The Case for Integrating Research Facilities Into Cities

David Green, Perkins+Will

There is an emerging trend across the globe to incorporate basic and translational research into thriving urban communities. As innovation has become a focus of much academic discourse and economic development, it would serve us well to understand that these processes historically occurred in a very specific environment: the city. We are now tasked with cultivating innovation in contemporary urban environments, but in many cases the fundamental elements that historically supported invention and experimentation are being overlooked, or even prohibited, in current planning and urban design efforts.

Through simple planning principles backed by performance-driven criteria, we are creating high-performing research and innovation districts. The tools and techniques include policy and regulatory reform, development parameters, infrastructure management and tracking, and real-time planning modifications. But the foundation for these projects is always based on the fundamental goal of creating walkable, connected, and richly experiential settings. Through research on historically successful areas, we identify specific analytical tools to measure and project circumstances that facilitate research and innovation, both in revitalized urban areas and newly established areas as well.

This presentation will take the audience through a brief history of cities as research environments, identify the fundamental issues and clearly describe how these can be translated into today’s cities.

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze and evaluate the impact that 20th century research environments have had on land-use patterns and translate this impact into a current design based set of solutions that facilitate sustainable and flexible development.
  • Determine, demonstrate and apply changes in regulating and tracking planning and development of urban research environments utilizing research and evaluation techniques that mirror basic research methodologies.
  • Apply knowledge of sustainability metrics and health metrics to facilitate design based on performance-based systems, moving beyond checklists. Further, bring this methodology to light with consensus platform for multiple stakeholders and providers.


David Green focuses on large-scale planning and urban design projects for the firm. He has been involved in hundreds of projects in the past twenty-five years, encompassing all scales of development from individual buildings to multi-thousand acre projects across the globe. His work focuses on issues of development, particularly the creation of health and research districts in urban areas and the design and metrics that facilitate the success of these districts. He further addresses the regulatory framework within which this development occurs, and provides innovative strategies for appropriate policy implementation that allows for the seamless incorporation of research and healthcare specific elements in new districts. David received the AIA Atlanta Silver Medal in 2003 and the AIA Georgia Bronze Medal in 2008. David was a member of Georgia Tech College of Architecture Faculty from 1992-2013; appointed Professor of the Practice of Architecture, where he taught studios focused on research both at the building level and as urban design studios. He is currently located in both the Atlanta and London offices of Perkins+Will, leading planning efforts in globally for the Cities+Sites practice. He lectures and publishes widely on issues of urban design, planning and architecture.


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