Urban Public-Private Projects Gather for Sustainable Design Charrette in Nation’s Capital

Urban Public-Private Projects Gather for Sustainable Design Charrette in Nation’s Capital
Sustainable Cities Design Academy assisted national projects to reinvigorate urban communities in Atlanta, Detroit, Greenwood, MS, and Morristown, NJ. SCDA—a program of the Center for Design & the City—was established in 2009 by the American Architectural Foundation in partnership with United Technologies Corporation (UTC), a global corporation with a long history of pioneering innovation in building technology and international leadership in sustainable design.  

Building upon the successes of more than 35 previous urban and community development engagements, the Sustainable Cities Design Academy (SCDA) convened its eleventh national session September 11–13, 2013 in Washington, DC. City leaders, developers, and design professionals representing Atlanta, Detroit, Greenwood, and Morristown projects joined national sustainable design experts for an intensive, two-and-a-half-day design workshop. Project teams are selected from a pool of compelling applicants to attend SCDA, which provides the resources, education, and best practice support needed to make environmentally responsible policy and design decisions. SCDA is helping participants formulate action plans for their projects while providing the design leadership training and technical assistance needed to address the specific design challenges that they face in their cities. Participants return home with the momentum and knowledge necessary to develop more innovative, energy-efficient, and livable communities.

“Through our programs, the American Architectural Foundation works directly with local leaders in more than 70 cities each year,” said Ron Bogle, AAF President and CEO. “The selected city projects in Atlanta, Detroit, Greenwood, and Morristown each have unique needs. Provided with opportunities to work face-to-face with some of the top practitioners of sustainable design in the nation, these city visionaries can and will create a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable urban development.”

A view of the northern gateway to the Fulton Industrial Boulevard Corridor. Image courtesy of The Boulevard Commercial Industrial District.

Atlanta, Georgia
The Fulton Industrial Boulevard Corridor is the largest industrial corridor east of the Mississippi River and has been a major economic development catalyst for metro Atlanta. Established in the early 1960s, the corridor has over 90 million square feet of industrial space and over 30,000 employed in corridor businesses. In recent decades, the corridor has struggled to keep pace with other regional industrial centers and has suffered from crime, proliferation of motels, prostitution, adult entertainment outlets, and drug-trafficking occurring within and adjacent to the corridor’s bounds. Additionally, the corridor has the highest vacancy rates of all industrial sub market s in Atlanta and the lowest rental rates. Though the corridor has struggled with these challenges, strong leadership from the remaining business community and Fulton County have helped to encourage interest again in this strategically located corridor. In 2010, the Fulton Commercial Industrial District (CID) was formed to enhance the long-term economic interests and viability of the corridor as a thriving industrial area by engaging all property and business owners and coordinating public safety, transportation, and landscape improvement activities with the City of Atlanta and Fulton County. With such positive momentum, the CID and the county worked with the SCDA resource team to identify redevelopment activities that would help to transform the corridor into a sustainable, green, clean, safe, and thriving area.


Detroit, Michigan
The Bloody Run Creek Greenway Redevelopment Project is a creek daylighting and redevelopment project of a 3,500-acre site that aims to address critical stormwater management needs,  spur further development, and create a recreational amenity for the surrounding neighborhoods. The Bloody Run Creek Area encompasses built and natural lands on the near east side of Detroit and includes one of the U.S.’s largest food markets—Eastern Market. During SCDA, the team investigated moving toward implementation of a 30-acre Demonstration Project to illustrate the overall objectives and benefits of the projects and dig deeper into the design, focusing on the plan’s sustainable elements and facilitate a more thorough consideration of programmatic and physical constraints. Additionally, the team identified best practices in partnership development between private sector and municipal leaders as well as the community.

Aerial rendering for the Bloody Run Creek Coalition 30-acre Demonstration Project, Phase 1 of the Master Plan proposed for this Detroit project. Image courtesy of Detroit Collaborative Design Center and Bloody Run Creek Coalition.

Greenwood, Mississippi
The Greenwood, Mississippi Comprehensive Sustainable City plan sought to ignite holistic thinking around transit, infrastructure, and economic development as well as serve as a model for other Delta and southeast communities. The City of Greenwood, the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation, Main Street Greenwood, and private local businesses have organized to revitalize the downtown central business district. Revitalization efforts include new signage; landscape and facade beautification; the remediation of the Yazoo River and creation of a trail system adjacent to it; support for the rehabilitation and creation of new affordable housing; and to attract and support small and mid-size industry.

A rendering of Main Street Greenwood with proposed pedestrian path and lighting improvements. Image courtesy of Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation.

