Sustainable Cities Design Academy
Washington, DC | May 21-23, 2014

The Sustainable Cities Design Academy, a program of the Center for Design & the City at the American Architectural Foundation, convened May 21-23, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Over the course of three days, city leaders, developers, and design professionals representing Brownsville, Texas; Hartford, Connecticut; Kalispell, Montana; and Prices Fork Village, Virginia collaborated with internationally recognized sustainable design experts to maximize the potential for sustainability for the following in-process public-private partnership projects:

SCDA 12 Brownsville Cemetery Resaca

Cemetery Resaca Restoration – Brownsville, Texas: After 20 years of planning, the City of Brownsville, Texas and the Brownsville Public Utilities Board (PUB) have undertaken a major public utilities challenge by implementing a city-wide dredging program for 30 resacas, remnant surface water features of old distributaries of the Rio Grande River. The resacas had filled with sediment, trash, and many rubber tires due to natural and manmade activities that compromised the otherwise incredibly ecologically rich environments. The City and PUB committed to clean up these historic channels and redesign the adjacent public space with recreational and cultural amenities for the Brownsville community. The plan for Cemetery Resaca will help to inform open space planning around the remaining 29 resacas as well as build on the City’s Comprehensive Plan objectives.

Brownsville Project Team Members:

Ramiro Gonzalez: Interim Planning Director, City of Brownsville

Tim Swanson: Urban Strategist, CannonDesign

Eric Zachrison: Vice President, CannonDesign

SCDA Design Experts:

Mathew Arnn, ASLA: Chief Landscape Architect, U.S. Forest Service

Delores Root: Program Director, Center for Creative Solutions

Roger Frechette, PE, LEEP AP: Managing Principal, Interface Engineering


hartford swift factory - site concept 1

Swift Factory Community Hub Development – Hartford, Connecticut: The Swift Factory Community Development project is an initiative of Community Solutions located in northeast Hartford. This historic abandoned metallurgy factory is located on a 2.6 acre brownfield site and its planned rehabilitation will better serve the neighborhood adjacent, having the potential to become the hub of “Healthy Northeast” initiative activities such as community building, healthcare education, employment training and placement, food production, and cultural connections. Community Solutions has partnered with the City of Hartford’s Development Services division, the State of Connecticut’s Department of Community and Economic Development as well as several critical nonprofit partners, such as Capital Workforce Partners to realize this vision.

Hartford Project Team Members:

Thomas Deller, AICP: Director, Development Services, City of Hartford

JaCinta “JC” Frazier: Architectural Technical Support, State of Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development Office of Financial Review & Special Projects

Gina Muslim: Director, Hartford Community Partnerships, Community Solutions

Sweta Patel: Senior Project Manager, Community Solutions

Thomas Phillips: President & CEO, Capital Workforce Partners

SCDA Design Experts:

Brian Cornell, RLA, ASLA, BCSLA, LEED AP BD+C: Associate Vice President, RTKL

Kelley Kahn: Special Projects Director, City of Oakland, CA

Amy Bonitz Palmer: Principal, Bonitz Palmer LLC


kalispell fecda rail park location-cap

Kalispell Core Area Redevelopment Plan – Kalispell, Montana: Located just 40 miles west of Glacier National Park, Kalispell is the seat of Flathead County and a regional commercial and industrial hub. The City of Kalispell and Flathead County have proposed the realignment of a rail spur that currently severs the historic downtown including the northern industrial tract to the north and the Main Street corridor to the south. By realigning this track area, better connections throughout the downtown may be established and new opportunities may be created for the development of infill construction allowing for a more walkable and sustainably designed community. Local business partners such as the Kalispell Mall Center and CTA Architects Engineers support this redevelopment vision and this team has worked with other local businesses and landowners to realize a plan that will inform the execution of this vision.

Kalispell Project Team Members:

David Koel: Associate Principal of Design, CTA Architects Engineers

Tom Jentz, AICP: Planning Director, City of Kalispell

Kim Morisaki: Business Development Specialist, Flathead County Economic Development Authority

Eric Peterson: Manager, Goodale & Barbieri Company / Kalispell Center Mall

SCDA Design Experts:

Robyn Eason, AICP, LEED AP ND, BD+C: Team Lead, Urban Planning, Green Building Certification Institute

Scot Hein: Campus Urban Designer , University of British Columbia

Kennedy Smith: Partner, The CLUE Group



blacksblurg_prices fork

Prices Fork Adaptive Reuse Project for Lifespan Housing – Prices Fork Village, Virginia: The community of Prices Fork Village in Montgomery County, Virginia has a unique opportunity to adaptively reuse and retrofit a decommissioned public school complex that could provide for inter-generational, energy efficient living and commercial space for local food businesses. Complimenting a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Partnership-funded three-year sustainability planning process, the New River Valley HOME Consortium has joined forces with Taylor Hollow Construction, Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley, and the New River Valley Livability Initiative to develop this concept in an ever sprawling area just east of the Town of Blacksburg, Virginia.

Prices Fork Village Members:

Carol Davis: Sustainability Manager, Town of Blacksburg

Joe Fortier: Owner, Taylor Hollow Construction

Shelley Fortier: Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley

Elisabeth Willis: Housing & Community Developer Project Manager, New River Valley HOME Consortium

SCDA Design Experts:

Christina Grace: Principal and Food Systems Consultant, New Territories

James Vick, AIA: Principal, SWA Group

Elaine Gallagher-Adams, AIA, LEED AP: Professor of Building Arts and Sustainability, Savannah College of Art and Design


The Sustainable Cities Design Academy was established in partnership with United Technologies Corp. (UTC) in 2009. AAF thanks UTC for contributing as a presenting sponsor of this program as well as Interface Engineering and RTKL as contributing as Resource Team Sponsors for this charrette.

Featured image of  SCDA 12 Participants at the Post-Charrette Reception. 

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Posted in: Center for Design & the City, Print, Sustainable Cities Design Academy
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