©EDSA | Insights | Looking over Green in an Urban Lanscape


©EDSA | Insights | Bridge

An increased value on togetherness, time spent outdoors and work-life balance are heavily contributing to today’s ideals of health and happiness. And, as we continue to reprioritize what’s important, how we live – and more importantly where we reside, designers are responding with a renewed neighborhood orientation and more defined focus on social, environmental and economic stewardship.

Global citizens are seeking a feeling of belonging to a place, not only through physical amenities but with opportunities for self-improvement and an enhanced collective identity. That said, it’s no surprise that the residential market continues to be a popular investment for first time, primary, luxury, active-adult and secondary home buyers. According to Zillow, the total value of private real estate ownership in the United States increased by $6.9 trillion in 2021 and 91 percent of suburban counties benefitted from relocations last year alone. This residential boom came in swiftly with heavy momentum and we have remained nimble in response to market moves and what they mean for real estate development.

©EDSA | Insights | Crescent Hills

Much of what makes a community great is here to stay. Walkable streets along with village-style layouts like those found in downtown West Chester, Pennsylvania invite opportunities for exploration, activity and conversation. Moving down the coast, destinations like Wilton Manors in Florida – that fully embrace their roots within the LGBTQIA+ community, continue to socially thrive while being home to dozens of parks and natural trails that promote activity. Today’s homebuyers demand this sense of place, so we’re creating developments where people can be visible. A variety of scales of space from the front porch to the plaza promote community as well. By focusing on the formation of critical mass elements such as town centers, entertainment areas and public parks, design solutions can reinforce a community’s rhythm and character while allowing people of all ages to share experiences and engage with nature.

However, some community aspects must be reimagined to fit our growing population and aging infrastructure. Places like Frisco, Texas, for example, have nearly 80 percent more residents today than that of 2010. Projected to grow well into the future, city officials, developers and designers alike must consider how to enhance public spaces and community amenities to accommodate future needs. Should streets be put on ‘road diets’ to make room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes? In what ways must pocket parks and open green spaces be reprogrammed – or deprogrammed, to better serve residents? How can we best use scale, proportion, patterns and landmarks to create a sense of orientation and community-centric intimacy?

©EDSA | Insights | Boy on Bike

In addition, the incorporation of technology and climate-positive designs must take precedent in reshaping neighborhoods. Outlets and charging stations, for instance, provide residents with a higher level of connection while accommodating the ‘work-from-anywhere’ lifestyle. Trails and walkways that are intricately lit through solar power, permeable paving patterns and rain filtration systems ensure spaces can be enjoyed year-round while contributing to forward-thinking, biodiverse public areas. Prioritizing pedestrians, adopting conservation strategies and a taking a wide lens view of connectivity and sustainability, neighborhoods can contribute to long-term social and ecological prosperity.

As we look beyond the trend, the goal of any community plan is to make a place the best it can be for residents. The ‘users’ of our spaces – everyday people – are looking for amenities, offerings and comforts that make their lives easier, healthier and more satisfying. While we continue to design for the needs of now, we must collectively address the wants of tomorrow’s residents with powerful, smart statements of place – for a more robust and transformative feeling of well-being.