TOD Design Workshops

Optional review by TOD experts

The Council sponsors optional design workshops that offer input from a panel of experts aimed at improving the transit orientation of TOD projects before the full application is submitted. These workshops are designed to help participants learn more about how TOD grants can provide funding for infrastructure, site assembly, placemaking and environmental cleanup to supper higher-density development projects along the region's transitways. The design workshops allow applicants to hear additional feedback from professionals with TOD experience to ensure that their project's density, orientation, circulation, location and other design elements are appropriate for the station area and to further promote the use of transit. 

Key goals

The key goal of the workshops is to assist applicants in submitting projects that are truly transit oriented, as opposed to transit-adjacent.

Transit-adjacent developments are located near a transit station but may have:
  • low densities
  • a suburban street pattern
  • poor pedestrian access
  • single uses
  • auto-oriented uses 
Projects such as these - while they may be good projects - are not the ones that the Livable Communities TOD grant program is designed to assist. By contrast, transit-oriented developments are:
  • higher density
  • mixed-use
  • within easy walking distance to stations
  • include opportunities for shopping, recreation and employment


Experts gather with participants at the table

The design workshops are staffed by a group of landscape architects, planners, architects and urban designers who specialize in transit-oriented development. These professionals – many of whom have worked on projects funded with Livable Communities grants – volunteered their time and expertise because they believe in the value of supporting high quality projects that demonstrate new and innovative ways to build TOD in the region.

Participants welcome the feedback

The informal, accessible format of the workshops was designed to encourage creativity, and participants seem to agree. “I had two projects that went through the design workshop,” said Eduardo Barrera, a project manager with the City of St. Paul. “The feedback provided by the experts was incredibly valuable. “Their critique and suggestions to the projects gave us the opportunity to look at the projects in a way in which they could yet be improved, and achieve the goals of a well-designed TOD development. I thank the Metropolitan Council for the opportunity to use this design workshop.”