Sustainable Cities Design Academy 14 | June 10 – 12, 2015

AAF’s Center for Design & the City is looking forward to its 14th Sustainable Cities Design Academy, to be held June 10 – 12 in Washington DC. During SCDA, teams from Chicago, IL, Kansas City, MO, New Brunswick, NJ, and Pittsburgh, PA will participate in an interactive and collaborative design charrette. These project teams will collaborate with a team of multi-disciplinary designers from a range of backgrounds to evaluate their projects, learn about relevant practices, and strengthen their capacity-building networks.

SCDA 2015 Application Pic

Team members collaborate during a previous SCDA session.

AAF’s format for all of its design charrettes, including SCDA, prioritizes collaboration and information exchange between project teams and resource teams. Team members will have the opportunity to work directly with the nation’s top architects, environmental designers, landscape architects, planners, real estate developers, industrial economic development specialists, and urban designers. This dedicated space allows them to learn about best practices in urban design, place-making, phased financing, and authentic community engagement practices as they co-create solutions to their projects’ challenges.

Participants will also establish a wider social network of support, learning, and leadership from which to draw when faced with opportunities to design better places.  Recent SCDA alum Tom Phillips, Executive Director of Capital Workforce Partners, said of his experience, “[SCDA] provides a broader perspective on how to better align more strategically ‘bricks and mortar’ with human capital development. I hadn’t realized that design can have a greater impact on community development and be a catalyst for meaningful change.

Chicago’s Englewood Square Corridor


The intersection of 6th and Halsted in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Image courtesy of Wikipedia: MrHarman.

Ernest Brown of Brown & Momen, Monica Chadha of Civic Projects, Glen Fulton of the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, and Michael Newman of SHED 5tudio comprise the Englewood team. The Englewood community has endured low employment and economic growth for many years, and as a result,  its population has dwindled by 11% since 2000. The Englewood Square Corridor plan outlines a long-term solution to revitalize the community, which includes building a Whole Foods Market, a food/retail district, a GECDC business accelerator and incubator, and a mixed-use space.

Kansas City’s Municipal Farms Sustainable Reuse Site 

Area 1 - Blue River Confluence Panoramic

The Brush Creek/ Blue River Confluence is located on a parcel of land at Municipal Farm. Image courtesy of Kansas City, MO.

Andrew Bracker and Gerald Williams of the City of Kansas City, MO, Scott Schulte of the Heartland Conservation Alliance, and John Gordon Jr. of Boys Grow comprise the Kansas City team.  The Municipal Farms Sustainable Reuse Site team aims to transform Municipal Farm, a 440-acre site owned by the city, into 21st century sustainable, urban agricultural and multi-use campus. The Sustainable Reuse Plan for Municipal Farm includes walking and recreation trails that connect residents to nearby neighborhoods, links to a planned regional commuter rail line and a rails-to-trails system, renewable energy projects, development of a city-owned green infrastructure maintenance and training facility, and creation of outdoor learning spaces.

New Brunswick’s Rail/Arts/River Project

The Raritan River is an integral component of New Brunswick's Rail>Arts>River project.

The Raritan River is an integral component of New Brunswick’s Rail/Arts/River project. Image courtesy of AAF.

New Brunswick’s team, composed of Heather Fenyk of the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Dan Swern and John Keller of coLAB Arts, and Tobiah Horton of Rutgers University will explore their Rail/Arts/River project. The Rail/Arts/River project intends to use visual art and sustainable design as a way to connect the city’s riverfront and railway transit station. Key to the project is several different zones connecting the New Brunswick train station, Raritan River, Lord Stirling Elementary School, and the central business corridor. The team plans for community members to explore these zones, which span two miles, by foot.

Pittsburgh’s Strip District Riverfront Park Project

Pittsburgh Strip District

The Pittsburgh team proposes a 20-block riverfront park in the Strip District along the Allegheny River. Image courtesy of Wikipedia: phillipq23.

The Pittsburgh Strip District team, composed of Riverlife’s Addy Smith-Reiman, Oxford Development Company’s Michael Bernard, Friends of the Riverfront’s Jeff McCauley, Wigle Whiskey’s Eric Meyer, and Katherine Camp of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, propose a new 20-block riverfront park concept for the Allegheny Riverfront in Pittsburgh’s Strip District neighborhood. Their vision for the park is to provide the Pittsburgh community with much-needed green space for recreation and relaxation. Upon completion, the park will be equipped with storm water management solutions, riverbank stabilization, restored habitat/riparian ecology, and a continuous bike/pedestrian pathway to connect residents to downtown Pittsburgh.

Follow the conversation on our social media channels during the session with the hashtag #SCDA14. To learn more about the upcoming session or to learn more information on the Sustainable Cities Design Academy, contact Center for Design and the City Director Elizabeth Okeke-Von Batten at

Featured image courtesy of the Pittsburgh project team.

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Posted in: Center for Design & the City, Community Engagement, Creative Placemaking, Partnerships, Print, Sustainability, 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.