City Managers’ Design Academy 3: Dallas, TX | May 11-13, 2016

AAF’s third City Managers’ Design Academy (CMDA), held May 11 -13 in Dallas, Texas, convened five city managers with five urban design experts to tackle the managers’ pressing planning and development challenges. Managers Jane Brautigam of Boulder, CO; Mick Berry of Hickory, NC; Troy Schulte of Kansas City, MO; Chris Brady of Mesa, AZ; and Clay Pearson of Pearland, TX discussed project challenges related to institutional and civic building reuse, multi-modal transportation planning, equitable neighborhood reinvestment, and cultural district planning.

Assisting the managers and providing best practices from their vast experience were members of the AAF resource team; Tony Pickett of Urban Land Conservancy; Sujata Srivastava of Strategic Economics; Richard Wilson of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; Cinda Gilliland of SWA Group; and Ken Ray of Toole Design Group.

Group Photo (2)

The two-and-a-half day Academy included an in-depth tour of Dallas’ catalytic urban projects. Led by Mary Suhm, former City Manager of Dallas and Senior Fellow of AAF’s Center for Design & the City, the tour highlighted Dallas’ most complex urban design and development challenges to date, including Klyde Warren Park, the Trinity Groves and the Trinity River planning area, Fair Park, and the Dallas Arts District.


The managers represented U.S. cities with disparate income levels, populations, and geographies. This is an intentional attribute of the Design Academy as to recognize common challenges cities face, identify best practices that may help solve these challenges, and then apply those practices in context sensitive ways for each city represented. A common challenge outlined in this third Design Academy, (and similar to the discussion during the first and second CMDAs), is how to best preserve and maintain a sense of community while cities grow and change. As a result, the managers and resource team members discussed tactics on how to stave gentrification when planning and implementing catalytic projects in their communities; ensuring opportunity for all residents, current and future.


This retreat setting provided the managers an opportunity to take time to reflect and learn from peers that are facing similar challenges in their cities. Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte noted, “My take-away from this experience is that design matters. Sense of place is critical to any public infrastructure investment. These design academies provide managers the luxury to think and get feedback from colleagues and the best design pros in the business.”

This session of City Managers’ Design Academy would not have been possible without the generous support of the Edward W. Rose, III Family Fund of The Dallas Foundation. To learn more about the City Managers’ Design Academy program or next available opportunities for managers and design professionals to participate, contact Program Director Elizabeth Okeke-Von Batten.

Photos courtesy of the American Architectural Foundation.

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Posted in: Center for Design & the City, City Managers' Design Academy, City Managers’ Design Academy, Civic Leaders + Government, Design Leadership, Print

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.