The purpose of this project is to use principles of healthy neighborhoods and urban design to guide the revitalization plan for the United Northwest Area Neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana. The United Northwest Neighborhood is a distressed, predominantly African American neighborhood that lies within the boundaries of 38th Street to the north, Interstate 65 and Martin Luther King Jr. Street to the east, 16th Street to the south, and the White River on the west. The 2.1 square mile neighborhood is the site for a neighborhood urban design framework plan. Following the completion of the urban design framework plan, the Upper Canal, a waterway bisecting the neighborhood, was chosen as the site for a revitalization master plan based around the framework.
According to the World Health Organization, “health” is the combination of the social, physical, and mental wellbeing of an individual or group. Health is not simply the absence of infirmary. This project focuses on integrating principles of healthy neighborhoods and urban design to revitalize and improve the quality of life in the United Northwest Area Neighborhood. This is accomplished by creating a sustainable, walkable neighborhood that provides connections within the neighborhood as well as connections to the greater Indianapolis area, providing opportunities for physical activity and social connections, revitalizing brownfields, providing healthy eating environments, assuring safety, and reinvesting in the neighborhood.
Research about the construction and development of distressed neighborhoods provided insight on how the neighborhood in which one lives affects his or her behaviors, choices, and overall health at various stages of life. Case studies of urban design framework plans, sustainable neighborhoods, and active living guidelines provided insight on how to create a healthy neighborhood. Finally, research on sustainable community design and revitalization methods was inter-related with principles of healthy environments to guide the design principles for the United Northwest Area Neighborhood.