Mayors' Institute on City Design
1620 Eye Street, NW
3rd Floor
Washington DC
Tel: +1 202.463.1390
Fax: +1 202.463.1392

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US forum dedicated to
improving urban design

12 October 2003: The Washington-based Mayors' Institute on City Design (MICD) is a program dedicated to improving the design of, and livability in, America's cities through the efforts of their chief elected leaders, their mayors. The program is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), established in 1986 and now administered by the American Architectural Foundation (AAF) in partnership with the NEA and the US Conference of Mayors.

The Institute hosts a series of symposiums, each lasting two-and-a-half days, on city design organized around presentations and roundtable discussions. Participation is limited to fewer than 20 persons, half mayors and half a resource team made up of outstanding urban design and development professionals. At each meeting, participants discuss specific problems facing cities during a series of roundtable discussions. Participating mayors present design issues currently facing their cities such as waterfront redevelopment, downtown revitalization and new public buildings such as sports or arts facilities. Following each presentation, mayors and designers identify issues, offer suggestions, and discuss alternative paths towards a solution. The interchange sparks lively debate, opens new perspectives, and generates creative ideas. Members of the resource team also make presentations on the role of their profession in the process of city design, illustrated by outstanding examples and best practices.

During the Institute’s 15-year history, more than 500 mayors and 400 design professionals have participated. Mayors who have attended credit the experience as transforming the way they look at their cities. One alumnus, Mayor William A. Johnson of Rochester, NY, states: "In more than 33 years of professional experience, no program or learning experience has been more beneficial to me than this one." The Institute also been recognized with a number of awards, including a Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 2000, a Progressive Architecture award from Architecture magazine in 1997, and an Institute Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1992.

The Mayors' Institute on City Design is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) which provides core funding. Program oversight is provided by the NEA in partnership with the US Conference of Mayors. Since 1998, the program has been administered by the American Architectural Foundation (AAF). Through a cooperative agreement with the NEA, the AAF maintains the Institute's National Office and directs two institute sessions per year. Previous co-operators have been the University of Virginia (1986 to 1995), and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (1995 to 1998). Four additional Institute sessions each year are sponsored by the Institute's university partners, schools of architecture and planning around the country, with funding and oversight from the AAF and the MICD National Office.

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