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American Architectural Foundation to Convene National Urban Ecosystems Forum in Oklahoma City



WASHINGTON D.C. (September 12, 2017) — The American Architectural Foundation (AAF) and Kirkpatrick Foundation will convene the National Urban Ecosystems Forum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on September 28 and 29, 2017. During this two-day forum, multi-disciplinary thought leaders from Oklahoma City and around the United States will uplift and share urban development projects that successfully address the opportunities and ongoing challenges for the coexistence of nature and the city.

Forum participants will discuss how best to approach this holistic work amid financial constraints and environmental changes as well as what tenets designers, developers, and local leaders must uphold to restore and maintain healthy and beautiful cities for all species. In addition, Forum participants will tour some of Oklahoma City’s most notable open space developments to learn about public-private partnerships that have proved successful for the city, such as Scissortail Park, a 70-acre urban oasis currently under construction in downtown Oklahoma City, and Myriad Botanical Gardens, a 17-acre botanical garden and interactive urban park in downtown Oklahoma City.

As U.S. cities experience increasing instances of dramatic climate-related changes and population pressures, city leaders need holistic and multi-disciplinary strategies to maintain healthy urban ecosystems for all species. This is no easy task, and how cities develop context-sensitive solutions to restore, preserve, and grow their built and natural environments is challenging and time sensitive.

Kirkpatrick Foundation executive director Louisa McCune says, “At the National Urban Ecosystems Forum, we hope to highlight transformative and durable public-private partnership projects that improve quality of life in cities—for people, animals, and the natural environment. These projects and the professionals who steward their success have created places that engender the public’s affinity and education about the importance of sustainable development.”

For more than 15 years, the American Architectural Foundation has been committed to empowering leaders to transform their communities with design. By joining with the Kirkpatrick Foundation, an organization that provides transformative support and funding for visionary endeavors in arts, culture, education, animal wellbeing, environmental conservation, and historic preservation in Oklahoma City and the region, AAF looks forward to engage leaders further to plan and development better models nature and the city to coexist. AAF will publish a report summarizing the convening in October 2017.

“AAF is thrilled to be partnering with the Kirkpatrick Foundation to look more deeply into the elements that define the Urban Ecosystem and to identify strategies and knowledge that can help civic leaders more effectively address the full spectrum of decisions that impact the quality of life in cities,” says Ron Bogle, president & CEO, American Architectural Foundation. “We are proud to showcase Oklahoma City through this effort.”

Confirmed forum participants include:

Join the conversation on urban ecology on September 28th and 29th via Twitter [@kirkpatrickfdn and @AAFDesign] with the hashtag #urbanecoforum.

Read the official press release.

Photo: Crystal Bridge Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City, OK. Image courtesy Myriad Botanical Gardens. 

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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.