A Blueprint for Better Cities

The Mayors Innovative Design Cohort

Letters of interest are due Friday, May 28!

We are excited to launch a partnership with The American Institute of Architects (AIA) to help mayors build zero-carbon, resilient, healthy, and equitable cities. We are offering 3 cities the opportunity to partner with an architect to tackle a local renovation, reuse or retrofit challenge that aims to reduce environmental impact and equitably serve the surrounding community. 

Architects know that the greenest building is the one already built.

And many cities across the country have an overabundance of vacant, deteriorating, or underused buildings that could be transformed into community assets. 

Download full details

AIA is the largest design organization in the world and, through their Blueprint for Better Campaign, they are bringing together communities, civic leaders and architects to re-imagine a built environment that addresses the urgent needs climate change presents. Learn more.

3 winning US cities will receive:

  • Technical assistance with final written recommendations from an architect, customized to suit your specific project scope and needs. 
  • Up to $5,000 per city to cover necessary city staff time, engagement tools, and supplies. 
  • The opportunity to present their project at a future (virtual or in-person) Mayors Innovation Project event. 

To Apply

Letter of Interest due Friday, May 28

To be considered, please submit a brief letter of interest of no more than one page (500 words max) that includes:

  • A description of the vacant, deteriorating, or underused building that you want to target for this project 
  • A description of how this building/project would fulfill the mission of the Blueprint for Better Campaign and contribute to a zero-carbon, resilient, healthy, just, and equitable built environment.
  • A description of any work to date on this building/project 
  • A description of the biggest challenges you face in this project 
  • Jurisdiction and level of decision-making authority the city has over the site

We will then invite cities to submit full proposals, due Friday, July 30.

Download full details

Submit letter of interest



Whether your city is struggling to implement an equitable growth strategy, conserve energy, reuse abandoned buildings or empty office space, or create affordable housing, architects can help you design solutions and uncover the hidden value in your city’s existing building stock. 

Why should city leaders work with architects to focus on renovation, reuse, and retrofits?

  • Compared to new construction, a greater proportion of a retrofit’s budget typically goes to labor, creating more jobs for the dollars spent. 
  • Among building owners, 94 percent believe that their buildings are more valuable after a green retrofit. 
  • Adaptation and reuse promote cultural heritage and social cohesion, which the United Nations cites as critical to community resilience.
  • Buildings create about 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, but architects can design them not to.
  • Energy-efficient retrofits achieve dual savings: conserving embodied energy and curtailing operations emissions.

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