ISU College of Design, City of Des Moines co-host Mayor's institute on City Design

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The Iowa State University College of Design, with support from the Office of the Vice President for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, hosted a session of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) July 27–29 in Des Moines. MICD is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The institute holds multiple workshops throughout the country each year to help mayors find solutions to the most critical planning and design challenges facing their cities. Sessions were organized around case-study projects: each mayor presented a project from their community and received feedback from other mayors and a resource team of multidisciplinary design and development professionals. The interchanges sparked debate, generated new ideas and inspired creative thinking.

MICD Des Moines 2022 included mayors from seven communities:

  • Frank Cownie, Des Moines (host)
  • Robin Mouton, Beaumont, Texas
  • Lacey Beaty, Beaverton, Oregon
  • Aaron Brockett, Boulder, Colorado
  • Rob Green, Cedar Falls
  • Scott Conger, Jackson, Tennessee
  • Wayne Messam, Miramar, Florida

Resource team members included:

  • Steven Lewis, urban design principal, ZGF Architects, Los Angeles
  • Paul Mankins, principal, Substance Architecture, Des Moines
  • Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean and professor, ISU College of Design, Ames
  • Ciara Schlichting, director of operations, Toole Design, Minneapolis
  • Lisa Tziona Switkin, senior principal, Field Operations, New York City
  • Donald Young, founder and principal, D.R. Young Associates, San Rafael, California

Julie Robison, ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development specialist, and Carl Rogers, chair of the ISU College of Design’s Department of Landscape Architecture, served as co-project managers and had the opportunity to travel to the participating cities in advance of the MICD session to help identify and develop the case studies.

The event began with a City of Des Moines-led tour highlighting public-private partnerships and the role of the riverfront in revitalization. The mayors brought projects related to riverfront revitalization and development, transit-oriented development, food-hub development, and mixed-use development and community engagement.

The MICD workshop allowed ISU to bring in top design talent from across the United States and Iowa and create an opportunity for selected mayors to engage in problem solving around complex community planning and design issues.

Rob Green, mayor of Cedar Falls, speaking of his experience after the session, said “This is a fantastic experience for any mayor seeking to develop a major new community project. The tools and perspectives provided in the institute are invaluable.”

While this MICD Des Moines 2022 session was national in scope, the team hopes, as part of the land-grant university’s extension and outreach mission, to disseminate lessons learned to Iowa-based mayors and communities plans for Iowa-based sessions as a follow-on activity to bring Iowa mayors and Iowa-based design experts together to address most compelling community design challenges facing Iowa cities.