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Incremental Urbanism at the Willowbrook MLK Wellness Community

Photo credit: Gensler

"Incremental urbanism" is the idea that revitalization efforts in urban environments will only take hold if communities approach such efforts one step at a time. Identify a positive change, such as sprucing up a neighborhood park or creating easier access to a bus stop, make that change, and let it create a snowball effect that will spur further rejuvenation. Taking an incremental approach engenders pride among residents and incentivizes community buy-in. Try to implement a comprehensive rejuvenation plan all at once and the chance of failure increases. You don’t climb mountains in a single bound; the same logic applies to large-scale urban development.

When we began work on a master plan for the Willowbrook MLK Wellness Community, we realized that the philosophy of incremental urbanism would have to inform how we approached the project. This facility exists to provide local residents with access to basic medical services, but we saw a greater opportunity to create a community center that would inspire all residents to live better lives. To accomplish this, we created a plan for the Willowbrook MLK Wellness Community that tackles the challenge of creating a healthy, well-connected community one step at a time and demonstrates that small changes can eventually yield large impacts. The following video explains our vision for the new wellness community, and we look forward to further discussing this project in the coming weeks.

Video credit: Gensler

Brian Glodney is enchanted by all things urban, and his passion rests in creating healthy, sustainable, and vibrant places and cities. Brian's work has allowed him to study, experience, and work within the thriving metropolis, the downtrodden exurbs, and everything in between. As a Recognized Practitioner of Urban Design, it is his enthusiasm for urban design that permeates his work at every scale, from creating healthy community visions, to urban infill projects, to sports-anchored mixed-use. You can contact Brian at brian_glodney@gensler.com.
Claudia Carol is the planning and urban design practice area leader of Gensler’s southwest region, with over 25 years of architectural and planning experience ranging from schools and universities to healthcare campuses to mixed-use developments and hospitality projects. Her delight in the urban environment encompasses both the built and experiential aspects of our cities. Contact Claudia at claudia_carol@gensler.com.

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