Jun 3, 2024 | Featured, News

Two weeks ago, Ashley and Aaron ventured to Cincinnati, OH as speakers and attendees of the Congress for the New Urbanism’s annual conference — CNU32.  CNU’s mission is to “champion walkable urbanism” by providing resources and education to create “socially just, environmentally resilient, and people centered places.” CNU’s goal is to build places that people love – and we love that!

On Cincinnati

Cincinnati is, by all accounts, a well-deserved host city that embodied this year’s theme:  Restorative Urbanism. With an integrated park system and very intact historic building stock, the city is alive with activity and character. Well-shaded and utilizing natural landscaping, the parks and plazas are intertwined with neighborhoods, inviting both those who seek to linger and those who seek to play. 

The riverfront area, home to two stadiums – one that hosts the Bengals and the other that hosts the Reds – was a great example of integrating sports stadiums with existing assets in your city, rather than acting as their own islands. The riverfront embraced the walkability of downtown and encouraged spaces to linger after events and games. As Cincinnati encourages more residential in the downtown area, the riverfront park acts as a backyard for new and existing residents.  This intentional planning can connect downtown spaces to rivers and stadiums, making them not only pedestrian friendly, but also lovely to be in.

Inspired by CNU ’32

The conversations in between and after sessions is where Ashley and Aaron found the most inspiration. CNU ’32 was a gathering of likeminded people who are excited to build better cities in a sustainable way. Not only was it an opportunity to connect among peers, but also to hear from experts. Experts such as city officials who are transforming their cities or designers who are creating change through new or old forms.

 It is encouraging to see communities and individuals who have experienced large and small successes in revitalizing neighborhoods and cities. The local interaction was also inspiring – local businesses, local developers, diversity in project scale. This idea of local engagement is a way we plan to continue to move forward in our work: partnering with and equipping passionate people for local development.

Rapid Fire Questions

Favorite place to eat:

Ashley: Aladdin’s Eatery and Lounge

Aaron: Sacred Beast Diner

Favorite Session:

Ashley: “The Urban Form Standard: Dimensions for the Next 10,000 Years” – Examined urban areas over time and their commonalities, which comes down to street form and grid. A great reminder of the basics of what makes physical cities great.

Aaron: Sessions on incremental development and creative financing. These sessions are applicable to most places but in the small communities where we work, development like this is more sustainable, local, and diverse.


Advice for touring Cincinnati:

Wear good shoes! There are lovely buildings and places around every corner, so you must always keep going to see the next thing!


Advice for future CNU Conferences:

The best conversations happen outside of sessions – take advantage of the social opportunities to connect with people who have similar passions and are doing amazing things in the places they live. It would be difficult to leave without learning and growing, but at a minimum, you will be inspired!

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