Raise Your Sustainable City Ambitions

Philadelphia Navy Yard 2013 Master Plan Update / Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Pennoni Associates
Philadelphia Navy Yard 2013 Master Plan Update / Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Pennoni Associates

The American Architectural Foundation’s Sustainable Cities Design Academy (SCDA) is looking for innovative public-private partnerships with ambitious sustainable planning and design goals. Teams are encouraged to apply to participate in an intensive 2.5-day design workshop led by SCDA in Washington, D.C., August 3-5, 2016.

Since 2009, SCDA has helped 55 project teams from 50 cities in the U.S. hone their sustainable plans and designs. Some recent highlights:

Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania: In 2009, a team of planning officials and developers met to discuss how best to achieve their goal of urban, mixed-use development on the 1,000-acre former ship yard. The team sought guidance on “best practices in sustainable planning, design, and development, including strategies coordinated with the recently launched GreenPlan Philadelphia and LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) certification process.”

According to SCDA, their experts helped the project team realize “symbiotic relationships that the Navy Yard development could promote with the City of Philadelphia. These included integrating transportation and open space networks throughout the 1,000 acre site as well as developing residential and commercial spaces onsite to promote 24/7 use.” Check out the resulting master plan, which also includes the landscape planning work of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

Mill River District, New Haven, Connecticut: A 206-acre urban and light industrial district in New Haven has many underused brownfield sites. “To address these challenges and build on the area’s native advantages, the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven (EDC), and the City of New Haven Department of Economic Development entered a public-private partnership with Mill River District businesses to create a development plan that will maintain the city’s industrial base, establish the district’s distinct identity, attract new businesses, and address sustainability challenges at the local and regional levels.”

With the help of SCDA in a 2012 design workshop, a revised plan was devised to improve pedestrian access, especially to the riverfront; set aside some parts of the waterfront for flood-preventing green infrastructure; and create a better balance between environmental and economic development. Kelly Murphy, New Haven’s Economic Development Administrator, said, “the lessons learned through SCDA played a large role in shaping the way we view the district.” Learn more about the resulting phased planning approach.

Mariposa Corridor, Fresno, California: In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the city of Fresno, which is home to more than 500,000 residents, has some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the country. While there are major challenges, city leaders have long sought to revitalize the Mariposa corridor, which connects Fulton Mall, a former main street that was transformed by architect Victor Gruen and landscape architect Garrett Eckbo into a pedestrian mall in the mid-60s; the civic center; and a proposed new high-speed rail transit center.

In 2012, SCDA experts helped the Mariposa corridor project team, which included city officials and local developers, to comprehensively rethink the deteriorating pedestrian mall and vacant buildings along the corridor, creating an integrated transportation and economic development strategy. The team then leveraged the new concepts created at SCDA to win millions in federal transportation planning grants. Plans were also shared with the community and local arts groups, which led to some innovative fundraisers (a rapelling event), and public space improvements, including the construction of an ice rink.

Submit your application by January 28, 2016.

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