by SARAH SNIDER
In many North American cities a growing number of parents choose to stay downtown after they have children rather than immediately flee to the suburbs. Thanks to the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and their Emerging Professionals Travel Scholarship, I was able to travel to a handful of these cities to learn the secrets to creating a family-friendly downtown. I dug into issues of neighborhood design, urban housing, recreation, and transportation. I also looked carefully at the incredibly important link between education and housing for parents, as Jon Scholes recently described.
Through a series of interviews and neighborhood visits, I noticed a series of trends that are happening nationwide. One such trend is that these new urban parents are organizing to change cities, hoping that they can stay in the downtown neighborhood they love while still supporting the needs of their growing family. They are using their collective power to fundraise to build playgrounds and make their voices heard at school board meetings and city council meetings. I also came away from my travels with a number of suggested policy and design solutions to help make cities, including Seattle, more family-friendly. Those research findings are compiled in a Family-Friendly Urbanism exhibit currently on display at AIA Seattle’s gallery space* through April 26th.
More importantly for the future of Seattle’s family-friendliness, AIA Seattle, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, the Seattle Planning Commission, and the Downtown Seattle Association are co-hosting a day-long forum about the topic. Ingredients for Designing a Family-Friendly Downtown will take place at City Hall on April 11th. International, national, and local speakers will be in attendance to discuss housing, education, recreation, transportation, and the market realities of retaining families with children in urban neighborhoods.
Will you join us on April 11th to further the conversation?
*1911 First Avenue, open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm.