Mayors' Institute on City Design

Kansas City, MO Mayor Quinton Lucas Welcomes the Mayors’ Institute on City Design for its 77th National Session

The 77th National Session of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) took place July 12-14, 2023 in Kansas City, MO, hosted by Mayor Quinton Lucas.

The event brought together seven mayors from across the United States to discuss the most pressing design and development challenges facing their cities. Seven experts in urban planning, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, arts and culture, transportation, and real estate development joined the mayors for two and a half days of discussions, offering pragmatic advice for each mayor’s project.

The session began with a tour of the 18th & Vine Jazz District led by Glenn North, Director of Inclusive Learning & Creative Impact for the Kansas City Museum. In the 1920s and 30s, this thriving Black business district and historic heart of jazz was also host to the first baseball stadium for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. After decades of neglect, city investments are now kick-starting a rebirth that celebrates its rich history. MICD participants toured the newly-opened Vine Street Brewing, the first Black-owned brewery in Missouri, in a historic building that had once housed streetcars before sitting vacant for decades.

The opening reception and dinner followed at the Kansas City Convention Center, overlooking the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Mayor Lucas welcomed the group with reflections on his own MICD experience (MICD 75 Charleston 2022, MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship 2023) and the power of design to uplift communities that need it most. Welcome remarks were also provided by Trinity Simons Wagner, Executive Director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, and Nan Whaley, Director of Membership for the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), former mayor of Dayton, OH, and past president of the USCM.

Over the two days that followed, robust discussions provided each mayor with concrete ideas for their projects as well as a new understanding of the design process. The mayors brought a range of projects to this session, seeking to address a wide array of urban challenges through improvements to the built environment. They took away ideas for designing “missing middle” infill housing, strategies for more effective and creative community engagement, and ideas for public space that builds on a neighborhood’s unique sense of place. The mayors also came away with a deeper understanding of their ability to lead public discourse in their cities, rising to their unique role as the city’s “chief convener.”

Participants also toured several transformative projects around Kansas City. Jon Stephens, President & CEO of Port KC, pointed out the site of a future park capping I-670 among a host of other redevelopment projects. Allison Howard, President of the KC Current, and Dani Welniak, Vice-President of Communications, led a hard-hat tour of the world’s first stadium purpose-built for a professional women’s sports team, part of a visionary effort to knit the city back together with its scenic riverfront.

“MICD has given me the tools I need to transform an underutilized, valuable, historic space. To be with creative minds in such an intimate and focused setting gave me the courage to speak my mind which resulted in so many more bold ideas.”
Riverside, CA Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson

Mayors were introduced to the many facets of the design process by the Resource Team, a group of multi-disciplinary experts whose breadth and depth of experience illustrated how design can generate creative solutions to complex urban problems.

“MICD provided an amazing platform for substantive & impactful collaboration. The case studies, the mayors, & subject matter experts were clearly very carefully curated in order to facilitate the most productive working sessions possible. We are very excited to keep our eyes on these sites & cities to bear witness to their inevitable success, under the careful & measured leadership of this group of elected officials.”
Carlos Augusto Garcia, Senior Architect at Brooks + Scarpa

Over the course of the session, the Resource Team shared a wide range of tools and best practices for planning and development projects, equipping the mayors to return to their communities and lead with design.


Quinton Lucas | Kansas City, MO (Host)
Kevin Hartke | Chandler, AZ
Barbara Buffaloe | Columbia, MO
Jerry Dyer | Fresno, CA
Mary-Ann Baldwin | Raleigh, NC
Patricia Lock Dawson | Riverside, CA
Malik Evans | Rochester, NY
G.T. Bynum | Tulsa, OK

Resource Team

Chris Calott | University of California, Berkeley | Berkeley, CA
Rebecca Cordes Chan | Friends of the Rail Park | Philadelphia, PA
Kjersti Duval | Duval Companies | Minneapolis, MN
Carlos Augusto Garcia | Brooks + Scarpa | Hawthorne, CA
Elizabeth Kennedy | EKLA | Brooklyn, NY
Matthew Kwatinetz | NYU Urban Lab | New York, NY
Cindy Zerger | Toole Design Group | Oakland, CA

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