Cheers to the Twenty-Teens! A Note from the Gould Evans Studio for City Design

Cheers to the Twenty-Teens! A Note from the Gould Evans Studio for City Design

Hello and Happy New Year!

With 2019 officially ended, the Gould Evans Studio for City Design is excited to share the year’s highlights, major happenings, and special shout outs that helped wrap up the year!  Between the Making a Great City Speaker Series, Dennis Strait’s talk “We’ve Built a City We Can’t Afford,” and our partnership with the Incremental Development Alliance, it’s been a busy year. We’re endlessly grateful to our community, which honored us with awards, buzzy press mentions, and support in our ongoing efforts to make our home city smarter, more efficient and more accessible for all.


Gould Evans Studio for City Design accepts award for Westport District Master Plan

Gould Evans Won Two Outstanding Plan Awards from the American Planning Association (APA) – We are humbled to announce that our studio accepted the 2019 Outstanding Plan award for both the Westport District Master Plan (Missouri Chapter) and the Wichita: Places for People Plan (Kansas Chapter).

  • The Westport District Master Plan was the first plan in nearly 50 years to provide a more specific direction with regard to future development, preservation of its historic and pedestrian-friendly character, and ability to thrive as an authentically walkable area of Kansas City. Neighborhood-level analysis and planning was vital for addressing targeted opportunities and challenges specific to the vibrant mixed-use district.
  • Wichita, like most communities for the past 70 years, has been designed to accommodate the automobile, even in its older urban areas. An assessment of Wichita’s urban core for its development potential and walkability was undertaken by evaluating the market context, development form, street typologies, and a walking demand analysis. The assessment allowed the consultant team to identify target areas most in need of improvement, areas of opportunity, and those not in immediate need of attention—areas of stability. From the assessment, the changes needed to promote a walkable development pattern were identified, as well as the tools needed to implement that change.

Crosby Historic Preservation Award – Gould Evans received the 2019 Crosby Award recognizing both the Westport District Master Plan and renovation of the Plaza Laundry building, the new home of Gould Evans’ Kansas City office. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by, we’d love to show you around the new space!

What We’ve Been Working On

Phoenix Transit-Oriented Development – Focused on building trust through communication, consistency and accountability, our team embraced this opportunity to empower community voices through groundbreaking development strategies and innovation, building upon existing community values and providing a vibrant and inclusive future. Our team, including the Center for Neighborhood Technology and Promise Arizona, was focused on honoring the history and culture of South-Central Phoenix and worked alongside the community to envision the possibilities for the future. The collective goal continues to be to leave behind a legacy for the community and for the City of Phoenix, demonstrating a national precedent for TOD planning in support of its people.

Indy Transit-Oriented Development Plan, Gould Evans Studio for City Design

Indy Transit-Oriented Development – As Bus Rapid Transit (“BRT”) is implemented in Indy, it will be critically important to build with transit in mind. Our team is working hard to ensure new development around the BRT stops evolve the area into walkable environments that support the complete mobility system, including people walking, biking, and requiring universal access. This type of development pattern will encourage long-lasting investments that will welcome new neighbors, expand opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs, and allow Indy to become more economically and environmentally resilient! Learn more at

City of Brighton, Colorado Land Use and Development Code Update

The City of Brighton, Colorado followed up their 2016 comprehensive plan with an overhaul of their development regulations.  Gould Evans lead a team of planners, city staff and public officials on a “Metro Innovations Tour” of front range communities that exemplified principles in their plan.  Participants were able to see, feel, experience, and measure actual projects, and see their city – and how development codes impact their city – in a new way.  This new insight and understanding was the foundation to robust discussions around new and innovative code strategies aimed at expediting development procedures and elevating urban design principles.  The result was a comprehensive rewrite of the standards with many innovative and leading-edge planning and urban design principles that was unanimously adopted.

North Kansas City, MO Zoning Ordinance Update

North Kansas City has a unique blend of small-town ambience, walkable urban neighborhoods and historic industrial districts.  Positioned immediately north and across the river of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, North Kansas City benefits from premium regional proximity and the bones of more efficient era of development.  As we return to eclectic, human-scale and walkable urban places, North Kansas City is uniquely positioned.  Gould Evans assisted the City with a rewrite of its zoning ordinance to help the city, stakeholders and citizens to capitalize on these advantages.  The new code promotes simple rules that will mix a variety of small-scale housing types into their cohesive neighborhood fabric and urban areas form based code that shifts the emphasis for non-residential development from use-based standards to standards based on how buildings and sites compliment the public realm.

