Strengthening design and livability

AIA 150 and the Vancouver USA Streetcar Feasibility Study

Don Luthardt
LSW Architects PC

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), an organization that represents the professional interests of America’s architects, will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2007. In light of this landmark anniversary, AIA Vancouver will be conducting the "Vancouver USA Streetcar Feasibility Study" as a gift to the community. This study is part of a new nationwide community service program by the AIA titled, "Blueprint for America: A Gift to the Nation." Incidentally, 2007 also marks the 150th anniversary of Vancouver as an incorporated city, and since streetcars are a part of Vancouver’s history, this study is a starting point to link the city’s heritage with its future.

The AIA Vancouver initiative will use a visioning process to engage the citizens of Vancouver in shaping their vision of the community. This process will bring community members on board in the early stages to help craft this unique streetcar program. The streetcar system will be strategically located to unify currently planned amenities, improve Vancouver’s livability and provide an alternative transportation option while encouraging community partnerships. In addition, the study’s information will tie into the city and regional evaluation of transportation and transit systems to serve the core of Vancouver.

As one element in designing for a more environmentally friendly tomorrow, the streetcar will reduce traffic, increase interest in public transportation, garner more enthusiasm for Vancouver’s downtown area and provide a unique alternative mode of transportation.

Sustainability and the AIA

The streetcar study is only one example of how the AIA seeks to increase sustainability. Since the beginning, AIA members have been seeking ways to strengthen the design and livability of America’s buildings and communities. The shift in design over the past decade has been to focus on developing more sustainable livable communities. In order to better clarify and define sustainable livable communities, the AIA has developed the "10 Principles for Livable Communities," which include designing pedestrian friendly, mixed-use communities that preserve urban centers and provide varied transportation options. These communities should be home to vibrant public spaces and have a "sense of place," while conserving landscapes and protecting natural resources. Finally, according to the AIA’s principles, design excellence is the foundation of successful and healthy communities.

In the grand scheme of working to enhance the sustainability and livability of our community, the Vancouver USA Streetcar Feasibility Study will be just one of many options to explore and turn into a reality for ours and future generations.

Don Luthardt is a licensed architect, the AIA Vancouver 2006 president-elect, and a LEED™ Accredited Professional. He is an associate at LSW Architects PC and has a passion for sustainable design.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.