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Last week, KEPHART’s own Chris Grady teamed up with Jared Carlon of Norris Design for a 15-minute Design Bites presentation for the NAHB. Design Bites is a series of quick-hitting presentations that occur on the third Thursday of the month, covering the hottest topics influencing design. For the February session, Chris and Jared tackled the subject of creating engaging communities by sharing their top tips for designing places where people want to live.

1. Offer flexibility in housing choices. Great communities include a variety of home types, from for sale to rental and single to multifamily, to appeal to a variety of resident profiles and lifestyles.

2. Create special places. Successful communities offer a mix of amenity areas that are indoors and outdoors and are thoughtfully planned to either be active places where residents can connect and celebrate with each other or passive places where they can relax and reconnect with themselves.

3. Provide walkability and connectivity. Be sure to leverage the full value of a site. Consider both internal and external features and amenities and create a network of pathways to connect to the important places within the community and those outside.

4. Design safe and friendly streets. Great communities start with a good street design that prioritizes pedestrians. Include detached sidewalks with tree lawns, curb cuts, and neck downs at corners for strollers and bikes in addition to areas of traffic calming.

5. Be environmentally sensitive. Take advantage of the topography and special features of the site. Orient homes to maximize solar opportunities, take advantage of detention, and consider agricultural uses such as community gardens.

6. Do something different! Be unique and make your community memorable. Include intriguing, useful, and appropriately sized amenity areas, and harness the power of good branding, architecture, and planning to create a compelling story that excites people about the community.

Ultimately, people want to live in a place that speaks to them and their values, so use these tips to create a community that captures that.

Below are the slides from the presentation:

To see a recording of the presentation and for access to the entire Design Bites series, including the next presentation on March 18th, click here.

If you are ready to explore further the ideas in this presentation and how they can successfully be integrated into your next community, please give us a call at 303.832.4474.


This is the philosophy that drives KEPHART to create thoughtful homes and communities that positively change people’s lives.

KEPHART is a nationally recognized, award-winning architectural design and planning firm with 50 years of housing expertise. Our passion for designing well-designed places to live, work, and play has driven us to create more than 500,000 homes across the country, ranging from single and multifamily homes to workforce housing, senior living, LIHTC communities, and everything in between. We have a deep bench of talented staff to design and deliver innovative and practical solutions to meet the unique requirements of every project.