URBAN DESIGN STUDIO II: The Regional Studio Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation



The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Architectural Foundation.

The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a program that conducts a series of intimate, closed-door two-day symposia intended to offer a small group of invited mayors a better understanding of the design of American cities. Participation is limited to sixteen to twenty people: half are mayors and half are urban design experts and other resource people.

The mayors represent a wide variety of cities and bring a wide variety of design issues to the table. The resource team members range from architects and planners to public policy specialists, developers, preservationists, sociologists, lawyers, landscape architects, and historians, and include practicing professionals as well as distinguished academics.

The institute format encourages a high degree of participation and exchange. Each mayor presents a design issue from his or her city, which is analyzed by the other mayors and the design professionals who, working together, discuss how an appropriate design process can help solve the problem. The exchange between mayors and the resource team sparks lively debate, opens new perspectives, and leads to creative proposals for solutions.

The resource team members also make presentations on general principles of urban design. These provide important background for the mayors on planning, urban design, landscape design, and the role of developers. The mayors and designers discuss both generic and specific problems facing cities today, and explore how the public and private sectors can work together to improve the conditions of our cities. Particular emphasis is placed on how the design process works, and on the importance of the mayor as city designer.

This document is the meeting summary of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, which was hosted by Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation on December 14-16, 2011. This summary draws on the background materials prepared for the Institute’s Briefing Book as well as on the actual presentations made during the Institute.

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