Mayors Innovative Design Cohort

The Mayors Innovative Design Cohort is a partnership with The American Institute of Architects (AIA) to help mayors build zero-carbon, resilient, healthy, and equitable cities. 

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. 

Three project organizers meet in Eastpointe, MI to discuss their project
Eastpointe, MI
Clarksville, TN
Blacksburg, VA

Project Winners

Three winning cities—Eastpointe MI, Clarksville TN, and Blacksburg VA—have partnered with an architect to tackle a local renovation, reuse or retrofit challenge that aims to reduce environmental impact and equitably serve the surrounding community. 

These cities 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. 

Project News


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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