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Power of Design in Sustainability

Urban design has a new advocate -- mayors who understand the role of visionary design to affect susainability.

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california business solutions Urban design is becoming part of our cultural infrastructure -- both a tool and a vision for how we define community. The Mayors' Institute on City Design has played a role in the transformation of nooks and crannies of our daily lives...and design for sustainability is growing to cope with our growing population and power to transform natural resources.

Helping Communities Design Their Futures

Of all the programs sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, it is hard to imagine one that has done more tangible public good than the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. Since its creation almost twenty years ago, the Institute has graduated more than 625 mayors, many of whom have returned to their cities with a renewed sense of purpose and a newfound belief in the power of design. The inspiring results can now be documented.

Cities have been reconnected to their waterfronts, highways replaced by tree-lined boulevards, new civic buildings well located and beautifully designed. Even a short list of this program’s many accomplishments demonstrates the positive leadership and informed counsel the Mayors’ Institute has provided to communities across the nation.

Conversations with the program’s alumni, without exception, have yielded compelling stories of specific physical outcomes that would not have occurred without the inspiration and education offered by the Institute. Some of these are discussed in the pages ahead. The Arts Endowment is convinced that skillful civic design makes a concrete impact on the character of a community and the lives of its citizens. For this reason, we will continue our strong support of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design as one of the agency’s signature programs.

Dana Gioia
National Endowment for the Arts

"The former mayor of Sacramento sent me a note a few months ago that said, “Remember, Mayor, I came to the Institute with a design issue, but what I learned was that we hadn’t protected our state capitol. I went back, brought in designers, and we created a new planning requirement so that large buildings couldn’t be built right in front of the state capitol of California.”

The mayors go home accepting the responsibility of being their city’s chief urban designer. They don’t go back as architects or landscape architects or planners. They go back as leaders, accepting the responsibility to make the physical development of their cities more worthwhile."

"Physical things lend themselves to statistics. But in the final analysis, it is the human experience that counts. That is what this is about." R. T. Rybak Mayor of Minneapolis, MN

"Design is the one art that surrounds us every day, whether we want it to or not, and its quality can have a profound effect on the quality of our lives. Nowhere is this more evident than in the American city, where the ground is literally layered with generation after generation of design decisions, some for good and some for ill, that together constitute the public realm. This environment is the work of many hands, but no single hand can be said to have as profound an impact as that of the American mayor. " Jeff B. Speck ~ Director of Design National Endowment for the Arts

"The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is based on one simple premise: that in American cities, design matters. Or, more precisely, that physical design is a fundamental tool that mayors can wield to positively affect the social well-being and economic vitality of their cities." Sharpe James Mayor of Newark, NJ

"America was settled by people who desired a rural, agrarian experience. But now we are the largest urban nation in the world. Increasingly, the daily lives of most Americans are infl uenced by towns and cities. The extent to which our towns and cities are places of beauty, order, and inspiration is the extent to which this civilization in America will thrive." Joseph Riley Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina

CALIFORNIA ALUMNI of the program:

Alameda ~ Ralph Appezzato
Anaheim ~ Tom Daly, Curt Pringle
Azusa ~ Cristina Cruz Madrid
Berkeley ~ Shirley Dean, Tom Bates
Beverly Hills ~ Meralee Goldman, Vicki Reynolds
Salinas ~ Anna Caballero
San Bernadino ~ Judith Valles, W. R. “Bob” Holcomb
San Jose ~ Lawrence Stone
San Leandro ~ Ellen Corbett, Shelia Young
San Mateo ~ Sue Lampert
San Rafael ~ Albert J. Boro
Sand City ~ David Pendergrass
Santa Ana ~ Tom Lutz
Santa Barbara ~ Sheila Lodge, Marty Blum
Santa Clara ~ Judy Nadler
Santa Cruz ~ Katherine Beiers
Santa Rosa ~ Sharon Wright, Michael Martini
Santee ~ Jack Doyle
Seaside ~ Jerry Smith, Don Jordan
Soledad ~ Richard Ortiz
Stockton ~ Joan Darrah, Gary Podesto
Temecula ~ J. Sal Munoz
Torrance ~ Dan Walker

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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