Mayors Innovative Design Cohort Kicks Off

The Mayors Innovative Design Cohort—a partnership with The American Institute of Architects—kicked off last month with a packed virtual room of architects, mayors and 20+ city staff from Eastpointe, MI, Clarksville, TN, and Blacksburg, VA. 

These three winning cities were paired with their architect teams for the first time to discuss barriers, opportunities, and next steps, which include in-person site visits, stakeholder-focused charrettes, and community engagement. 

“The message these three projects represent is clear to me: climate action will save our cities and equitable design will re-shape our citizenry. You need architects to build better projects if you want to remain relevant and prosperous.” – 2021 AIA President Peter Exley, FAIA

Partnered with an architect for about 6 months to tackle a local renovation, reuse or retrofit challenge, each city’s goal is to reduce environmental impact and equitably serve the surrounding community. 

The three city projects include:

Eastpointe, MI

The City 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.  

Clarksville, TN

Located in one of the City’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.  

Blacksburg, VA

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

Renovating buildings to become net-zero carbon can have a tremendously positive impact, with three key benefits: creating more equity by strengthening local economies, making buildings more valuable, and ensuring carbon goals are met.

Community engagement and reinvestment plays a key role in creating more equity and inclusion. Compared with new construction, a larger proportion of a retrofit’s budget often goes to local labor, creating more jobs with each dollar spent. In 2017, for instance, renovation and retrofits accounted for 43 percent of architecture firm billings in the United States, with much of that likely going to local contractors and communities.

Learn more about each project here.

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.