A central focus of the planning and urban design studio at MRA is the community-centered approach that partners with the community to understand the vision and the pathway forward. One-on-one interviews with key stakeholders and facilitated group discussion through focus groups and public meetings are conducted to gain an understanding of the goals of the community, key projects underway, and current successes to be celebrated. Looking for solutions that evolve from the site and stakeholders themselves, our approach encourages community members to inform and refine design solutions throughout the process. Once complete, this co-authorship of the plan creates a stronger sense of ownership and ensures successful implementation in the years to come.
At MRA, we understand that good design is integral to any economic development plan. Throughout our work in Main Street communities, we look for opportunities to create vibrant, comfortable, and engaging public spaces that attract people downtown and support a viable business community. Whether park spaces, streetscapes, or pop-up spaces in alleys and parking lots, we know that good design can create ideal conditions for local, small-businesses to thrive and will support economic growth in the area. With this in mind, we encourage pedestrian-friendly solutions to create walkable downtowns that encourage extended stays and repeat visits. If appropriate, infill strategies are proposed to ensure that development occurs in places where it will have the greatest positive impact on a diverse business community, healthy downtown economy, and livable community.
We believe in solutions that strengthen and connect existing assets of the community to enhance the experience of those who live, work, shop, or play in the district. With an eye toward visionary ideas that capture the imagination and inspire, we understand that the best ideas are also practical and grounded in economic and implementation realities. We look for catalysts that allow the plan to gain momentum as one seemingly small improvement attracts additional investment and support from the community. The plans are framed by guiding principles that remain flexible to accommodate shifting influences and priorities as they evolve over time. Through this approach, we are able to help cultivate unique destinations that are rooted in their surroundings and community.