Successful transportation projects can result in multiple benefits, if properly designed, according to a report released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in January. Titled “Moving Communities Forward: How Well-Designed Transportation Projects Make Great Places,” the report generated six keys principles and practices that have broad applications:

  • Develop a unified plan with an integrated team of design professionals.
  • Include community stakeholders throughout the design process
  • Use clear graphics to increase understanding of the design intent (including new tools like building information modeling and geographic information systems).
  • Create human-scaled buildings and spaces.
  • Incorporate clear signage to allow easy navigation of complex, multimodal stations.
  • Design projects to be durable and adaptable.
  • Nearly 30 projects were surveyed using a case study methodology. Different regions, demographics, and project types were included to generate information applicable to the broadest range of transportation-related projects. The report notes specific benefits created through successful designs: promoting economic development, improving health and the environment, providing great places, fostering civic participation, and making communities safer.

    Transportation-related projects pose a particular opportunity for advancing environmental issues. Buildings account for 48 percent of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The transportation sector adds 27 percent. Better design and integration of these projects serves an obvious and pressing need. Funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the study was jointly conducted by the AIA and the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies. Text of the full report is available at