US Mayor Article

Bollwage, McCrory and Savage Join Architects for Discussion of Urban Stewardship

By Kevin McCarty
May 15, 2000

Key Conference of Mayors leaders joined with the nation's architects for a discussion of urban stewardship during the 2000 National Convention of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in Philadelphia.

Speaking at a plenary session workshop May 4, Elizabeth, NJ Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory, and Tulsa Mayor M. Susan Savage talked about local strategies to promote the reuse of brownfields, transit-oriented development, in-fill development and smart growth.

McCrory, Chair of the Conference's Energy and Environment Committee, challenged the architects to work with mayors and business leaders to focus on the long-term value of development. "We should ask ourselves in everything we do together, will it have a life span of a minimum of 50 years?" McCrory said.

Expressing his concern about the short life expectancy of many buildings, shopping centers and arenas, McCrory said, "One of our biggest challenges is: what do you do with something that has such a short-term life?"

He told the architects that "I need your help." McCrory added "we need your help to figure out what our city needs to look like a hundred years from now so that the next 10-15 years of development can help get us there."

Discussing his region's plans for a major transit investment of more than $1 billion, he said, "we need design along these corridors that will make a difference. This will determine whether these stations work."

Savage Touts Work of Architects in Tulsa

Mayor Savage, who serves as a Conference Trustee, discussed her many initiatives to promote in-fill development, smart growth and improved quality of life, applauding the work of architects in her area to help Tulsa "focus and refocus" its efforts. She described the challenges before her city, stating, "How do we build, and rebuild, neighborhoods where we think about transportation? Where we think about amenities? Where we think about links to our trails system? Where we think about bus stops and all of those things that make a community a place to live?"

Savage explained further that "we're not just looking at how to preserve and protect our tax base and grow our community, but how to do it with quality and how to integrate our transportation systems and to do it so people will want to chose to live in our city."

Bollwage Emphasizes Brownfields

Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, a Conference of Mayors leader on brownfields, talked about the challenge of brownfields. "As a society, we need to figure out a way to reuse our land. This is a challenge not just for mayors but for the nation," he said.

"We are tearing up land at much faster rate than we should," Bollwage told the architects. He challenged the audience to work with mayors to help recycle these properties. "You need to be creative, and political and business community need to stand up for economic growth in the inner city and re-creating urban land," Bollwage said.

He also talked about the many successes that the City of Elizabeth has had in reclaiming brownfields sites, including development of the second biggest outlet mall on the East Coast, which occurred on a former landfill site.

Also joining the panel was the former U.N. Ambassador and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. He said, "One of the best things mayors can do is to listen to you (architects) and pick out the things that you can take to the bank." He continued that mayors then are in the position to "package these ideas, make them politically credible and sell them to the private sector."

Former Louisville Mayor and Past Conference President Jerry Abramson presided at the session. He opened the session by stating that "there is a lot going on in American cities and a lot has to do with design and with the vision of its leaders." Abramson also serves as a member of the AIA Board of Directors.

More than 11,00 architects and other professionals attended the May 4-6 AIA National Convention.

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