MORE THAN GREEN: Downtown St. Louis has been transformed by the award-winning Citygarden, shown at left, which combines green space and public art in a design that encourages human interaction. Below, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center sits right on San Antonio’s famed RiverWalk. For decades, the walkways along the river have gathered people together and recent expansions have added new, lushly landscaped sections.
For the book, Montgomery has interviewed numerous scien-
tistswhosework addresses hownatural landscapes and the design of public space affect how we feel and interact with one another. “We are surrounded by self-help books and life coaches that
have led us to believe that our wellbeing is something that we do all by ourselves—that it’s a matter of doing internal work,” Montgomery said. But “the evidence suggests that this is not com- pletely true.We are products of our environment, and the shapes and systems in which we move can affect how we feel, how we regard each other, and how we behave.” Understanding andembracing that can help second-tier cities
level the playing field of site selection, allowing them to compete more directly with—and to offer attendees a different experi- ence than—their first-tier counterparts.
It’s Only Natural It’s not news that nature is good for us. “Psychologists have real- ized that there is a big connection between landscape and how we feel and behave,” Montgomery said. “Simply having a view of nature can bring down your heart rate and lower the levels of stress hormones in your blood.” Indeed, a number of studies have concluded that exposure
to nature is demonstrably beneficial to our health. Hospital patients with views of trees recover more quickly than those whose rooms overlook other buildings; office workers report higher job satisfaction and fewer illnesses when they have views of nature. Drivers who travel on roads passing through green space have lower blood pressure and stress levels. And sur- rounding ourselves in nature can help us think better. A 2009
15 Convention Centers in HighlyWalkable Places
Second-tier cities may not be on the same footing as first- tier cities when it comes to numbers of hotel rooms or square footage of meeting space. But if planners also consider factors such as walkable downtowns, second-tier cities often shine just as brightly—and sometimes outshine—their bigger counterparts. You can easily find out the walkability of a specific destination
withan online tool developed by an organization calledWalk Score. The walkability calculator (http://walkscore.com) uses various indicators of walkability—including access to parks, restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping—and gives destinations a score from 1 to 100.You can find out the walkability of a city as a whole, or zero in on a specific address, such as a hotel or other meeting space. To create this list of highly walkable meeting destinations, Con-
vene plugged in addresses for convention centers in 15 second-tier U.S. cities. (Scores can change; these were the scores as we went to press.) This list is not comprehensive; if you know of a highly walka- ble destination that doesn’t appear here, we’d love to hear about it.
fourth most walkable downtown in the country. The convention center is within walking distance of more than 8,400 hotel rooms, as well as the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrian promenade that has more than two dozen outdoor cafés, numerous shops, and free bus transportation on every corner.
pcmaconvene February 2012
PHOTOS COURTESY ST. LOUIS CONVENTION & VISITORS COMMISSION; SAN ANTONIO CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU