ULI Awards of Excellence to honor places that drive revenue and development
In the late 1780’s, while serving as minister to France, Thomas Jefferson wrote about how enchanted he was with the architecture in Paris. According to one letter, he was “violently smitten” and visited a particular building along the Seine River almost every day. So moved was he that 10 years later, when he sought to enlarge and update Monticello, his U.S. residence in Charlottesville, Va., he embarked on renovations inspired by the very buildings he had studied while abroad.
Surely each of us has had a similar visceral reaction to a special place. The man-made environment is sometimes confounding: the better it is, the better we feel – but often we have no idea why. Yet the link between the quality of the built environment and the quality of our lives is well documented. Knowing this relationship, those of us who influence various elements of the physical world have an obligation to improve the way people experience it; placemaking isn’t just the purview of governments and non-profits.
While some believe that placemaking and profit-seeking are mutually exclusive, many examples suggest otherwise. Witness the recent sale of Avalon to an affiliate of Prudential, or the multitude of profitable projects that are embracing the evolving urban form adjacent to the BeltLine. Further, consider the skeptics who dismiss placemaking as the drivel of the cape-and-beret crowd, yet find themselves desperately attempting to attract customers by installing coffee shops, upgrading common seating areas and enhancing external features of their assets. After all, isn’t placemaking simply a rational response to the fact that we have primordial reactions to our surroundings? If you want people to live, work and shop in a way that drives revenue, you’ll create an environment that makes them feel good.
So the question is not, “Does placemaking matter?” but rather “To what degree am I participating?” Are you on the scale of introducing lattes and murals, or are you reimagining the programming and activation of an entire city block? Both are valid and mutually reinforcing aspects of the same goal – and both are challenging.
As real estate practitioners focused on managing financial, legal and other risks within an ever-changing regulatory environment, many of us lose sight of the wide-ranging impact our contributions will make. However, for those who consider that real estate represents more than a transaction, duty requires us to design, build and support great places that are inviting and memorable.
Recognizing that duty, over 400 professionals from all real estate disciplines will gather on September 15 at the 22nd annual ULI Atlanta Development of Excellence Awards. The Urban Land Institute is one of the world’s most respected sources of information on urban planning, growth, and development. It is instrumental in setting standards of excellence in development practice, and our annual Awards Dinner celebrates the people and projects that best exemplify this excellence.
This year we are pleased to recognize Dennis Creech of Southface and Egbert Perry of Integral for their contributions to responsible land use in the metro Atlanta region. In addition, we are excited to highlight the following Project Awards Finalists:
- Abernathy Greenway Linear Park
- Dad’s Garage Theater Company
- Ponce City Market
- Porsche Experience Center
- Square on Fifth
- The Office
- WaterHub at Emory
The ULI Awards Dinner is a special event where we acknowledge and thank those who have improved the built environment. May all of us aspire to help people become “violently smitten” with the world around them, just as Thomas Jefferson was during his time in Paris.
David Zanaty is Chair of the 22nd Annual ULI Awards of Excellence Dinner. For more information, please visit www.uliatlantaawards.com