By Neal Payton

Enhancing the Resiliency of the Built Environment

As Architects of a Better World, Torti Gallas + Partners is dedicated to enhancing the resiliency of the built environment for the benefit of those who inhabit it. Our work in the design of cities, neighborhoods, blocks, and buildings, helps to nurture the evolution of communities characterized by social diversity and economic vitality.  Premised on the inextricable relationship between urbanism and architecture, we strive to achieve a ‘sense of place’ in our work that incorporates the specifics of the region, the site and the culture within which it sits.

It all begins with walking.  We know that that the most resilient communities, i.e., the most environmentally sustainable, socially diverse and economically vital communities, are also among the most walkable.  Such places reduce the reliance on cars and provide alternative mobility options that are accessible to everyone. Such places inevitably include a mix of uses providing for daily needs such as shops, restaurants, and grocery stores as well as places to live and work all within a walkable envelope. They are designed to be safe for pedestrians and encourage walking, biking and the use of transit. By giving people the choice to walk rather than drive, not only can the consumption of fossil fuels and the emission of carbon and air polluting chemicals be reduced, but folks have the opportunity to improve their own health and their quality of life. 

Park Triangle, Washington, DC

Park Triangle, Washington, DC

Given that the desirability of walkable neighborhoods is measurable in the real estate premiums they command, we also embrace the global challenge of increasing equity within areas where it is needed the most. Even as we recognize the link between well designed space and a better quality of life, we steadfastly maintain a particular focus on affordable and workforce housing, i.e., inclusive community development, in order to ensure that folks along the entire income and social spectrum enjoy equitable access to the benefits a local economy has to offer. As students of history, we understand the impact that the built environment has had on inequality in the past, and we draw lessons from that understanding in order help create a more equitable society for the future

Our commitment to design resilient neighborhoods is founded on traditional city building principles exemplified by some of the world’s most cherished cities and buttressed by the skillful incorporation of new ideas and technologies that allow us to build cleaner and more efficiently than ever before. Given the roles that the building industry and cities have on energy consumption and the planet’s rapidly changing climate, we recognize and accept the responsibility to build durable and flexible communities that can adapt to the changing needs of its inhabitants. Furthermore, by enabling the evolution of economically and socially diverse communities that are both walkable and contextually sensitive, we empower communities to take ownership of their neighborhoods thus, ensuring their long-term viability.  The most valuable insurance policy for the built environment is one based on the civic pride of its people because the love of place is a powerful agent that motivates its own protection and improvement.

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