By USGBC Communications

How can architecture re-imagine how mixed-use developments can meet changing demands and preferences?

Mixed use is not a new idea. Retail, office, and residential have long co-existed side by side in cities and towns, but there is little doubt projects are becoming more unique and more comprehensively planned. Creating a community and a destination is the new emphasis, and transportation, whether in the form of parking for private vehicles, access to public transportation, or usually both, is a priority.

On the Boston waterfront, The Architectural Team Inc. combined new construction and adaptive reuse at Lovejoy Wharf. Now home to the corporate headquarters for clothing manufacturer Converse, the complex also offers retail space, a recording studio, and outdoor public amenities like a 30,000-sq.-ft. wharf space along the water’s edge. (Photo: Gustav Hoiland)

Jay Szymanski, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, associate at The Architectural Team, Inc. shares his thoughts on how mixed-use projects are expanding in cities as well as suburbs: he stresses the importance of access to a wide range of jobs, goods, services, and opportunities for social interactions as keys for “successful 24/7 live, work, play environments.”

He expands with lessons for all mixed-use developments:
“Ideally, a development should provide enough critical mass to support several uses that keep activity on a site at all times of the day and all days of the week. The inclusion of quality outdoor space that allows a variety of different passive and active options will help support retail, commercial, and residential uses. Inclusion of some food service uses will serve the residents, as well as the general public. The addition of some form of public art, whether it be a sculptural element or a water feature, certainly helps to serve as an attraction to bring in activity and local pride and an attachment to one’s community. Its importance cannot be overstated.”

The expectations of building owners, tenants, and visitors to mixed-use neighborhoods clearly have evolved. No doubt adjustments will continue to be required as needs and preferences mature, making those plans that are the most flexible the ones that will be the most successful.

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