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It’s not just traditional infrastructure that requires investment

A national survey finds strong support for essential community buildings.

November 29, 2016 |

Pixabay Public Domain

A new survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) finds that a large majority of Americans (83%) consider public buildings—schools, libraries, community centers, and parks—part of their community’s infrastructure. And, 94% of those surveyed say that having well maintained public buildings are important to the future of their community.

In a key finding for policy makers, 83% of survey respondents agreed that investment in these public buildings is just as important as investment in roads and bridges. The survey also found that seven in 10 Americans want their public buildings renovated, and almost three-quarters of Americans consider public schools in good condition a “must have” in the communities in which they live.

These are some of the major findings of the first-ever AIA survey of American attitudes toward essential community buildings. The survey results, conducted by The Harris Poll, were made public today at the AIA Build America Summit.


Major survey findings:

  • More than three in four Americans (78%) think their local government should take some financial responsibility for supporting the investment in their public buildings. Just under two-thirds (61%) think state government should take some financial responsibility. A majority (53%) think that community members should support it, and almost half (46%) believe private entities should also invest.
  •  A majority of Americans believe that the condition of community buildings can lead to notable benefits, particularly higher property values (60%) and improved quality of education (62%).
  • 69% of Americans believe schools are one of the most important buildings to receive a consistent level of public funding.
  • On average, Americans feel about one third (34%) of public funds budgeted for community features should be allocated to public buildings and/or spaces. Of the remaining, they would allocate 37% to transportation and 29% to public housing.
  • Significant gender differences exist in attitudes toward public buildings and spaces. For example, women are more inclined than men (44% to 34%) to consider public housing options a “must have.” Conversely, older men (44%) place the most emphasis on funding transportation.
  • Almost half those surveyed (48%) believe public housing (defined as a combination of senior and affordable housing) is one of the most important community features to receive a consistent level of public funding.


“It is clear from the survey that Americans consider investment in community buildings and spaces a priority,” said AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Not only do they believe that that investment would lead to improvements in property value, education, and public safety, but also serve to attract new businesses and enhance their overall quality of life.”

A copy of the survey results can be found here

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