Mayors' Institute on City Design

University of South Florida Hosts the Mayors’ Institute on City Design in Tampa, FL

The Florida Center for Community Design and Research (FCCDR) at the University of South Florida (USF) hosted a special session of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design in Tampa, FL on November 8-10, 2023.

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 architecture, landscape architecture, arts and culture, transportation, urban planning, and real estate development joined the mayors for two and a half days of discussions, offering pragmatic advice for each mayor’s project.

The mayors brought a range of projects to this session, seeking to address a wide array of challenges through improvements to the built environment. They took away processes for the equitable revitalization of commercial corridors, ideas for strengthening civic and cultural centers, and strategies for engaging the community and activating public spaces. The mayors also came away with a deeper understanding of their ability to lead civic discourse in their cities, rising to their unique role as the city’s “chief convener.”

Robust discussions provided each mayor with concrete ideas for their projects as well as a new understanding of the design and development process.

“MICD allowed me the opportunity to get expert advice and to think big about the future of my city. The experience was invaluable not just for my case study but also in providing new perspectives and ideas I will use to help my entire city succeed and grow.”
Mayor Melanie Kebler | Bend, OR

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 is] a thought-provoking experience that always helps generate ideas that make our built environment a better place for people.
Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA | Principal, Brooks + Scarpa

The session began with a tour of the city by water taxi, led by Chris Ahern, Senior Project Manager at GHD, and Stephen Benson, Planning Director for the City of Tampa, showcasing recent improvements to Tampa’s riverfront and the development boom that has followed public investment. Over the opening reception and dinner that followed, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor welcomed the group with reflections on her city’s development and the lasting impacts of her participation in MICD 75 Charleston in 2022. Welcome remarks also came from Taryn Sabia, Assistant Dean for Research, Florida Center for Community Design + Research at USF; Eric Eisenberg, Senior Vice President of University Community Partnerships at USF; and Trinity Simons Wagner, Executive Director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design.

While in Tampa, the group explored the Tampa Riverwalk, which draws over 100,000 visitors a month to its 2.6 miles of seamless pedestrian and bicycle connections and iconic public spaces. Participants also toured Armature Works Public Market, a vibrant mixed-use hub that once housed the city’s streetcar repair and storage facilities. The group also traveled by TECO Streetcar, which now sees the second-highest ridership in the country since it began bringing back the city’s original system in 2002. Last, participants toured historic Ybor City, once known as the Cigar Capital of the World, and the J.C. Newman Cigar Factory, which preserves that history and is sparking a renaissance nearby.

The Florida Center for Community Design and Research (FCCDR) is located within the School of Architecture & Community Design (SACD) at USF. It was founded in 1986 as a statewide research center to address urban and regional problems related to both natural and built environments and to provide design expertise, technical assistance, and applied research to assist Florida’s growing communities. The FCCDR has worked with over 100 communities on more than 150 projects.

MICD is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, MICD has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities. Throughout this Special Session, participants explored a wide range of tools and strategies for planning and development projects, equipping the mayors to return to their communities and lead with design.


Jane Castor | Tampa, FL (Host)
Matt Tuerk | Allentown, PA
Melanie Kebler | Bend, OR
Anne Burt | Woodbury, MN
Sharetta Smith | Lima, OH
Sangeetha Rayapati | Moline, IL
Ryan Sorenson | Sheboygan, WI
Heidi Lueb | Tigard, OR

Resource Team

Cézanne Charles | rootoftwo, Detroit, MI
JoAnne Fiebe | Fairfax County, VA
Sarah Gamble | University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Jair Lynch | Jair Lynch Real Estate, Washington, DC
Ricky Peterika | Dark Moss, Tampa, FL
Lawrence Scarpa | Brooks + Scarpa Architects, Hawthorne, CA
Sam Zimbabwe | Kimley-Horn, Seattle, WA

View event photos +

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