We had a great couple of events recently with the 2015 Runstad Fellows, a six-person research group visiting from Seattle in the United States to find out more about what they perceive as successful design and development outcomes in Auckland.
It's humbling and refreshing to hear people from outside of Auckland compliment the city on its design. They were taken with the way Auckland Council has delivered the central city streets that merge traffic and pedestrians, and they regularly made comments about the 'generosity' of our public spaces. Pushed for examples of this, they mentioned the quality of our street furniture and the attention to detail in things like the badges next to stormwater drains that tell people our drains connect to the sea.
Being in Auckland day-to-day as it evolves, it's easy to forget how great stuff like this is in our city. These comments from visitors gave me fresh eyes when I took my two-year old into the city last weekend. So much of the stuff in the central city that is freely available for anyone to use is high quality. The new playground in Myers Park, the many spaces in Wynyard Quarter - even the bus stops, street benches, and buses that we paused on or rode on between those two. Auckland still has much to do, but these are great examples of what is being done well.
At Evident we're inspired from afar by some pretty cool stuff in Seattle though. The Bullitt Center, for one - home to the Living Building Challenge and greenest commercial building in the world. And IslandWood, for another - a 255-acre environmental educational centre set up by Debbi & Paul Brainerd, the couple behind the Glenorchy Marketplace we are currently working on.
I had no idea Seattle and Auckland were so similar until the Runstad group explained they had selected Auckland to visit for precisely that reason. Hopefully their visit was the beginning of an exchange of ideas between the two cities that can help us learn from one another's successes.