During the last decade, The City of Greenwood, the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation, Main Street Greenwood, and private local businesses have organized to revitalize the downtown central business district by introducing new signage, pursuing the beautification of landscapes and facades, remediating the Yazoo River and creating a trail system adjacent to it, supporting the rehabilitation and creation of new affordable housing, and attracting and support ing small and mid-size industry. Though these efforts have been successful, the team is ready to leverage gains from these initiatives and worked with the SCDA resource team to further prioritize redevelopment activities that engage residents and encourage future growth and implementation.

Morristown, New Jersey
Morristown is witnessing unprecedented growth and attention, as both the county seat for Morris County and a regional transit hub just northwest of New York City. Surrounded by expansive open space and natural resources, the town has many existing assets to incorporate and apply as it deals with new challenges of equity and affordability, economic development, energy consumption, and environmental responsibility. At SCDA, the Morristown team focused on redevelopment areas directly adjacent to the Morristown train station—the historic landscaped gateway and parking area that is slated for mixed-use development. The team’s participation in SCDA provided them with the opportunity to vet and to construct a robust urban design and sustainable development project through a creative process with experts.

Plan view of the Morristown Train Station area that highlights the redevelopment site and important connectors to the site. Image courtesy of Jonathan Rose Companies and Morristown Planning Division.

Atlanta Project Team Members:
Randy Beck, Director
Fulton County Planning & Community Services Department
Michelle Macauley, Assistant Director
Fulton County Planning & Community Services Department
Gil Prado, AICP, Executive Director
Fulton Industrial Community Improvement District (CID)
Kent Walker, Vice President
Selig Enterprises, Inc.
Design Experts:
Anne Haynes, AIA, LEED AP, Sloan Fellows ‘13
MIT Sloan School of Management
Tom Dalfo, Senior Vice President, Real Estate Services
Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC)
Joanne Shelly, RLA, AICP, LEED BD+C
Bradley Site Design, Inc.

Detroit Project Team Members:
Chris Dorle
Detroit Future City
Jela Ellefson, Grants & Special Projects Coordinator
Eastern Market Corporation
Ceara O’Leary, Project Manager & Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow 2012-2014
Detroit Collaborative Design Center
Virginia Stanard, Project Director & Director of Urban Design
Detroit Collaborative Design Center
Ernie Zachary, Founder & Vice President
Zachary and Associates
Design Experts:
William Cesanek, AICP, Vice President
CDM Smith
Stuart Miner, President and Chief Operating Officer
EnviroFinance Group
Clark Wilson, Senior Urban Designer
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Sustainable Communities

Greenwood, MS Project Team Members:
Angela Curry, Executive Director
Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation
Emily Roush Elliott, Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow 2013-2015
Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation
Thomas Gregory, Chief Administrative Officer
The City of Greenwood
Dale Riser, Principal Architect
Beard + Riser Architects
Brantley Snipes, Executive Director
Main Street Greenwood
Design Experts:
Katherine Darnstadt, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Principal
Latent Design
Heather Deutsch, Bicycle Program Specialist/Trail Planner
District Department of Transportation
Cary Tyson, Deputy Director
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

Morristown, NJ Project Team Members:
Phil Abramson, Senior Planner
Morristown Planning Division/Jonathan Rose Companies
Vivian Baker, Assistant Director, Transit Friendly Land Use and Development
NJ Transit
The Honorable Tim Dougherty, Mayor of Morristown, New Jersey
The Town of Morristown
Dean Marchetto, AIA, PP, CNU, Founding Principal
Marchetto Higgins Stieve Architects
Design Experts:
Dominique Hawkins, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Founding Principal
Preservation Design Partnership, LLC
Dave Lustberg, LLA, LEED AP, Founder
Arterial, LLC
Alexandra Zetlin, President
Zetlin Strategic Communications, Inc.

Featured image courtesy of Jonathan Rose Companies and Morristown Planning Division.

About the Center for Design & the City
The Center for Design & the City at the American Architectural Foundation is an international platform for the development and implementation of innovative urban forms that promote economic, social, cultural and environmental vibrancy. Its efforts coalesce at the intersection of design, public policy and technology.

About United Technologies Corp. (UTC)
United Technologies Corp. is a diversified company that provides a broad range of high-technology products and services to the global aerospace and building systems industries. Its commercial businesses are Otis elevators and escalators and UTC Climate, Controls & Security, which includes Carrier heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems; building controls and automation from brands such as Automated Logic and Lenel; as well as fire and security solutions from brands such as Kidde and Chubb. Its aerospace businesses are Sikorsky helicopters and support; Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines; and UTC Aerospace Systems advanced aerospace and defense products. More information is available at

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