Session Descriptions


Designing Equity

Kofi Boone, ASLA | NC State Design Dept. of Landscape Architecture

Accelerating growth in cities that are also the homes of vulnerable populations have prompted many to take stock of the roles designers and planners play to enable equitable development. Designers and planners are increasingly challenged with the need to better understand and more effectively work with people very different from themselves. Additionally, there is increasing demand by communities for designers and planners to address the inequitable gaps impacting life chances based on racial, class, and gender disparities. This presentation will highlight concepts, strategies, and case studies that frame and implement equitable design at multiple scales. with an emphasis on social equity challenges in affecting North Carolina communities.

Transit Deserts: The Landscape of Limited Access and Socioeconomic Inequality

Dr. Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, PLA | DesignJones LLC
This talk will focus on Transit Deserts, places of limited transit access, but increasing demand brought on by population shifts. Economic, transportation, and housing policies, and their contribution to the creation of transit deserts will be theorized. The impact the formation of these places have on quality of life, and access to employment and services will also be discussed. Finally, policy and physical planning solutions, and the ways people have adapted will be presented.

The Spirit of Detroit: Pursuing an Equitable and Inclusive Recovery

R. Steven Lewis, FAIA | City of Detroit Planning and Development
As populations continue to move from rural areas into cities, the tension between free-market forces and basic humanistic responsibility too often results in gentrification and displacement of long-time residents whose identities are strongly tied to their neighborhoods. Detroit is committed to spreading its current recovery across all neighborhoods and all communities, empowering people by meeting them where they are. While job creation and training, public safety and reliable services, and public education rank among the City’s top priorities, the role of planning and urban design, including robust community engagement, is not far behind. Detroit’s Planning & Development Department, under the leadership of Maurice D. Cox, is providing visionary leadership at this unique moment in the City’s history. Detroit’s emergence from bankruptcy and subsequent oversight by an Emergency Manager occurred a little more than three years ago, yet the what the City has been able to accomplish in that short span of time is nothing short of miraculous. Or could it be that when government, residents, and stakeholders embrace a vision where the whole (Detroit) is so much greater than the sum of its discrete individual parts, that an equitable and inclusive recovery is indeed possible?

Planning for Equity

Mitchell Silver, FAICP, Hon. AIA | New York City Department of Parks
Parks and public spaces are vital to the livability of cities. As places urbanize and demographics shift, parks and public spaces are gaining greater important as places for physical health, mental health and social interaction. New York City has embarked on a new strategy to address the future of parks by redefining the role of public space in the 21st century through equity, planning and place making.

Urban Remembrance

Zena Howard, FAIA, LEED AP| Perkins + Will
Ms. Howard will present projects of varying scale and locations as case studies demonstrating how the removal or improvement of decades-old, crumbling infrastructure is now giving way to revitalization, including the recognition of forgotten or neglected community assets. Ms. Howard is helping to rethink these projects for communities that have historically been denied a voice in the design and decision-making process. Her work includes spearheading an effort to create a new Black Los Angeles monument and outdoor art museum on Crenshaw Boulevard; reimagining the razed Brooklyn neighborhood in the heart of uptown Charlotte with the planning and design of a 17-acre New Brooklyn Village development which celebrates the community’s original, rich history; the City of Vancouver Hogan’s Alley initiative; and the City of Greenville’s Town Common Sycamore Hill project. Zena is helping these clients envision and create cultural destinations that will celebrate the history and context of these formerly-displaced communities.


Reaction | Action

Kofi Boone, Mitchell Silver, Mickey Fearn, Jackie Turner
This panel explores the the design and planning solutions presented by keynote speakers and case study presenters offered throughout the day, gauging reaction to the issues presented and exploring ways to move forward in our own communities. What are the policy, engagement and design methods that have proven most successful to reclaiming disrupted communities? How can we learn from presented examples to continue this work? What specific challenges do we face here in the Triangle and beyond and what strategies will best work in our own communities to develop equitable neighborhoods. (Audience participation highly encouraged.)



