AIA Selects 10 Communities for Community Assistance Program to Promote Long-Term Sustainability

Feb. 4, 2009
The Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects (AIA) Center for Communities by Design has selected Los Angeles; Cleveland; Indianapolis; SE Tennessee Valley, TN; Virginia Beach, VA; Orange, MA; Port Angeles, WA; Hilo, HI; Beatrice, NE; and Eagle River Valley, CO, as 10 communities to receive technical assistance under the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) program in 2009. The collaborative SDAT brings together architects and other professionals assembled from across the country to provide a roadmap for communities seeking to improve their sustainability - as defined by a community's ability to meet the environmental, economic, and social equity needs of today without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

"In its fourth year, the SDAT program continues to evolve by offering detailed solutions for neighborhood revitalization, transportation infrastructure challenges and a host of economic and environmental issues facing communities all over the country," says Joel Mills, director of the AIA Center for Communities by Design. "The volunteer architects and other team members are able to provide invaluable consulting services on how to better utilize local assets, ideas for how to transform blighted areas and ways to make these communities more pedestrian friendly."

An architect-led team of professionals including planners, hydrologists, economic development specialists, and others will be selected based on their credentials and the specific needs of each community. The SDAT will work in conjunction with local stakeholders to help shape the community's strategy to increase sustainability. To provide the most objective assessment, team members volunteer their time and expertise and are selected from areas outside the project communities.

Scope of issues examined in each community:
Los Angeles: Air quality, public services, revitalization, and accessibility.
Cleveland: Brownfield redevelopment, urban agriculture, and expanding walkability.
Indianapolis: Transit-oriented development, neighborhood redevelopment, and housing.
Chattanooga, TN: Water conservation, mass transit options, and recycling solutions.
Virginia Beach, VA: Renewable energy and green economic development strategy.
Orange, MA: Historic preservation, building rehabilitation, and transportation solutions.
Port Angeles, WA: Design incentive program and vacant structure redevelopment.
Hilo, HI: Economic development, smart growth, and promote community assets.
Beatrice, NE: Urban revitalization and connect downtown with physical assets.
Eagle River Valley, CO: Define and create large-scale vision of sustainability.

SDAT Program Elements
The communities were selected after submitting an application to the 2009 SDAT review panel outlining the economic, environmental, and social equity challenges facing their region. The SDAT community assistance program provides the selected communities with these components:

  • Preliminary/scoping visit.
  • Three-day visit from a multidisciplinary team.
  • A report highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the community with regards to sustainability, along with the opportunities and obstacles to change.
  • Consultations after the three-day visit (typically by phone or e-mail).

To learn more about the AIA Center for Communities by Design or the SDAT program visit: http://www.aia.org/liv_sdat



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