Making a Great City Speaker Series

Image credit: Kansas City Public Library

The Making a Great City speaker series, which launched in 2018 to advance solutions to our country’s infrastructure crisis, continued into 2019 to inspire great local conversations. Here’s a summary of the great conversations that took place:

  • Kurt CulbertsonCulbertson, the chairman and CEO of Design Workshop, traced landscape architect George Kessler’s background and how it shaped his vision for Kansas City’s parks and boulevards. Kessler’s understanding of political and financial support systems for American cities—predating zoning, codes, and planning controls—helped ensure the implementation and success of that vision. Video recording of this lecture is available here.
  • Leon Younger – Younger, one of the nation’s most accomplished parks and recreation consultants, assessed the state of Kansas City’s parks and boulevards today, identified their challenges, and offered some near-term solutions. Video recording of this lecture is available here.
  • Susan Rademacher – Rademacher joined us in May as a leader in the parks conservancy movement to examine dilemmas and strategies related to keeping Kansas City’s signature system of parks and boulevards relevant and sustainable. She explored how partnerships with nonprofit organizations and other agencies have helped maintain or transform systems elsewhere. Audio recording of this lecture is available here.
  • Kevin Klinkenberg – In September, urban planner, designer, and architect Kevin Klinkenberg examined why and how cities are changing, who the winners and losers have been, and how municipalities can make the most of this evolution – looking closely at Kansas City and other noncoastal metropolitan areas. Video recording of this lecture is available here.
  • Chuck Marohn and Joe Minicozzi

Dennis Strait: “We’ve Built a City We Can’t Afford”

Gould Evans Principal Dennis Strait giving a talk about the infrastructure problems facing our cities

Dennis Strait, Managing Principal of Gould Evans’ Kansas City studio, has been all over the metro sharing a presentation that brings into focus the root of the infrastructure problems facing our cities.  Like Kansas City, communities across the country are facing a fundamental problem: we’ve built cities we can’t afford.  The cause is so imbedded in the fabric of our lifestyle, it can be difficult to see.  Yet once you see it, it’s hard to un-see.

Once we can see the problem, it’s easier to understand potential solutions. Look out for future opportunities to join this important conversation and discuss ways of moving forward to create a stronger and more equitable metro!

Incremental Development Alliance of KC

A meeting of the Incremental Development Alliance of KC

Urban designer Abby Kinney launched the local Kansas City area chapter of the Incremental Development Alliance, an initiative celebrating small bets and providing access to information about small-scale development strategies. IncDev is a national volunteer organization of developers focused on neighborhood-scale development with a mission of empowering local people to help build in their communities.

This local chapter has met each month throughout 2019 to share experiences and build a network of like-minded community developers and people who support them. A special thank you to our local developers and 2019 speakers: Terrell Jolly, Thomas and Maren Morefield, Kevin Klinkenberg, Butch Rigby, Diane Botwin, Audrey Navarro, Dennis Strait, Kevin McGinnis, Diane Binckley, Jeff Williams, Pat Franke, and Addison Bliss. Another special thank you to the venues who have hosted our grassroots program: Charlie Hooper’s, The Well, The Bunker Center for the Arts, and PH Coffee.

In July, the founder of the Incremental Development Alliance John Anderson traveled to Kansas City to talk small-scale development with our network. The video presentation can be watched here.

IncDevKC is proud to announce that we will be collaborating with the Kansas City Urban Land Institute in 2020 to advance their Real Estate Diversity Initiative (REDi) program. REDi is a comprehensive, 15 session curriculum designed to advance the real estate careers of professionals of color and women. The first cohort was completed in December of 2019 and will continue into 2020.

You can read more about our speakers and this initiative here.


Dennis Strait of Gould Evans participating in the Strong Towns Podcast

Dennis Strait of Gould Evans participating in the Strong Towns Podcast to talk about Kansas City’s shifting development culture.

The Strong Towns Podcast – Dennis Strait, Principal at Gould Evans, joined Chuck Marohn, Joe Minicozzi, and Kevin Klinkenberg on the Strong Towns podcast to talk about Kansas City’s shifting development culture.

Grill Nation Podcast – Dennis Strait, Principal at Gould Evans, was featured on Grill Nation with Jason Grill to discuss the concept of performance-based cities, and why measuring value by acreage is more important than measuring value by properties.

6 Rules for Unlocking the Potential of Mid-Size Cities – Abby Kinney and Dennis Strait coauthored an op-ed for Strong Towns intended to raise questions about how mid-sized cities like Kansas City can provide long-term solutions to housing affordability.

APA Quad State – Abby Kinney and Dennis Strait headed down to Tulsa, OK to present on a performance-based approach to planning analysis, and how this insight can inform outcomes.

Shout Outs

  • Congratulations to Kevin Klinkenberg for his new role as Executive Director at Midtown KC Now – Welcome back to Kansas City!
  • Props to Sara Copeland for making major strides this year in North Kansas City – from bike lanes to a new development code that provides an Urban Areas form-based code and missing middle housing standards, we appreciate all you do!
  • KC became the first major U.S. city to make public transit free, in addition to launching the fare-free streetcar and now-free Prospect MAX.
  • Thank you Christal Watson for your dedication to ULI’s Equitable Development Initiative – This month, ULI completed their first REDI semester! 

Thank you for making this a great decade!

As the Gould Evans Studio for City Design, we have intentionally dedicated our efforts towards advocating for a better way to build in our cities. In this new decade, we will continue to support incremental development, promote an urban design approach to city building, and participate in meaningful discussions that facilitate more equitable and prosperous cities. We are grateful for the Kansas City community’s continued participation in these conversations.

Cheers to 2020!

Dennis Strait, Graham Smith, Chris Brewster, Robert Whitman, Abby Kinney, Yu Jia, and Julie Nelson Meers