Facilitator: Rodney Swink, FASLA |Chancellor Ballroom


Bringing a City Beautiful Era Urban Park Into the 21st Century: The Master Plan for Riverside Regional Park

Speaker: John Jackson Jackson, Principal
John Jackson is the partner in charge of the landscape architecture, planning and urban design studio for RATIO, a multidisciplinary design firm with offices in Indianapolis, Chicago, Raleigh and Champaign. John leads a wide range of planning and urban design projects but has focused his 28 year practice on park planning and design. John’s recent projects include the 1500-acre Allerton Park Master Plan in Monticello, Illinois, Federal Hill Commons in Noblesville, Indiana and the 862-acre Riverside Regional Park Master Plan in Indianapolis.

Riverside Regional Park is the second largest public space in Indianapolis. The 862-acre park was the crown jewel of the parks system in Indianapolis at the dawn of the 20st century. By the dawn of the 21st century, development pressures, disinvestment, changing trends, budget challenges and associated community improvement initiatives resulted in a need for a master plan. The session will review the history of the park, the master planning process, and the outcomes. Special focus will be given to the robust public engagement plan, where it succeeded, and where the team would make changes in hindsight.

Walnut Creek Wetland Park

Speaker: John Hykes, Senior Design Associate, Alta Planning + Design
John specializes in landscape architecture with an emphasis on parks, streetscape master planning, traffic calming, and bicycle/pedestrian improvements in the public realm. Since receiving his Masters of Landscape Architecture from University of California, Berkeley (UCB) in 2001, John has devoted his career to working on public projects that are informed by the community, and developing strong client relationships through effective facilitation and consensus building. With over 15 years of professional experience he brings extensive experience in both urban design, landscape architecture and community planning. John is able to work at a range of scales and clearly understands the opportunities and constraints for complex sites, urban environments and rural communities. John focuses on public sector design work involving significant community participation. He especially enjoys integrating public input into his designs and thrives on the opportunity to take community-driven ideas from concept to construction.

Alta Planning & Design recently worked with the City of Raleigh on the Walnut Creek Wetland Park located southeast of downtown. The park is comprised of marsh forest landscapes and floodplain of Walnut Creek. Walnut Creek Wetland Park is a tremendous asset, providing a community hub for the traditionally underserved African American neighborhoods of Rochester Heights and Biltmore Hills Neighborhoods, and an educational resource for local and regional educators. The park contains a number of important natural communities characterized by vegetation composition and appearance, wildlife, hydrology, soils and other abiotic factors.
The design process included a diverse stakeholder group that has focused on the area and project for over two decades. The team included members from NCSU and the Partners for Environmental Justice (PEJ), that looked closely at the community and social equity issues surrounding the history of the site, impacts of upstream development and stormwater issues related to frequent flooding. The presentation will focus on the sensitivity surrounding the community and the benefits of the community center and the future of the Southeast Raleigh neighborhoods.


Facilitator: Graham Smith, ASLA | University A/B Ballroom


Empowering Communities: a decade of grass-roots, open space planning brings social and environmental justice to the Cleveland Flats

Speaker: Scott Cataffa, Principal, CMG Landscape Architecture
Scott Cataffa’s passion is improving the well-being of cities and maximizing the social and ecological benefit of marginalized urban open spaces for marginalized communities. Scott’s work focuses on social, ecological, and cultural connectivity and an understanding of place through the lens of past and present culture. He sees design as a tool to engage and to empower diverse users in shaping their built environment, and his project designs demonstrate the convergence of these threads. In his work on Mint Plaza and Dogpatch Arts Plaza he has transformed public rights-of-way from vehicle spaces to community spaces. He is currently designing a 4-acre park below a freeway ramp in downtown San Francisco; a new urban waterfront park in Cleveland that provides open space and recreational opportunities to the adjacent, underserved neighborhoods; and a new campus for the United Auburn Indian Community. Inspired by the tribe’s history of managing the landscape, the campus design creates outdoor learning environments where students can re-engage with these cultural traditions.

