Throughout the world, cities are working to reinvigorate their waterfronts. A common challenge is how to revitalize places where the river, lake or sea has been cut off from the rest of town by wide roadways or hulking industrial facilities.

Unfortunately, in a number of cities these past problems are being repeated today by a new kind of waterfront development devoted to a single use—only this time it’s upscale housing instead of factories, warehouses or freeways. When waterfront revitalization is driven by developers or designers with little attention paid to the community’s vision, the final results end up pleasing no one. The promise of both community enrichment and economic development is sadly lost.

To avoid duplicating these mistakes, we offer two handy guides:

1. Qualities of Great Waterfront Destinations

2. 9 Steps to Creating a Great Waterfront

These are not hard and fast laws, but rules of thumb drawn from 34 years of experience working to improve waterfronts across the world. These ideas–which emphasize an asset and community-driven approach based on interdisciplinary collaboration–offer a framework for any project that seeks to create vibrant waterfront spaces, and, by extension, vibrant cities.