40 / BUILDING DIALOGUE / March 2019 ELEMENTS Community Community by Design: Creating Space to Encourage Social Interaction and Connection W hat is community? As designers and builders, when we think about communities, we often think about the streets, homes, sidewalks, signs, parks and other buildings that help define the physical aspects of a place. We spend countless hours ensuring that the “vison” of a new neighbor- hood comes together. We talk about how wide the road should be, should the sidewalks be attached or detached, should the homes be front- or alley-load- ed. We talk about density, setbacks and zoning codes. Most importantly, we make decisions every day with one basic idea in mind, “How do we create a place where people want to live?” The most successful new communities take this conversation one step further. They go beyond the built environment and look at the social aspects of how people interact with one another. As a community designer and architect, I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the U.S., touring and working on different communities from coast to coast. I’ve seen very successful projects and some that struggle. I’ve seen that great communities sell homes even in the worst economies. I’ve learned one very important lesson: Community design isn’t about the collection of built things, it’s about creat- ing places to encourage connection, that allow peo- ple to bump into each other and form relationships. I’ve determined that neighborhood amenities are the catalyst for creating community. l The clubhouse and pool. The clubhouse/pool area is the most recognized public gathering space in a community. It is usually a central feature in the community, hosting birthdays, 4th of July celebra- tions and movie nights. It often helps define the character of a neighborhood, establishing the iden- tity of a place. It can be the architectural icon of a neighborhood or a simple structure that is secondary to the homes around it. It can be a resort-style setting like the Hollows Beach Club in Lake Travis, Texas; a family focused pool like the Lake Club at the Lakes at Centerra in Loveland; or the amenity-packed Brigh- ton Crossing Beach Club in Brighton. The community pool isn’t just a place to cool off on a hot summer day; it’s about the children who form life-long friendships while doing cannon balls into the deep end, the teens that can safely experience a sense of freedom and the 20-something‘s who bond over a cold drink on a Sat- urday afternoon. l Coffee shop and neighborhood café. Many communi- ties are taking a new approach to community gath- ering spaces, taking inspiration from the “coffee shop around the corner.” The Blue Eyed Daisy Bakery at Serenbe outside of Atlanta or Biscotti’s Café at The Hub at Daybreak East in South Jordan, Utah, are two examples of community-centric cafes. These coffee shops are well designed, warm and welcoming places that serve great coffee and handcrafted food but are also so much more. Community coffee shops aren’t about the quick caffeine fix; what makes them special is the relationships formed. The guy who meets his David Poppleton, RA Associate and Senior Architect, DTJ Design. The Lake Club at Centerra The Hollows Beach Club