Some 225 architects and community leaders are meeting in Des Moines today (Friday) to brainstorm over ways to make Iowa’s cities “cooler” — to prevent young people from moving away and to make older people happier and healthier. Kevin Monson, president-elect of the Iowa chapter of the American Institute of Architects, says Iowa needs to reinvent itself.
Monson, an architect in Iowa City, says “We need to change in order to stop the erosion of our population. We need to change to improve the prospects of our young people staying here and also that it’s a good place for our retirees to live and play as well.” The one-day conference is called “Designing Cool Communities,” and Monson says it’s devoted to exploring options to make Iowa cities and towns more livable and more inviting.
He says there’s historically been a migration out of Iowa over the last 40 years and architects and community leaders can reverse that by designing and creating buildings and communities that provide a higher quality of life, an economic vitality and by promoting “smart growth.” By that, he says communities should encourage people to walk more, to be closer to their businesses and homes, and to live healthy lifestyles.
Monson says several Iowa communities are examples of smart growth already, including Coralville, Burlington, Storm Lake, Charles City and Decorah.