Why the Future belongs to Walkable Cities

A Discussion with Jeff Speck

Date and Time
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
5:30 pm
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City and coauthor of the landmark bestseller Suburban Nation, is a city planner who advocates for smart growth and sustainable design. As the former director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts, he oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, where he worked with dozens of American mayors on their most pressing city planning challenges. He leads a design practice based in Washington, D.C.

Speck visited Santa Fe for a workshop and community lecture that looked at why walkable cities are economically successful and vibrant. Speck engaged the audience with trends, statistical evidence, and infrastructure examples of how to make our city more walkable and therefore dynamic to both residents and visitors. Some of these economic advantages Speck pointed out include:

  • Urban living is simply more appealing, especially to young creative
  • Demographic shifts are occurring; pro-urban segments of the population are becoming dominant
  • Walkable life generates considerable savings for these households
  • Much of these savings are spent locally

Speck addressed the possible impact of a walkable downtown Santa Fe that connects neighborhoods and destinations such as the Railyard. Stating that when “Two walkable districts have been unified into one, and an entire sector of the city has changed its character.” Downtown Santa Fe is a showcase for visitors, a center of vibrant activity for citizens to live, work and play, and an economically inviting locale for businesses to flourish.

From these discussions, Creative Santa Fe launched Walk [Santa Fe]- a prototype project that focused on better connecting the Railyard Plaza to the Downtown Plaza by way of temporary signage, walking maps, and a painted path.

“Companionable and disarmingly candid, Jeff Speck perches on your shoulder and gets you to see your community with fresh eyes…The case he makes has you both nodding at the intuitive and seemingly obvious wisdom presented, and shaking your head at why those basic principles of fixing our cities have eluded us for so long.”Harriet Tregoning, Founder of the National Smart Growth Network

Thank you to our collaborators: Santa Fe Armory for the Arts, and the Lannon Foundation