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AIA Renews NPR Cities Sponsorship

This public outreach tool enters second year of sponsorship

Beginning May 6, the AIA will again sponsor NPR’s  Cities Project, helping bring to the public stories about the places that will define the future of human settlement and development. From May thru June 17, NPR Cities, which will air weekly on the NPR program All Things Considered, will share with its influential public radio audience more stories about the value, positive change, and vision of forward-thinking cities and the architects that help shape them. This role of architects is underscored by the sponsorship message: “Members of the American Institute of Architects; working to build better homes, businesses, and communities. Building for life. More at A-I-A dot o-r-g.”

Featuring stories about climate change, shifting demographic preferences, and economic opportunities pushing people across the world to cities, the series makes clear that the history of the 21st century will be an urban one. The AIA will again be an integral partner in telling this story, with sponsorship mentions on NPR’s All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Weekend Edition, and The Diane Rehm Show, potentially reaching 26 million people who listen to NPR each week.

Last year’s collaboration with public radio brought listeners urban-centric accounts of how to manage social inequality and poverty, like a nonprofit’s mapping of incarceration funding rates in inner city neighborhoods, and stories of how to manage rapid affluence and growth, like Miami residents’ quest to develop park space amid a real estate boom that has been marching condo towers across the horizon. There are stories that are timeworn, familiar, and sad, like Detroit’s ongoing struggle to build trust and cooperation between urban and suburban neighborhoods, and new stories that document the rise of brash developing world metropolises that struggle to avoid repeating the errors of the past, like Wuhan, China, a city of 10 million that has sprung up without a single heavy-rail transit line.

And there are stories of the cultural change wrought by urbanism, as Aurora, Colo., for example, struggles to evolve from a monocultural suburban place to a diverse multiethnic urban community, and stories of how climate change affects cities, like Boston’s efforts to prepare the coastal city for dangerously rising sea levels. The people telling these stories are both civic leader decision-makers, like Harriet Tregoning, director of the Washington, D.C., Office of Planning, who wants to rebalance personal transit options away from automobiles; and grassroots advocates and experts like John Meunier, AIA, who’s formulating strategies for desert cities like Phoenix to resist scorching temperatures exacerbated by climate change. Indeed, these are often stories of form, function, and the impact of architecture—building for life.


Losing Lost Highways: Architects are assuming a variety of roles in plans to remove obsolete infrastructure and step into the community dialogue and articulate what makes cities unique. Graphic by Don Foley.

Joplin’s Return: on May 22, 2011, a Category 5 tornado descended from the sky, ravaging Joplin, Mo.’s, infrastructure. Over the next few days, a special AIA task force of architects trained in disaster recovery took the lead on building assessments. Photo by Mike Gullett.

Higher Education Design: Campus planners are again aiming for visionary plans that consider the real complexity of college and university functions. Image courtesy of Kliment Halsband Architects.


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