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The Imagining Livability Design Collection

A visual portfolio of tools and transformations

Cover of the Imagining Livability Design Collection

Click on the image to download a PDF of the complete collection.

AARP Livable Communities
and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute regularly work together to provide inspiration and technical assistance to communities throughout the United States. In the work we do, nothing beats the power of being able to see into the future. Since that's not possible (at least not yet!), an effective way to show the potential of a street is to create a "photovision."

We start with a "before" image of a place that needs improvements to make it more walkable, bike friendly and livable. From there, we develop a vision for how the location could look.

The Imagining Livability Design Collection describes some of the most common tools and treatments for creating age-friendly environments. The transformation photovisions help community members and local leaders imagine what's possible, develop a shared vision for the future and act upon that vision.

The Tools

  • Short-Range Projects include Bicycle Lanes, Chicanes, Crossing Islands, Curb Extensions, Directions (or "Wayfinding"), Head-Out Diagonal Parking, Lane Narrowing, Parklets and Pocket Parks, Pedestrian-Scaled Lighting, Rain Gardens, Safety Buffers, Sharrows and Street Trees

  • Mid-Range Projects: Roundabouts, Road Diets, Shared-Use Paths and Sheltered Bus Stops

  • Long-Range Projects: Liner Buildings and Mixed-Use Development

  • Planning & Policies: Complete Streets Policies, Form-Based Codes, Health Impact Assessments, and Placemaking


  • Rural and Local Roads: Getting People Across a Bridge (Underhill Flats, Vermont); Honoring the Past, "Placemaking" for the Future (Clarksdale, Mississippi); A Better Intersection for Beachgoers (Kailua, Hawaii); Traffic Calming a Mixed-Use Street (Burlington, Vermont)

  • Small-Town Main Streets: Inspiring Redevelopment (Kingston, Tennessee); Making Downtown a Destination (Avondale Estates, Georgia); Revitalizing Main Street (Batesville, Arkansas)

  • Suburban Streets and Commercial Strips: Improving Community Access (Winter Garden, Florida); Connecting a Neighborhood and its Surroundings (Forth Worth, Texas); Putting Crosswalks Where People Need Them (Detroit, Michigan); Making Parking More Productive (Tupelo, Mississippi); Repairing a Deadly Street (Atlantic City, New Jersey); Celebrating an Arts Heritage (Exmore, Virginia)

  • Urban Streets and Downtowns: Improving a Complex Intersection (Dallas, Texas); Redesigning a Downtown Street (Augusta, Georgia); Making a Riverwalk Approach More Walkable (New Orleans, Louisiana)

  • Back Streets and Underused Spaces: Creating a Festival Street (Birmingham, Alabama); Bringing an Alley to Life (Brownsville, Texas); Connecting the Community to a Key Asset (York, Pennsylvania); Creating a Trail for Recreation and Evacuation (Orange Beach, California)

The Imagining Livability Design Collection was published in Spring 2015 by AARP Livable Communities and the Walkable and Livable Communities Instiitute (WALC). The report was written by Kelly Morphy and Robert Ping (WALC) and project managed and edited by Jeanne Anthony and Melissa Stanton (AARP).

AARP LivabilityFact Sheets

Download the collection or select from the 11 individual fact sheets.

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The AARP Livability Fact Sheets series and the AARP HomeFit Guide are first-place winners in the Clearmark Awards. The Imagining Livability Design Collection received Platinum-level honors from the MarCom Awards.

Stay Informed — For Free!

Each issue of the award-winning AARP Livable Communities e-Newsletter contains a mix of inspiring examples, community resources and information about livability efforts from places near and far. Subscribe today!

Three issues of the AARP Livable Communities Weekly E-Newsletter