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

The American Architectural Foundation has been dedicated to advancing the role of architecture and design in American society since its founding in 1943 by the American Institute of Architects.

In its 75 years in existence the Foundation’s work has taken many forms — from educational programming and exhibitions in its early years to large-scale design initiatives and programs —all of which serve to create a rich legacy.

As the managing partner of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design for twenty years, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Conference of Mayors, the Foundation helped move the needle on design and cities. And, through its other signature programs like Save America’s Treasures in partnership with National Parks Service, the Sustainable Cities Design Academy, and Design for Learning, the Foundation has provided critical design leadership training and technical assistance to hundreds of elected officials, education leaders, business leaders, and other key decision makers in the design process.

In recent years, cities and civic leaders have embraced design and design thinking in a way that could not have been imagined when the Foundation begin its work back in 1943 — and AAF’s role in this transformation is a source of great pride for the Foundation. With this increased interest in the role of design in shaping our cities came a proliferation of new organizations to support and facilitate this cultural shift. These advances in the role of design in American society and changes in the nonprofit design sector, coupled with the departure of the organization’s longest-serving CEO, prompted the Foundation’s Board to embark on an intensive and lengthy process to examine the ongoing role and work of the Foundation.

As the Board of Regents reflected on the positive changes of the cultural value of design, the accomplishments of the Foundation, and how the legacy of the Foundation’s work is being carried out by its former staff in new roles and organizations across the country, they reached the conclusion that the American Architectural Foundation had accomplished what it set out to do. As a result, the Foundation began to complete its remaining programs and wind down its operations in the Summer of 2018 and the organization’s endowments have been distributed to allied organizations. The Foundation’s research and reports will remain available on its website as a resource to the field.

The Foundation’s work would not have been possible without the incredible talents of its many staff over the decades, the generous support of its funders, and the tireless dedication of its civic & design partners across the country. The Board remains deeply proud of the significant contributions Foundation has made in its 75-year history and would like to acknowledge that this would not have been possible without the efforts, dedication, and support from so many of you.