Winners Announced: Mayors Innovative Design Cohort

A partnership of The American Institute of Architects and Mayors Innovation Project

How can mayors utilize architects to build zero-carbon, resilient, healthy, and equitable cities?

Today we are excited to announce the three winning cities that are about to find out: Eastpointe, MI; Clarksville, TN; and Blacksburg, VA. 

These cities will have the opportunity to address the climate crisis while creating equitable, inclusive public spaces in their communities. Each city will receive technical assistance for a project with final written recommendations from an architect, funds to support an inclusive design process, and more.

“AIA is excited to work with three mayors in their cities on projects to make neighborhoods more equitable and resilient to climate change,” said 2021 AIA President Peter Exley, FAIA. “When architects work alongside city leaders to solve a reuse or retrofit challenge, the result can not only reduce environmental impact but equitably serve the surrounding community.”

“Mayors and their cities are on the front lines of many of today’s most pressing challenges,” said Katya Spear, Managing Director, MIP, “We’re delighted for this opportunity to support these cities around green design. Every city has vacant and underused spaces like the ones being featured in this project, and this effort will offer models that cities across the country can use.”

Eastpointe, MI

The City of Eastpointe, MI will work with architects to design an open-air space downtown, creating opportunities to establish a farmer’s market, bring in other public events, and promote walkability.  

“Eastpointe is a town that continues to move forward by using creativity and innovative ways to take our city to the next level. With the help of our team and the sponsors of this grant, this opportunity will turn our vision into reality,” stated Mayor Monique Owens, Eastpointe, MI.

Clarksville, TN

Located in one of Clarksville, TN’s poorest neighborhoods, the Frosty Morn building was a meat packing plant until 1977. Now vacant and dilapidated, the City will work with architects to reimagine a new future for the building with a focus on inclusive neighborhood revitalization.  

“This project will become the signature sustainability project in our city and should garner national and international attention,” stated Mayor Joe Pitts, Clarksville, TN.

Blacksburg, VA

The Town of Blacksburg, VA will work with an architect to re-imagine a vacant downtown storefront. 

“We’ll be using a collaborative approach to create a retail incubator right in the heart of Blacksburg’s historic commercial district,” stated Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith, Blacksburg, VA. “It will form a nexus for the arts, commerce, and tourism while the physical space gives a boost to small businesses, as well as nonprofits.  And we’re especially excited that we’ll be working with an experienced group of architecture professionals to bring this longtime dream to life.”

“The fact is, buildings create about 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, but architects can design them not to,” stated Exley.  “By re-imagining an underused, vacant, or deteriorating building, these projects will help these cities address the urgent needs climate change presents.”

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About AIA

Founded in 1857, The American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation, and world. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.

About MIP

Based at the University of Wisconsin, the Mayors Innovation Project creates spaces that are uniquely for mayors and city leaders through events, topic-specific cohorts, technical assistance and more.