Mayors’ Institue on City Design Northeast Conference

07 October 2009 – 09 October 2009
Northeastern University


Northeastern University School of Architecture
National Endowment for the Arts
American Architecture Foundation

As a school focused on bringing the critical thinking and innovation of the academy to the practical problems of the contemporary city, The School of Architecture at Northeastern University was especially pleased to host the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) Northeast Conference between the 7th and 9th of October. The MICD is a collaboration between the national Endowment for the Arts, The American Architecture Foundation, and the United States Conference of Mayors.

Created to engage the essential quality of design in the transformation of our nation’s cities, the goal of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design conferences is to foster high quality urban thinking and thoughtful development in our nation’s rapidly changing urban environments through an in-depth set of discussions between mayors and designers. By bringing together multi-disciplinary design experts and a selected group of mayors to focus directly on specific and critical urban design challenges in their cities, the MICD enables a sophisticated understanding of urban design on the part of the mayors and an increased understanding of the practical challenges facing the leaders of our cities on the part of the design community.

During the MICD Northeast Conference, the NEU School of Architecture welcomed the mayors of Cranston, RI, Norwalk, CT, Lewiston, ME, Rutland, VT, Hempstead, NY, Brockton, MA, and Salem, MA, for a productive two and a half day session. Joining the mayors, the design resource panel included transportation specialists, urban designers and developers, and a group of academics focused on the critical issues at large in our contemporary cities. The mayors engaged the design experts on issues including the re-invention of languishing downtowns, waterfront development opportunities, and essential transportation strategies for their cities by presenting the resource panel with specific sets of issues in case study format. Members of the resource panel also presented to the group, illustrating the roles of their work in city design through examples of their own practices and research.

Over the course of the MICD Northeast Conference, the dialog between mayors and experts revealed untapped opportunities for directed development and strategic planning for the future of the mayors’ cities. The interactive process resulted in a set of clear action plans for each mayor to take back to his or her community for implementation with an eye toward both the short and long term consequences of thoughtful urban design.

Many of the challenges presented were not singular to one mayor, but shared among the group as common issues at play in our 21st century cities. As the consequences of short term urban thinking and uninhibited growth become increasingly clear, the MICD stands as a meaningful step toward thoughtful design of future urban spaces. The Northeastern University School of Architecture looks forward to collaborating with the mayors in the future on regionally specific projects and research and hopes to continue work with the MICD to ensure a well designed and intelligent urban future.

To learn more about the MICD mission and organization:

The session brought the following mayors:

Richard A. Moccia, Norwalk, CT
Paul A. Dyster, Niagara Falls, NY
Allan W. Fung, Cranston, RI
Christopher C. Louras, Rutland, VT
James E. Harrington, Brockton, MA
Laurent F. Gilbert, Lewiston, ME
Donnalee Lozeau, Nashua, NH
Wayne J. Hall, Sr., Village of Hempstead, NY

The team of design professionals included:

Robert Culver, CEO, Mass Development
Judith de Jong, University of Illinois, Chicago
Arthur Jemison, GLC Development
Tim Love, Northeastern University
Alan Plattus, Yale University
Emily Talen, Arizona State University
George Thrush, Northeastern University
Perry Yang, Georgia Institute of Technology