Urban Retail: Essential Planning, Design and Management Practices

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This program examines the planning approaches, retail design and merchandising principles necessary for the creation of place-based commerce. This includes tactics used by premier retail and mixed-use developers and considers how they can be applied to a variety of settings. Retailing—the exchange of goods, services and experiences—is in the midst of change unprecedented in modern times. In a time when the internet globally democratizes shopping, and social media exercises an outsized and immediate influence upon consumer behavior, the demand by people around the world for public places where both commerce and socialization thrive has never been greater.
Expanded Description:
Many recent expensive efforts to revitalize downtowns or build new centers have failed because the adopted design and planning recommendations along with poor implementation approaches hurt commerce. New and old towns need intelligent strategies for the survival of their commercial life. Sustainable development and vibrant community life are impossible without these strategies. In this program, we will explore the practical science of analyzing and adjusting all elements known to affect a shopper's mood in the marketplace, and how that informs design and development principles for reviving retail in declining downtowns and for establishing viable commerce in new ones.
Other particular areas of focus will include:
• The expanding implementation of Form-Based Codes, and their particular impact—good and bad—upon commercial development, including repositioning tactics for failed suburban malls, and for bringing urbanism to the suburbs;
• The intersection of virtual commerce and great retail-centric gathering places;
• The fundamentals of retail market research and site selection criteria by each retail category and many national retail tenants;
• An introduction to consumer psychographics, and how this field leads to an understanding of and exerts influence consumer behavior;
• An optional tour and analysis of the evolving retail district of Harvard Square;
• Tactical design approaches including strategic tenant mix; advantageous and profitable pedestrian and vehicular circulation patterns; and appropriate streetscape, building and storefront designs;
• The expanding importance of food in its many forms in the creation and sustainability of retail places; and
• International trends and opportunities, and the connections universally shared among great retail places around the globe.
Who Should Attend: Developers, retailers, architects, landscape architects, planners, civic leaders, and city officials.
Cambridge, MA
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Development Trends
Historic Preservation
Site Planning
Sustainable Development & Design
Urban Planning & Design
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
Learning Objectives:
• The public’s increasing desire for walkable and connected environments, the health benefits associated with them, and the keys to delivering them within the modern commercial development environment.
• The use of WalkScore by investors in evaluating the value and desirability of real estate.
• The art and science of crafting mixed-use environments to take advantage of shared parking formulas in order to reduce the total number of parking spaces constructed.
• The emerging impact of ride share (such as Uber and Lyft) to further reduce the number of parking spaces provided.
• The environmental impact of mixed-use districts upon reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) through Internal Trip Capture (ITC) paired with walkability measures.
• Particular requirements for retail uses in Transit Oriented Design (TOD) districts.
• Market trends of retailers the value walkable, urban environments.
• Do’s and don’ts in designing mixed-use and/or pedestrian oriented commercial districts during the transition from auto-dominated requirements by retailers.
• The benefits of form based codes, and the pitfalls to avoid in crafting them.
• The increasing sensitivity to environmental issues by the world’s consumers, and how retailers and developers can address this reality and save money and the environment in the process.
Robert Gibbs, Terry Shook
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Harvard University Graduate School of Design

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