Mayors Innovative Design Cohort Update

In partnership with The American Institute of Architects, we launched the first-ever Mayors Innovative Design Cohort in September 2021. This project pairs three mayors (& city staff) to work with an architect team to help reimagine one local space, all with the aim of creating zero-carbon, resilient, inclusive and equitable cities. 

These projects are perfect examples of how utilizing our existing building stock is a great strategy for creating sustainable and equitable communities, a topic that AIA discussed in more detail here

Mayors and their cities include: 

    • Mayor Monique Owens, Eastpointe, MI
    • Mayor Joe Pitts, Clarksville, TN
    • Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith, Blacksburg, VA

Since last Fall, the cities and their AIA partners have been hard at work developing plans for how they will create a sustainable and inclusive space in their community. You can read more about the details and goals of each individual project here. Below are a few updates on the progress being made: 

Eastpointe, MI: In January 2022, Eastpointe’s design partners led a group of over 20 people in a design charrette, an interactive brainstorming session to develop broad engagement and gather big ideas. This online event brought together architects, artists, landscape designers, community members, and planners and touched on topics ranging from pedestrian connections, to landscape and stormwater solutions, to the eventual programming that would be held in the future public space. Eastpointe is looking forward to taking the lessons learned from the charrette and using them to launch a full public engagement effort to ensure that the future space meets the needs of the community.

Screenshots of Easpointe’s Virtual Design Charrette 

Blacksburg, VA: Blacksburg has also adopted the strategy of a design charrette to receive feedback and brainstorm ideas. The city, in conjunction with their AIA partners, hosted two charrettes in April 2022 that provided an orientation to the approximately 4,000 square foot vacant building, a history of the property, and an overview of environmental remediation efforts.  Project partners then used the time together to discuss how the space may be used, including a potential Small Business Retail Incubator, exhibit and conference space, and office space for nonprofits focused on supporting the arts and culture that make downtown Blacksburg special. 

Clarksville, TN: Clarksville is taking on perhaps the most ambitious project in the cohort. The city is currently completing a comprehensive economic study to determine the highest and best use of the former Frosty Morn meatpacking plant that has sat vacant since 1977. This study will help guide Clarksville’s vision for the site that they hope to turn into a community asset that will focus on inclusive neighborhood revitalization. Earlier this year, the project team took inspiration from a trip to Nashville to tour the site of the former Neuhoff meat packing plant, a mixed-use adaptive reuse project that is currently under construction.

Representatives from Clarksville tour the Neuhoff development in Nashville.