For decades, Cleveland’s neighborhoods have been disconnected from their waterfronts, and their waterways have been degraded by pollution and industrial use. The Cuyahoga River, famous for combusting throughout its industrial history is bound by bluffs to the east and west and has historically divided communities. In the 1930s, the Cleveland Flats became home to Lakeview Terrace, a pioneering development for urban affordable housing. Through the 1960s and 70s, affordable housing offerings expanded, but although these towers offered spectacular views of the downtown skyline and Lake Erie, they were also contiguous with polluting industrial facilities along the river, disconnecting them from open space and the waterfront.

Over the past decade, CMG Landscape Architecture has been working with these neighbors, local, grass-roots organizations, and city officials to transform barriers into connections. Through a series of conversations, neighbors shared their values, concerns, and vision for the future of their community. CMG integrated their ideas into a network of trails and open spaces that connect these neighborhoods with each other, with the city, and with the region. Along these trails, CMG has also developed designs for neighborhood waterfront parks, offering much-needed open space amenities within the historic industrial fabric. These parks provide access to the river and lake shores; interpret the rich cultural and industrial histories; improve water quality and habitat; and preserve prime real estate for public benefit. Together, access to thoughtfully designed open spaces, improved connectivity, and innovative partnerships will help to ameliorate past social and environmental injustices and protect these vulnerable communities from future redevelopment pressures and risk of displacement.

Durham’s Once + Future Belt Line: Connecting Communities and Modes for a Greener Bull City

Speaker: Jake Petrosky, Bicycle/Pedestrian and Land Use Planner at Stewart
Jake has 14 years of experience in transportation planning, land use and comprehensive plans, small area plans, corridor studies, parks, greenways and environmental planning. He believes in data-driven, design-oriented planning and has a professional and personal interest in municipal and regional bicycle, pedestrian, and greenway systems and how they can improve mobility and quality of life. Jake holds a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Florida and a Bachelor of Community & Regional Planning from Appalachian State and is a certified planner.

Dale McKeel, City of Durham’s and the Durham/Chapel Hill/Carrboro MPO’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator
David has over 25 years of experience in the transportation planning field. Dale manages the City’s bike/ped commission and works with local developers, agencies, and advocacy groups works day in and day out to improve the streets around Durham for cyclists and pedestrians. An alumnus of the University of Chapel Hill, Dale previously served as the Executive Director of Scenic North Carolina and as transportation planner for the Town of Carrboro.

Built in the 1890s to bypass congestion and fees on the main rail line, the Durham Belt Line served tobacco and garment industries in the City for a century. But since the closure of those factories and the line, the idea of a transforming an old, overgrown railroad into a rail trail has been inspired by the success of similar trails around the country and Durham’s emerging innovation district. The trail is envisioned as a linear park and “green” spine—linking neighborhoods and City greenways to Downtown and three transit hubs while providing a destination in itself with pocket parks and plazas throughout. This project looks to elaborate on the historic qualities of the indigenous landscapes found in the region while promoting plant and animal diversity. Best management practices are planned along the route to mitigate stormwater impacts through designed systems and bioremediation while advanced technology will help reduce energy requirements, improve lighting standards for dark sky initiatives, and create mobile working environments throughout the greenway. Innovative engagement activities have yielded a vision for the trail that balances the needs of recreational and utilitarian users as well as the amenities desired by visitors, businesses and adjacent neighborhoods.
Facilitator: Mary-Ann BaldwinCongressional Ballroom


A Commitment to Southeast Raleigh: Community Building through Social Infrastructure

