Monday, June 30, 2008

Best Cities for Design

An independent survey by RMJM Hillier, a large architectural firm based in New York, ranks cities in terms of how well they are designed for "architecture, sustainability and transit." They ranked urban areas as most affordable, most healthy or "greenest," and named 10 cities that experts considered the best in America for architecture and design and three that almost made the top tier and were considered "cities to watch."

The top 10 were:
1. Chicago
2. New York
3. Boston
4. Los Angeles
5. Portland, Ore.
6. San Francisco
7. Seattle
8. Denver
9. Philadelphia
10. Washington


Among the "cities to watch," are Baltimore, Minneapolis and Phoenix, Ariz.

"Good design makes better communities by boosting the economy, creating jobs and, particularly today, sponsoring environmental strategies," said Peter Schubert, design director of RMJM Hillier. "We conducted this study to see which cities are the most forward-thinking in their planning and development strategies and to applaud those that are doing it right."

In Chicago, architecture and design are such significant parts of the business and cultural communities that "walking down the street, you hear people talking about buildings just as often as you hear them talking about the Cubs or Sox," said Zurich Esposito, executive vice president of the American Institute of Architecture's Chicago chapter. "Studies like this compel us to learn more about what people are doing in other cities - across the country or around the globe. It's all part of learning from each other and creating an international design dialogue."

The firm used 10 criteria, including architecture awards, "green" design and public transit systems, to select the 10 cities that it deemed to be leading the way in design policy and practice. Other factors included the presence of museums and universities with design programs, employees in "creative industries," housing and community design awards and buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

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