In December, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released results of its quarterly trends survey that confirmed the growing demand for compact, infill development over suburban sprawl. Previously driven by demographics (young singles/couples and active boomers), and higher development fees and longer approvals processes for new outlying subdivisions, the urban movement now has more economic inspirations: the slumping economy (and housing prices), the fear of high gas prices, and childhood obesity.
“Due to the prolonged decline in housing construction and increasing commuting costs, consumer preferences for community design [are] shifting away from areas removed from metropolitan hubs and toward infill sites that have greater access to public transportation options,” says the report.
The report points out the benefits of building in town, including neighborhood vitality and sustainability. It also references a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that shows green or compact neighborhood design can help mitigate growing rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.
With weak house prices in most markets, the AIA survey reports that home buyers are looking for locations where houses will retain value. Infill locations offer more convenient access to employment centers, commercial opportunities, and other daily household activities, bolstering their long-term value.
The “AIA Home Design Trend Survey” is conducted quarterly with a panel of 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. For more information, go to www.aia.org.