Where the Future is Built, There Will Be Art

Known amongst experts to be “where the future is built,” the ULI Fall Meeting provides a platform for research, education, thought leadership, and problem solving for all those involved in shaping the built environment. Our team was thrilled to join over 5,000 industry professionals in Dallas to discuss placemaking trends and complex challenges, from ensuring equitable access to capital to future-proofing buildings for climate change, and more. After four days of networking, project tours, and insightful presentations, one thing is clear: creative placemaking will be a vital tool for innovation, equity, and renewal as we continue building back from the pandemic and building better for our communities.

Here’s what we’re most excited about following the 2022 ULI Fall Meeting: 

The Value of Art in the Built Environment: Economic & Livability Benefits

If placemaking involves shaping the built environment, then art is the catalyst for transformation. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, art brings tremendous social and financial value to the many corporate, leisure, and public places where we live, work, and play. And in her presentation to a ULI program council, Chief Curator Molly Casey elaborated on the benefits of integrating art and culture into master-planned communities, sharing best practices for human-centered design, building creative collaborations, engaging local communities, and more. 

This discussion uncovered the many ways in which creative placemaking can help solve challenges in the built environment related to housing, transportation, health, and business development – meanwhile improving our quality of life. Livability and economic benefits include: 

  • Workforce development
  • Increased innovation
  • Competitive advantage
  • Community building, stewardship, and pride
  • Increased public safety
  • And more

“Creative placemaking, or leveraging art and culture in tandem with great design, is a proven accelerator for real estate development projects.” Urban Land Institute

Strategic Planning: A Focus on People

A recurring theme across panels and presentations was how the real estate industry should be navigating the current economy, recognizing the consequences that rising prices, labor shortages, shipping delays, and other challenges have had on projects. One panel predicted a “short and shallow” recession in 2023, while others spoke of poor market conditions and increasingly expensive projects through at least 2024, followed by a resurgence of growth in 2025 when interest rates are predicted to fall. So what do such predictions mean?

According to several leaders, they indicate that the next two years will be spent building strong teams, planning strategically for the future, and preparing to strike when the time is right. Recommendations included:

  • Take care of your teams, ensuring retention and satisfaction such that companies are well-equipped when the market bounces back.
  • Hone your marketing efforts now to build brand recognition when projects pick up again and developers begin hiring short and long term partners.
  • Do the necessary pre-planning before construction begins, from design and architecture to art and cultural planning. Such early planning will help you maximize impact when it’s time to start building.
  • Focus on experiences. Consider the 2022 trends that are sure to continue in the future, like designing to promote human interaction, making the workplace a destination, and building authenticity into projects such that your audience can derive more meaning and satisfaction from visiting your space. 

These insights suggest that the real estate industry will need to focus intentionally on people in the coming years – from internal staff and project partners to the audiences who will eventually become visitors, tenants, and guests of various projects in development. 

Fortunately, art and culture are powerful tools for expressing, engaging, and elevating the human experience, especially when integrated early in a project’s lifecycle. Community art planning – traditionally known as art master planning – can aid real estate professionals during the next few years of strategic project planning, helping to maximize impact by identifying major art locations, typologies, criteria, and financing strategies. Through deep, contextualized research and community engagement, community art plans leverage art and culture to shape the character of a place, improve the health of its residents and visitors, and build social equity into real estate practices – all central goals of the Urban Land Institute. 

Despite economic uncertainties, we look forward to helping our partners reap the social and financial benefits of creative placemaking, leading to more thoughtful and authentic destinations where people want to be. So no matter the challenges, changes, and opportunities that lie ahead, we find hope in knowing that where the future is built, there will be art! 

Get a recap of the 2022 Independent Lodging Congress and Bisnow events in Nashville, Austin, and Phoenix.