Mayors, architects unite at U.S. Conference of Mayors

AIA’s EVP/CEO and president champion architects at the annual gathering of city leaders.

AIA’s EVP/CEO Lakisha Ann Woods, CAE, and AIA President Kimberly Dowdell, AIA, NOMAC, led a delegation to the 92nd annual U.S. Conference of Mayors  (USCM) June 20-23 in Kansas City, Mo., delivering the message that architects and mayors should be partners for progress.  The USCM listened, passing a policy resolution supporting and encourages America’s mayors to work with AIA to reimagine downtown revitalization, design and build more livable and diverse cities that are equitable and economically powerful, maximize federal tax incentives to expedite effective redevelopment, align state, local and federal policies to encourage more housing options, and bring a chief architect into local government to propel a mayor’s vision forward.

AIA’s delegation, which included members of AIA’s advocacy team and AIA Kansas City, were told by mayors they would like an architects' database to use for recruiting architects to sit on board and commissions and to help with major projects. Mayors shared that their biggest challenge in collaborating with architects is funding. AIA leaders met individually with more than 15 U.S. mayors and connected with hundreds of other municipal leaders to listen and learn of their challenges and offering solutions from the architect’s perspective

Following Wood’s presentation, where she outlined AIA's Chief Architect Initiative, more than 20 mayors asked to be connected with local AIA chapters.

“Architects are committed to working with you to address the most urgent challenges of our time and are uniquely well-equipped to advise mayors on pressing civic issues to help build a better, more resilient future together,” Woods told conference attendees.

Dowdell’s AIA Best Practice Forum: Designing Solutions to the Housing Crisis: Adaptive Reuse and the 15-Minute City, was among the most highly attended panels at the event; more than 70 mayors and other municipal leaders participated. Before leading a conversation between mayors from across the country, Dowdell shared the influence architects have in helping cities reduce the growing cost of housing.

“We see the city as one mosaic and understand how a proposed development project will fit or not fit within a street, neighborhood, or city,” said Dowdell. “Mayors need [architects] on the team to help them call balls and strikes, to vet the proposed projects, and to get the projects through the development process and completed. A chief architect will save your city time and money, which is a win-win for everyone in the city.”