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Ecodistricts: Developing sustainable systems at scales that makes sense

Have you ever wondered how (and when) the energy, waste and water systems in our cities were built? Like the growth of cities, the systems that support our urban lives have evolved incrementally over time. Together they make up a patchwork of infrastructure that is sometimes arbitrary and can be quite inefficient. Applying the principles […]

Civic Ecology: A Citizen-Driven Framework for Suburban Communities

This paper was presented by Tim Smith at the 50th International Making Cities Livable Conference on June 26, 2013 at The Governor Hotel  in Portland, Oregon. Tim was also interviewed as part of this conference on Citizen Engagement via Civic Ecology. Reshaping suburbia suggests a shift toward mixed use, green buildings, complete streets, densification and […]

Civic Ecology: A Citizen-Driven Framework for Suburban Communities

Reshaping suburbia suggests a shift toward mixed use, green buildings, complete streets, densification and transit oriented development… in other words, greener, more efficient forms of suburban “hardware.” While these strategies may lead towards greater efficiency, transformative change will require deeper intervention beyond re-forming and efficiency. Suburban areas must be re-imagined as whole communities animated by […]

The Challenge of the Creative Class – A Follow Up

In 2011, we wrote about Portland’s Creative Class slump, noting that, despite being generally regarded as one of the country’s preeminent “creative class” cities, Portland has failed to translate its reputation for livability into real economic gains. Given the city’s persistent struggles with unemployment, underemployment, and low wages (despite attracting artists, designers, intellectuals, hipsters, and […]

Celebrate Lafayette: Young SERA Designers Win Competition

Occasionally, a group of emerging designers here at SERA will pool their talents and take on an independent design challenge. Such was the case when Krystan Menne, Kristin Slavin, and Jodi Hanson heard about the “[Imagine Downtown] Lafayette, LA” open-ideas competition a few months ago. Not only did this interdisciplinary team of designers dive into this […]

People Love What They Help Create

We have recently referenced some of the exciting augmented reality work we’ve been working on, but did you know that we’ve been using various technologies to engage the public during planning projects since the early 2000s? One of our goals at SERA has been to always communicate planning problems and potential solutions in ways that […]

Can Interactive Tech Lead to Better Design? Part 1

The traditional design process is being rethought with the introduction of new technologies. But what’s exciting to see is the way digital advances in other industries are influencing the way we think in the architectural world. Did you know that the wildly popular video game of the 1990s, Quake, has had a profound impact on […]

Design in a Dismal Climate

“Gray day. Everything is gray. I watch. But nothing moves today.” – Dr. Seuss It all started when I needed a place to eat my lunch. As a strong believer in the lunch break, I noticed that I had been skipping my noontime intermission. Our resilient foodcart owners are still peddling tom kha soup, but where […]

Is Love the Missing Ingredient in Sustainability?

Is love the missing ingredient in sustainability? We think so. In a world of metrics and check lists, are we overlooking that buildings, streetscapes, and interiors are made for people? People who want to thrive, who want to love the way they spend their days. We think that this love translates into care. Care translates […]