Speaker: Brian Richards, RLA, LEED AP ND, Senior Planner and Landscape Architect, WithersRavenel
Brian Richards is a licensed landscape architect and urban designer with extensive experience in both the planning and built environments. He serves as a project manager and senior planner and landscape architect with WithersRavenel in their downtown Raleigh office. Prior to relocating to Raleigh, Mr. Richards practiced in Washington, DC where he worked on large scale master planning and mixed-use urban infill development projects throughout the U.S. and internationally. During his 15+ year career, his professional work has focused on the planning and design of the public realm with an expertise in the design and implementation of urban streetscapes and green infrastructure systems. Mr. Richards has a passion for exploring ways in which to leverage design to further engage the end user and build social equity. His past projects include the DC United Soccer Stadium Public Realm Design, the renovation of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the Buzzard Point Framework Plan in Washington, DC. Current projects include the Southeast Raleigh YMCA Master Plan, Smokey Hollow Streetscape Design in Raleigh, and the Carolina Springs Mixed-Use Master Plan in Holly Springs.

Speaker #2: Tim Carr, CFM, LEED AP OM, Senior Vice President of Property, Facilities, & Risk Management, YMCA of the Triangle Area, Inc.
Tim Carr serves the Triangle community as Senior Vice President, Property, Facilities, and Risk Management for the YMCA of the Triangle Area. This is a role created through reorganization in 2015 of the Association responsible for 18 YMCA campuses and three overnight camps in seven North Carolina counties. Tim leads a team of regional facility professionals and design/construction specialists responsible for maintaining existing facilities and development of new locations in communities where YMCA programs are desired. Prior to this role, Tim was a Vice President with Heery International, a design and management services company providing architectural, engineering and construction management services to corporate, education, and government clients throughout the Carolinas. As an Architectural Engineer, and Program Manager, he served in many project management and leadership roles over a period of 30+ years while with Heery in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and in the Triangle.

Speaker #3: Jon Mills, Senior Vice President, YMCA of the Tirangle Area, Inc.
Jon Mills grew up in Raleigh, NC and currently serves as Sr. Regional VP of the YMCA of the Triangle. He specifically oversees the Central portion of the Triangle Area focusing on emerging communities. In these communities he is helping build new YMCA facilities and programs through volunteer and fund development, hiring and coaching staff and managing projects through design, construction and operations. He received his undergraduate degree from UNC- Chapel Hill and attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Jon has been married for sixteen years and has three children. His professional experience started as an analyst for First Union Bank and transitioned into the non-profit arena. For over 17 years, he has served in roles ranging from pastoring a church in Dublin, Ireland to executive non-profit leadership positions with Big Brothers Big Sisters and thirteen years with the YMCA of the Triangle. Jon currently serves on the board of SER Promise, New Bern Avenue Corridor Alliance and his church.

Speaker #4: Kia Baker, Executive Director, Southeast Raleigh Promise
Kia Baker is a native of Southeast Raleigh, North Carolina and currently serves as Executive Director for Southeast Raleigh Promise, Inc. After graduating from Hampton University in Virginia, Kia returned to the Triangle and began working as a Community Organizer in Hillsborough, NC, where her passion to work for social change began to grow. She has over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector with organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Public Allies, and most recently, served as the Chief of Food Recovery & Distribution at a Feeding America food bank, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Kia currently serves on the boards of Carolina Common Enterprise, Fertile Ground Food Cooperative as Vice-Chair, and the Wake County Population Health Task Force as the Vulnerable Communities Co-Chair.

Please join us as we explore how YMCA of the Triangle has continued its commitment for Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility with the development of a new mixed-use community in Southeast Raleigh. The Triangle is one of the fastest growing regions in the country, yet Raleigh ranks low among US cities for economic mobility. Southeast Raleigh has long been an area where this reality has been felt, and to many, an area of the city that has been undervalued for its contribution to the cultural and economic success of the city. The YMCA of the Triangle recognizes the importance of Southeast Raleigh and the value of investing in quality infrastructure within the community as foundation for upward mobility. In a partnership with Purpose-Built Communities, the Southeast Raleigh Promise, and Wake County Public Schools, the YMCA of the Triangle is working to establish a community hub including a full-service YMCA facility, a public elementary school, +/- 120 affordable housing units, and community serving commercial. This case study looks at the role equitable access to quality social infrastructure can play breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty and specifically how public-private partnerships can be leveraged in service to community health.

