Sasaki principal Gina Ford, ASLA participated in a City Managers’ Design Academy (CMDA) work session. A complement to the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD), Design Academy sessions bring city managers and expert consultants together to discuss the central role design plays in city building and revitalization.
“The American Architectural Foundation launched the City Managers’ Design Academy in 2015 to support U.S. city managers in the stewardship and maintenance of the places they serve,” says Elizabeth Okele-Von Batten, Director of the Center for Design & the City. “To date, the program has engaged 22 city managers through four unique design academies during which the city managers learn from peers and top multi-disciplinary designers, as well as contribute valuable lessons that they have learned when solving complex financial, stakeholder engagement, and process implementation challenges.”
In the session, city managers from Lewisville, Texas, Hercules, California, Raleigh, North Carolina, Decatur, Georgia, Eugene, Oregon, and Long Beach, California discussed case studies of interesting and challenging design projects in their communities. Bringing a design perspective, experts in the design field presented transformative projects they had seen to fruition.
Ford participated as an expert consultant, presenting on landscape as urban catalyst at three scales, focusing on Sasaki projects The Lawn on D, Chicago Riverwalk, and Changing Course: A Sustainable Delta for All. Topics of discussion during the three day long session included the role of the city versus the role of the developer in urban change, community engagement and inclusive planning, and the value of placemaking.
"The Academy gives designers a unique and intensive glimpse into the mind of city managers—a role often defined by its ability to consistently shape change in our cities,” said Ford of her experience. “Understanding their perspective can help give greater dimension and relevance to our design process and outcomes. I am grateful to have the chance to participate!"
Read more about the session here.