Mayors, Development Experts Share Ideas on City Design Challenges at University of Virginia Session
The Mayors’ Institute on
City Design (MICD) hosted it’s twenty-sixth national session October
6-8, at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Mayors representing
eight U.S. cities presented design issues they are currently facing to a
team of internationally renowned design and development experts. Following
each presentation, resource team members and mayors shared ideas,
precedents and improvement strategies.
Participating mayors included:
Sue Bauman, Madison; Martin Barnes, Paterson, (NJ); David Hollister,
Lansing, MI; Timothy Kaine, Richmond, (VA); Ronald Loveridge, Riverside,
(CA); Hal Daub, Omaha; Dave Armstrong, Louisville; and Howard Peak, San
Members of the resource team
also made presentations regarding the value of design in a city’s
development efforts. Design professionals who participated included:
planner Maxine Griffith, Regional Plan Association; Charles Buki,
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp.; architect John Kaliski, AIJK Inc.;
developer Sedgwick Mead; architect/landscape architect Gary Okerlund,
University of Virginia; architect Michaele Pride-Wells, AIA, University of
Kentucky; Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Hon. AIA. Mayor of the City of Charleston
and MICD Co-founder; architect Stanley Saitowitz, Stanley Saitowitz &
Associates; landscape architect Ken Smith; and architect Karen Van Lengen,
University of Virginia.
The most critical element of
the institute’s success is the dialogue between the mayors and resource
team and the mutual understanding of each others’ role in the process of
city design that comes out of that dialogue.
An initiative of the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Institute was established in 1986 and is
carried out through a partnership between the NEA, the U.S. Conference of
Mayors and the American Architectural Foundation. The Institute is the
premier forum for the integration of design and politics. The University
of Virginia is considered the spiritual home of the Institute, as it was
designed by one of America’s greatest politicians, Thomas Jefferson. The
campus is commonly regarded as one of America’s most beautiful public
spaces – providing for an optimal setting to bring mayors and designers
together to discuss the revitalization of American cities.
To date, over 425 mayors,
representing all fifty states and Puerto Rico have attended and taken home
valuable advice on how to deal with difficult urban planning and design
issues. While mayors present different design issues from their cities,
many of the challenges are similar. As a result, mayors not only bring
back ideas for a specific project, they return to their cities better
equipped to serve as advocates for good design.
Lansing Mayor David Hollister,
presented the Washington Avenue Corridor. This pedestrian mall is part of
a shopping district and is within a two block radius to a college, a hotel
and a minor league baseball stadium for the Lansing Lugnuts. The resource
team addressed how the city can build on the current activity to spur
development on Washington Avenue. Design elements and development
suggestions were discussed as a way to develop a critical mass both with
retail and residential elements.
The Broadway Corridor in
Louisville, was presented by Mayor David Armstrong. The resource team
offered advice on how this important gateway could be enhanced by the use
of design elements, including streetscape improvements for pedestrian
Mayor Sue Bauman presented
Madison’s West Mifflin Plaza and library connection to the State Street
Mall and the new Overture Project, a $100 million arts district. The
resource team offered thoughts on making this small pedestrian mall area a
more welcoming connection between the Library, the arts district and State
In Omaha, Mayor Hal Daub is
considering an arena and convention center redevelopment area. During his
presentation at the Mayors’ Institute he shared his challenges with the
resource team on an appropriate use for a former Union Pacific property.
Mayor Daub received feedback from the resource team on attracting private
investment to the area and how the city should go about establishing
A Main Street Improvement
Project in Paterson (NJ) focuses on developing vacant upper floors of
retail buildings into market rate apartments. Mayor Martin Barnes
presented the design challenges facing the project and was met with
suggestions from the resource team on how to overcome them. They also
addressed how the City might further revitalize Main Street and the
downtown Paterson area.
The Jackson Ward District in
Richmond (VA) is a historic community with a past stemmed in
African-American history. Mayor Tim Kaine brought his City’s challenge
to the resource team: restore the vitality of Jackson Ward – both the
commercial and residential areas- while maintaining the neighborhoods
historic, architectural and cultural integrity, using the activity
generated by an expanding convention center as a catalyst.
Riverside (CA) Mayor Ronald
Loveridge presented the residential challenges he is currently addressing
in the Arlington community. Members of the resource team offered insights
on successful public/private infill policies and programs that encourage
residential development of vacant and dilapidated properties. Examples of
city/school programs and facilities were also shared as a way to offer
insight on how Riverside could move forward with the Arlington project.
The Salado Creek Greenbelt in
San Antonio is being transformed into a linear park with multiple
purposes. Mayor Howard Peak received feedback during his presentation on
how the corridor might be designed to balance flood control and recreation
with the habitat preservation within the creek system.
The next national session of
the MICD is scheduled for April 26-28, 2000. To nominate a mayor to be
invited to a future session, or for more information call (202) 463-1390
or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.