21CD twenty-first century development


Launched in 2018, 21st Century Development is a model for the creation of regenerative communities—communities that strive to provide a healthy environment for all people and living systems now and in a dynamic future.

The ideal development, as defined for the 21st century, is resilient and regenerative. It is focused on how materials and resources are utilized and replenished, and how people’s lives are made better in terms of health, beauty, and equity.

What is development? Development is the design and construction of communities with a mixture of uses—residential, commercial, and cultural—on land that currently uninhabited. It can also include the re-creation of urban, suburban and rural communities through renovation and new construction.

The Issue

Our communities are long overdue for a redesign.

According to the Living Future Institute, we’re living among 7.4 billion people and counting, human-caused climate change is happening now, and every major ecological system is in decline.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

By promoting development that enhances people’s lives and continuously operates on renewable sources of materials, water, energy, and other materials, we can create resilient, regenerative, 21st Century communities.

Through education, outreach, and advocacy, the 21st Century Development program challenges and inspires professionals, policymakers, and community members to reimagine the practice of development through the implementation of good, better, living and regenerative strategies.

Program Goals

21st Century Development aims to provide a healthy environment for all people and living systems now and in a dynamic future. Professionals from architecture, engineering, and other fields are partnering with public officials, private sector, and nonprofit leaders to bring 21CD concepts to life around the world.

  • Identify a path to a regenerative development future, addressing building challenges unique to the climate, topography, landscape and culture.
  • Encourage, assist, and inspire the design community, policymakers, and community development leaders to implement incremental steps between standard and regenerative levels, effecting positive change for all living systems.
  • Aid developers and their financial partners in seeing the value of implementing 21st Century Development strategies.
  • Identify economic and policy barriers to regenerative levels of development, and advocate for the alignment of civic policies with 21st Century Development principles.
  • Inspire other regions to develop standards of development in their communities.

Any project or practice can engage with 21st Century Development principles, identifying and implementing strategies that can lead to higher levels of performance.

See the Development Matrix »

Program Partners

21st Century Development is a partnership of AIA Minnesota, the Center for Sustainable Building Research, and the McKnight Foundation.


American Institute of Architects (AIA) Minnesota
The American Institute of Architects Minnesota is the professional association for architects in the state of Minnesota. As a state component of AIA National, with three local chapters, AIA Minnesota has nearly 2,300 members and a staff of ten professionals. aia-mn.org

Center for Sustainable Building Research
The Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota works to transform the built environment in ways that provide for the ecological, economic, and social needs of of the present without compromising those of the future. csbr.umn.edu

Colloqate Design

Colloqate Design is a multidisciplinary nonprofit design justice practice focused on expanding community access to, and building power through, the design of social, civic, and cultural spaces. Our mission is to intentionally organize, advocate, and design spaces of racial, social, and cultural equity.

McKnight Foundation

The McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. mcknight.org