust Belt cities, but Miami University&rsquo;s DesignBuild Studio students are creating a path forward.<br><br> <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

Designing with Context

<strong>PRESERVATION.</strong> Historic areas, such as Postcard Row in San Francisco, give residents two rare and economically valuable assurances: Continuity of neighborhood fabric and stability of investment.<br><br> <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

Trial and Error

<strong>RESEARCH.</strong> Architect-driven research on materials, technology, ecology, and delivery systems is changing the way design can knit together urban elements.<br><br> <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

Past Forward

<strong>HISTORIC PRESERVATION.</strong> In Chicago, two kinds of efficiency&mdash;saving money and natural resources&mdash;are fueling an increased appreciation for preservation and renovation projects in commercial and residential buildings. &ldquo;If we&rsquo;re going to have any kind of rebirth in building here,&rdquo; says Charles Stetson, AIA, &ldquo;adaptive reuse of our existing building stock is going to lead the way.&rdquo;<br><br> <strong><a href='' target='_blank'> Read the article</a></strong>

Design Connects

<strong>DESIGN CONNECTS. </strong>Creating safe, healthy, sustainable buildings and communities that enhance the quality of life for all&mdash;this is what architects do every day. The AIA&rsquo;s Institute Honors Program celebrates this work, and the people and organizations that reflect the highest aspirations of the architecture profession and the society we serve. Explore award-winning projects in <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>urban design</a></strong>, <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>interior architecture</a></strong>, and <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>public architecture</a></strong>. <br><br> <strong><a href=' target='_blank'>View all 2012 award-winning projects</a></strong>

Building Birmingham

<strong>CREATING LIVABLE COMMUNITIES.</strong> The Pratt City neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama was destroyed by a massive tornado in 2011. City officials requested assistance from the AIA&rsquo;s Regional and Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) to help plan a recovery strategy. This short film shares the powerful story of Pratt City and how assistance from the AIA&rsquo;s Regional and Urban Design Assistance Team helped restore the community. <br><br><a href=' ' target='_blank'><strong>Watch the video</strong></a>

Postgreen in Philly

<strong>LEED PLATINUM HOMES.</strong> For now, at least, the previous decade&rsquo;s addiction to cheap land and poorly built, overpriced homes is giving way to a craving for modest but innovative dwellings. Enter Interface Studio Architects and the developer Postgreen Homes, both in Philadelphia. Their 100K House, which hit the market in 2009, answers that call, while suggesting a way to design ourselves out of the housing trough.<br><br><strong><a href=' ' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

New Amsterdams

<strong>SAFETY.</strong> The global trend toward urbanization has made disaster preparation even more important, especially in major cities that have generally developed near water.  As water levels and the risk profiles of major coastal cities rise, new experts are meeting the challenge. <br><br> <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

The Fixers

<strong>URBAN DESIGN.</strong> Tampa-based design collective Urban Charrette are eager to start their next projects&mdash;&ldquo;demonstration projects,&rdquo; as they put it&mdash;designed to draw attention. These next projects could focus on a fully functioning streetcar loop connecting downtown neighborhoods south to north, east to west. Or streets defined by bicyclists and pedestrians. Or preventing childhood obesity.<br><br> <strong><a href='' target='_blank'> Read the article</a></strong>

Match Point

<strong>URBAN DESIGN.</strong> The simple but powerful premise behind collocated systems is that structures can pull double duty. PV panels that double as noise buffers or highway bridges that carry utility pipes are good examples of how an architect&rsquo;s design can also improve the functional benefit of a system, and why we must take time to understand how architecture, not just its building systems, can improve a building&rsquo;s long-term performance and human health.<br><br><strong><a href='' target='_blank'> Read the article</a></strong>

Cultural Production

<strong>HISTORIC PRESERVATION.</strong> Historic preservation might be the key to Cuban-American relations. Over the last decade, Lee Cott, FAIA, has consulted as a technical adviser on the restoration of Ernest Hemingway&rsquo;s Cuban home and workspace, Finca Vigia, orginally designed by Catalan architect Miguel Pascual y Baguer in 1886. Although the building is listed as an endangered property, Cott and his team have been instrumental to making sure that it stands at least a fighting chance. <br><br><strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

Joplin&rsquo;s Return

<strong>LOCAL MARKETS.</strong> Within 30 minutes after Joplin High School graduates walked across the stage to receive diplomas on May 22, 2011, a Category 5 tornado descended from the sky, ravaging Joplin&rsquo;s infrastructure. Over the next few days, a special AIA task force of architects trained in disaster recovery took the lead on building assessments. They didn?t stop there. <br><br> <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

Losing Lost Highways

<strong>URBAN DESIGN.</strong> American infrastructure&rsquo;s advanced state of deterioration converges with issues such as the high cost of driving, trends toward the resettling of urban areas, and economic development. But, architects are assuming a variety of roles in plans to remove obsolete infrastructure and step into the community dialogue and articulate what makes cities unique.  <br><br><strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

Green Lantern

<strong>AFFORDABLE HOUSING.</strong> David Smith sees &ldquo;green capital&rdquo; as the foundation for affordable housing&rsquo;s future. &ldquo;You need to convert good ecology into good economy,&rdqou; says Smith, who is the chairman and founder of Recap Real Estate Advisors, and one of the foremost affordable multifamily-housing specialists in the U.S. He also is the founder of the Affordable Housing Institute, a global nonprofit that provides financial guidance to low-income housing NGOs. <br><br><strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

Figure Ground

<strong>URBAN DEVELOPMENT.</strong> In his landmark 1984 survey, Paul Venable Turner characterized the American campus as &ldquo;a peculiar state of equilibrium between change and continuity,&rdquo; a paradox that still challenges campus planners. Now campus planners are again aiming for visionary plans that consider the real complexity of college and university functions. <br><br> <strong><a href='' target='_blank'> Read the article</a></strong>

The New Normal

<strong>URBAN DEVELOPMENT.</strong> Can urban, multifamily rentals drive the economy forward?  The second article in a three-part series on residential architecture and today&rsquo;s economic climate explores this question, as well as how demographics and demand are propelling the design and construction of new rental housing. &ldquo;Home ownership is no longer the investment people thought it would be,&rdquo; says Don Meeks, AIA.<br><br>  <strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>

Livability 101

<strong>LIVABLE COMMUNITIES.</strong> What makes a community livable? Livability 101 (PDF) is a resource that offers citizens and communities the tools they need to answer this question and work successfully with architects to shape their environment and create a healthy, safe, sustainable community. This document covers eight fundamental planning and design principles as well as the role of the architect. <br><br><strong><a href=' ' target='_blank'>Download the PDF</a></strong>

Uptight (Everything is Alright)

<strong>URBAN DEVELOPMENT.</strong> There&rsquo;s an underlying and less-explored narrative in the Motor City in which architects are playing an important and increasingly visible role. Many of Detroit&rsquo;s most vexing problems&mdash;outsized infrastructure, urban sprawl, and vacant land&mdash;are ripe for a design intervention. Detroit AIA&rsquo;s Urban Priorities Committee hopes to revitalize the city despite Motown&rsquo;s terminal prognosis.  <br><br><strong><a href='' target='_blank'>Read the article</a></strong>


Footer Navigation

Copyright & Privacy

  • © The American Institute of Architects
  • Privacy