Envision Utah, Salt Lake City Metropolitan Area, Utah

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This plan was developed to catalyze compact development and open space preservation in the Salt Lake City Region. In this unique planning process, the general public was empowered with the knowledge and tools necessary to make decisions effecting the quality of their surroundings.

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. Metropolitan Area

Envision Utah, Salt Lake City Metropolitan Area, Utah
The Greater Wasatch Area has experienced a development boom over the past decade, and is predicted to triple in population by 2050. In the mid-’90s, with population growing fast, activists and leaders in the 700-square-mile region became concerned about the future of the water and transportation infrastructure, housing supply, schools, natural resources, and air quality. The Envision Utah plan arose out of their effort to educate the public about the issues and consequences associated with this growth.
The plan was formed through an extensive public education and workshop process. There were two results: A plan for compact development and open space preservation, and a public empowered with the knowledge and tools necessary to make decisions that will effect the quality of their surroundings over time.
“This is an exemplary public participation process for metro-wide planning,” says juror Anne Vernez-Moudon. “This plan really works with existing development patterns and concentrates on redirecting conventional development practices to make them more sustainable.”
The planning process had several phases. First, participants in public workshops were taught about the regional effects of different types of development. They learned about the legal, environmental, and economic constraints of different types of development. In looking at the region as a whole, participants saw themselves as regional citizens whose vision could supercede jurisdictional and local boundaries.
In the second phase, residents used this knowledge in hands-on work to plan development scenarios. Workshop participants distributed different types of development across base maps in one-square mile increments. They used icons to represent types of development, from walkable and transit-friendly developments to large-lot subdivisions to office parks. Participants also plotted what transportation would most effectively serve their land development scenario. They grappled with such issues as balancing jobs and housing, facing the institutional difficulty of infill development, and protecting agricultural land.
In addition to these planning workshops, seven other public workshops were held to measure residents’ reactions to various kinds of development and growth patterns, from compact to sprawling.
After a year of workshops, Envision Utah released four regional growth scenarios, illustrating the projected consequences of different growth and development practices. The region’s major daily newspaper distributed 570,000 copies of these scenarios, along with a mail-in survey. Almost 50 town meetings were held in communities throughout the Greater Wasatch area to solicit input on a preferred development scenario and growth strategy. This effort to attract public input was by far the most ambitious of any Charter Awards submission.
In the second year of the process, the planning consultants created a series of maps to illustrate the developing “Quality Growth Strategy.” Each map represened a major component of the strategy. When layered, these components created a composite concept map. This ability to isolate or combine mapped elements like centers, infill, new growth, and open space became an essential tool. By assessing impact and weighing options with visual aids, the community was able to invest faith in the growth of a region.
The resulting modeling demonstrated that strategies oriented around walkable neighborhoods would preserve hundreds of square miles of undeveloped land and billions of dollars in infrastructure costs. As a result, the Salt Lake City region now has a collective vision for future growth, giving local governments a clear motivation to develop infill and mass transit.
Project: Envision Utah, Salt Lake City metropolitan area, Utah
Site: The Salt Lake City metropolitan area, also known as the Greater Wasatch Area. Abundant in natural assets, the region is under pressure as a result of a steadily growing population.
Program: Region-wide public process to show public and decision-makers what tradeoffs will result from growth patterns. Became a consensus-building exercise for the Salt Lake region, in which many members of the public expressed support for compact development.

Architect: Calthorpe Associates
Architect: Fregonese Calthorpe Associates
Client: Coalition for Utah's Future

Transect Zone(s): T1 preserve.
Status: <Unknown>
Project or Plan's Scale: Metropolis
Land area (in acres): 448000
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Project team designers: Fregonese Calthorpe Associates
Project team developers: Fregonese Calthorpe Associates

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Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -