LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 10, 2012) — What does Lexington have in common with Cambridge, Mass., and Atlantic City? Each of the city’s mayors are meeting with five other mayors and design experts from across the country to talk city design this week at the University of Kentucky College of Design. Beginning today, the college is hosting this year’s Mayors’ Institute on City Design East Conference. The institute, which prepares mayors for their leadership positions in city design transformations, is being presented through Oct. 13 at UK.
The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, the Mayors’ Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.
The Mayors’ Institute on City Design achieves its mission by organizing sessions, like the one at UK, where mayors engage leading design experts to find solutions to the most critical urban design challenges facing their cities. Sessions are organized around case-study problems. Each mayor presents a problem from his or her city for the other mayors and designers to discuss.
Each year, partner organizations plan and manage six to eight institute sessions held throughout the country. Each session is limited to fewer than 20 participants, half mayors and half a resource team consisting of outstanding city design and development professionals.
Mayors present a range of challenges, including waterfront redevelopment, downtown revitalization, transportation planning, and the design of new public buildings, such as libraries and arts centers. Following each presentation, mayors and designers identify important issues, offer suggestions, and discuss potential solutions. The exchange aims to spark debate, open new perspectives, and generate creative ideas. Members of the resource team also make presentations on the role of their profession in the process of city design, illustrated by outstanding examples and best practices.
The participating mayors in this year’s sessions include Melodee Colbert-Kean, of Joplin, Mo.; Henrietta Davis, of Cambridge, Mass.; Kim McMillan, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Lorenzo T. Langford, of Atlantic City, N.J.; Neil O’Leary, of Waterbury, Conn.; Liz Rogan, of Lower Merion, Pa; and Vaughn D. Spencer, of Reading, Pa. Also participating in the talk will be Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
The event also features several experts and designers including, Gary Bates, a partner at Space Group; Shane Coen, principal and founder of Coen+Partners; Jeanne Gang, principal and founder of Studio Gang; Paul Morris, deputy secretary for transit of the North Carolina Department of Transportation; Roberto de Leon, principal of de Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop; Susan Sellers, founding partner and creative director of 2×4; and Roger Sherman, director of Roger Sherman Architecture and Urban Design.
The Mayors’ Institute on City Design has graduated more than 850 mayors. Many of these are still in office, and a half-dozen are either in Congress or in a governor’s mansion. The program has also graduated more than 600 designers who have often commented on learning as much from the mayors as the mayors have learned from them. Design is a two-way street, and the Mayors’ Institute was founded both to educate mayors about design and to educate the design community about the latest practical needs of our cities. For more information on the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, visit the institute online at: www.micd.org.