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:
- Matt Arnn, Chief Landscape Architect, U.S. Forest Service , Washington, D>C.
- Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, Vice President of Landscape Architecture / Practice Leader of the Americas, AECOM , Arlington, Virginia
- Amy Coffman Phillips, Founder, B-Collaborative , Chicago, Illinois
- David Drake, Professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin 
- Gina Ford, Principal, Sasaki , Watertown, Massachusetts
- Cinda Gilliland, Principal, Reed Gilliland , Petaluma, California
- Liz Guthrie, Associate Director, Resilience Practice, Network, and Learning, 100 Resilient Cities , New York, New York
- Shane Hampton, Director, Institute for Quality Communities, University of Oklahoma , Norman, Oklahoma
- Mami Hara, General Manager / CEO, Seattle Public Utilities , Seattle, Washington
- Maureen Heffernan, Executive Director, Myriad Gardens Foundation , Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Mary Margaret Jones, Senior Principal, Hargreaves Associates , San Francisco, California
- Ted Landsmark, Director, Northeastern University Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy , Boston, Massachusetts
- Rondi Large, Executive Director, Wildcare Foundation , Noble, Oklahoma
- Dwight Lawson, Executive Director, Oklahoma City Zoo , Oklahoma, Oklahoma
- Liza Lehrer, Urban Wildlife Ecologist, Urban Wildlife Institute , Chicago, Illinois
- Molly McCabe, Founder and President, HaydenTanner , LLC, Bigfork, Montana
- Aubrey McDermid, Director of Planning, City of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma
- Seth Magle, Director, Urban Wildlife Initiative , Chicago, Illinois
- Brent Wall, Director, LAUD Studio , Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Clark Wilson, Acting Director, Community Assistance and Research Division, Office of Community Revitalization, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
- Tao Zhang, Principal, Sasaki , Watertown, Massachusetts
Photo: Crystal Bridge Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City, OK. Image courtesy Myriad Botanical Gardens.