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The A, B, Cs of Place

This week, the folks at the National University of Singapore have invited me to talk about the importance of evidence-based design. The talk will explain how State of Place objectively measures walkability, compare and contrast State of Place to other measurement tools (the topic of next week's blog, actually, so stay tuned!), and demonstrate how State of Place helps placemakers use data to help "sell" their vision for better places. While I'm super excited to show how State of Place can further improve Singapore's livability - in a way that maximizes the bang for their buck - I'm bummed I cannot take all of you with me. BUT, don't fret. Incidentally, nearly two years ago to date, I gave a similar talk at the University of Oklahoma's Placemaking Conference. So here's a link to the talk (note that this was before we developed the State of Place software - yay for meeting goals!) and below is an outline of what I covered, with select quotes meant to entice you to spend your lunch time actually watching the talk! But don't take our word for it, this is a quote from a colleague who focuses on impact investing: 

"Finally viewed one of Mariela's presentations on State of Place (better late than never :/) and it's even better than I could have imagined! Highly recommend it for fellow geeks interested in urban planning, healthy cities, the emotional component of travel, sharing space and experiences with other humans, etc. It's inspiring.


Confessions of a Place-Oholic: How Place-less Miami Shaped my Passion for Place

" most exhilarating memory is playing an ersatz game of frogger, as i tightroped down pencil thin sidewalks, dodging cars as I crossed strip-mall laden highways, masquerading as streets, all to get to a chicken teriyaki sub"

Fixing Places as a Vehicle to Fixing People

" Even then I was convinced better places did better, all around. I just needed to find a way to prove that to people."

Measuring the Built Environment - the Early Days

"I realized this was the early days of measuring urban design but I knew we were not capturing so much that mattered - to our perceptions, safety, behavior...I also began to realize that the whole of urban design was bigger than the sum of its parts. I became obsessed with understanding what influenced people's decisions to walk."

Documenting the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Place

"We had measured urban design! BUT we had built a tool for measurements sake."

How Houston gave birth to state of place

"Even if we had begun to define the nuts and bolts of great places, it couldn’t just be about health. It couldn’t just be about sense of place. I STILL had to show them the money if I wanted them to consider place in the equation."

Becoming "Bilingual" Translating Place into Real Estate Finance 

As I was slowly absorbing the concepts of mezzanine finance and cap rates, I had one pivotal conversation with one of my...real estate friends...about how they chose which deals to invest in. He rattled off a whole bunch of jargon but none of them had to do with place. Far from it. They didn’t even know what most of these buildings actually looked like!

Eureka! Quantifying the Value of Place

As the State of Place Index increased, so did a variety of other real estate values...We divided the Index into five levels of walkability...and for each level increase, we saw premiums of nearly $9/sqft in office rents, $7/sqft in retail rents, an 80% increase in retail sales, a $300/unit increase in residential rents, and more than $81/sqft in for sale residential value.

The Nuts & Bolts of Great Places

"...Urban Form [is] measuring streetscape continuity...we take into account building setbacks, how the building meets the street, the siting of buildings, and the number and width of buildings. This is what I like to call the hugability of a street. If the form is off, a street can feel aloof or it can feel suffocating. You know you’ve achieved the right proportions of setbacks, street width, and building height when it feels like the street is hugging you."

Telling Data-Driven Stories about the Power of Place

"Data-driven storytelling about the power of place is worth infinitely more than the 0s, 1s, and 2s behind it…"