Sustainable Cities Design Academy 15 | August 5 – 7, 2015

AAF’s Center for Design & the City is looking forward to its 15th Sustainable Cities Design Academy, to be held August 5 – 7 in Washington DC. During SCDA, teams from Las Vegas, NV; Milwaukee, WI; Pittsburgh, PA; and Wasco, CA will participate in a 2.5 day-long 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.

AAF’s charrette format prioritizes collaboration and information exchange between project teams and resource teams. During the charrettes, team members will collaborate with a wide range of professional experts, including architects, urban designers, and developers, to co-create solutions to their projects’ challenges. The private charrette format allows them to focus singularly on the project and learn about best practices in urban design, place-making, phased financing, and authentic community engagement practices.

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.  SCDA 14 alum Glen Fulton, Executive Director of the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, said of his experience at SCDA, “This was spiritually uplifting for me. I can bring new hope back to our community.”

Las Vegas Cultural Corridor Connector

area II NEC looking southeast

The Las Vegas teams plans to transform this swath of the U-95 corridor into a vibrant, arts-rich public space.

The Las Vegas team, composed of Michael Howe, Courtney Mooney, Gina Venglass, and Dianne Cripe of the City of Las Vegas and Rae Laethrop of Outside Las Vegas Foundation, plans to re-conceptualize a quarter-mile corridor of US-95 as a shaded public art trail way. This Las Vegas Cultural Corridor Connector project aims to connect nearby cultural facilities to the downtown core and Mob Museum area. The proposed site, which sits on 6.45 acres, is currently being utilized as surface parking. At SCDA, the Las Vegas team will connect with resource team members  to focus more specifically on pedestrian connectivity and public place-making.

Milwaukee’s Harbor District Sustainable Development Plan


The Milwaukee waterfront holds the potential to brings together residential, commercial, and recreational uses, while preserving the existing natural habitats and industrial uses.

Milwaukee’s team is made up of Dan Adams from Harbor District, Inc.; Sam Leichtling from the City of Milwaukee’s Department of City Development; Jim Wasley from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee’s Institute for Ecological Design; David Misky from the City of Milwaukee’s Redevelopment Authority; and Nathan Guequierre from AECOM. The Harbor District Sustainable Development project aims to create a comprehensive development plan for the 1,000 acre Harbor District, located just south of downtown Milwaukee, where the Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic, and Menomonee rivers meet. Currently, the Harbor District is facing development pressure as surrounding neighborhoods like Walker’s Point—the fastest-growing neighborhood in the city—begin to reach capacity. The site spans 100 acres of large brownfield parcels, the new University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences building, and the last 6 acres of wetland on the Milwaukee river.

Pittsburgh’s Smallman Street Produce Terminal


Pittsburgh’s Produce Terminal is at the epicenter of the city’s Strip District.

The Pittsburgh team is composed of Susheela Nemani-Stanger and Marty Kaminski from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Ray Gastill from the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning, and Pamela Austin from McCafferty Interests. The Pittsburgh Smallman Street Produce Terminal project team is developing a plan for the approximately 125,478 square foot Smallman Street Produce Terminal and its surrounding area, which is located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District along Smallman Street, between 16th and 21st Streets. To date, none of the proposed plans for the building have addressed all of the sites issues and challenges. At SCDA, the Pittsburgh team hopes to gain clarity from the fresh perspectives of other attendees and from the resource team’s technical expertise during the charrette. Specifically, they hope to determine the best use(s) for the structure, and determine how to best implement place-making strategies that improve access to the nearby riverfront.

Wasco Farmworker Housing


A recent comparable affordable housing project by Wasco Affordable Housing.

Suzanne Hague of the California Strategic Growth Council, Pat Newman of Wasco Affordable Housing, and Roger Mobley and J. Paul Paris of the City of Wasco comprise the Wasco project team. The Wasco Farmworker Housing project plans to relocate almost 200 families currently residing in disconnected, industrially-zoned areas to a new, sustainably-designed public housing development. Their project aims to serve as a beacon of best practices in farmworker housing in the 21st century.

Follow the conversation on our social media channels during the session with the hashtag #SCDA15. 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 McCafferty Interests.

Share | Print
Posted in: Affordable Housing, Center for Design & the City, Community Engagement, Creative Placemaking, 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.