Runstad Center Affiliate Fellow, Joe David, concludes our series of blog posts documenting the 2015-16 Fellows’ experiences in Auckland, New Zealand last spring.
The 2015-2106 Runstad Center Affiliate Fellows had the privilege to spend a week in late March exploring the city of Auckland, New Zealand – A community which is grappling with many of the same opportunities and challenges that Seattle currently faces in the midst rapid population growth.
Our group spent seven non-stop days meeting with private developers, architects, transportation planners, utility planners, real-estate associations, community activists, and city officials. The goal was to learn as much as possible about the role that the right-of-way could play in fostering community spirit, advancing sustainable planning, and promoting mass transit. It was our belief that these areas of inquiry could unlock the opportunities that the public realm presented. This scope was intended to help us focus our efforts so that we could return with well-articulated recommendations for our own community.
We succeeded in learning about those specific aspects of Auckland’s streetscape, but more importantly, we discovered a city that had gone to great lengths to break down these very silos – instilling a holistic visionary approach to city building. We discovered a city with a clear vision for itself, a streamlined governance structure to implement that vision, city agencies that were empowered to take calculated risk, and a culture that used mistakes as an opportunity to learn and quickly advance. Vision, financing, love of place, economics, culture, history and vibrant city living are all nested together as one multi-pronged strategy.
The Fellows have returned to Seattle with clear examples of how a community facing similar challenges of population growth has rallied to create “the most livable city in the world”. We present ideas for how Seattle and the region can learn from this example and harness the cultural, economic, creative potential of its own streets.