News from the Top: People-first Downtowns

March 23, 2019

Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership serves as Chair of the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Board of Directors. Tami offers her expertise in city building to members of IDA in her monthly News from the Top column.

For the film Black Panther, production designer Hannah Beachler designed a city to be envied by urbanists and city planners. Beachler’s extensive research focused on people, and her design focused on ambitious social responsibility.

Though fictional, the city of Wakanda offers us a very real reminder: we must design our cities for people, not users. When we’re looking at how we move people to and through our cities, this reminder is especially important.

This month’s issue of National Geographic focuses on cities, and one article says that if we want to build cities of the future, we must stop building for cars. Similar to Beachler’s school of thought, Jan Gehl is quoted saying that we must design for people, not cars, and that we must pay attention to “life between buildings.”

As we design and refine our public realm and our transportation networks, how can we ensure that we are building for people and creating experiences that people connect with. Creating these experiences doesn’t always mean complete overhauls of a transit system or reconstructing streets. It can mean adding little tweaks and offering our people small gestures.

Whether it’s adding parklets, increasing or enhancing bike infrastructure, or adding dedicated transit lanes, every step towards building our cities and our transit systems for people is a step in the right direction.