Charlotte’s North End Smart District: Lessons of Racial Equity in Community Engagement

Speaker: Rachel Stark, Principal Planner + Urban Designer, Charlotte Urban Design
Rachel Mukai Stark is a professional landscape architect with 10 years of experience in Urban Design. She is a NCSU Master’s of Landscape Architecture graduate and credits her alma mater for a strong foundation in community engagement and planning skills. Rachel is currently a Principal Planner for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department working in the Urban Design division as a disrupter to the status quo to achieve equity and social justice. She is the strategy developer and project manager for the cross-disciplinary team establishing the North End Smart District. Her past experience includes working for the Raleigh Urban Design Center, GAPP Architects + Urban Designers in Cape Town, South Africa, and helping start the Urbanagami International Design Cooperative. Her speaking engagements include the Montreal World Design Summit, National League of Cities, Eco-Districts Summit Atlanta, NCASLA, and NCAPA conferences.

The vision of the North End Smart District is to improve public services and infrastructure through data, technology, and innovative collaborations for a great quality of life for the current community. In the words of one community leader, “Create a fuss-free life where basic amenities reflect that of other parts of Charlotte and folks living here have an opportunity to enter the new technology workforce the City is hoping to attract to this area.” In this presentation we will share a video that was created in collaboration with the community to illustrate the vision. We will define smart cities and how we are using its momentum to innovate in community engagement and City services. Data shows racial disparity and how the needle has not moved much. We will dig in to the history of the area and how it plays out now in distrust between the community and service providers and share the steps we are taking to establish a common understanding and build strong relationships. Our team is exploring new methodologies for engagement that encourages early input and results in community-guided shifts in City work and immediate action.


Facilitator: George Stanziale, ASLA | State Ballroom (Main)


Belmont – The Rise, Decline, and Revitalization of Charlotte’s 1st Working Class Neighborhood

Speaker: Lorna Allen, ASLA, PLA, Principal Planner | Urban Designer, Charlotte Urban Design
Lorna Allen, a native of North Carolina, is an urban designer with Charlotte Urban Design. A licensed landscape architect, Lorna has worked in both the public and private sectors across the country. Her experience ranges from master planning nationally for higher education clients, to landscape master plans for National Historic Registered landmarks such as the General Motors Research and Development campus. Lorna has worked on a variety of planning projects in Charlotte. She provides experience with tactical urbanism and has extensive experience with community input and engagement. Lorna holds a BS in Horticulture and a Master of Landscape Architecture from NC State University. She was recently selected as a 2017 8 80 Cities Emerging City Champion for her Social Senior Project which aims to provide a link between older adults and the community in which they live. Lorna is highly engaged in the Charlotte community and serves the Belmont Community Association as a director and co-chairs the Land Use Committee.

North of Charlotte’s Uptown is the Belmont neighborhood, a mill village developed in the late 1800’s and comprised of a former cotton mill, humble bungalows and small commercial buildings. Inner-ring neighborhoods like Belmont have lingering relics of days gone by. Pressures from surrounding established neighborhoods, proximity to Uptown and future light rail, and increasing land values have put Belmont at risk for losing irreplaceable neighborhood character and displacement of long-term residents. This presentation will examine a community’s grassroots effort to mitigate the adverse impacts of gentrification and minimize displacement through a collaborative, inclusive approach to identifying opportunities and trade-offs of impending development. By utilizing tactical urbanism and placemaking tools, the community has worked to identify, test, and study a variety of development concepts, gauge support, and build trust through an equitable and transparent engagement process.

Oberlin Rising, A Different Kind of Memorial

Speaker: Thomas Sayre, Artist + Principal, Clearscapes
Thomas Sayre grew up in Washington, D. C. in the shadow of the Washington Cathedral. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a Morehead Scholarship and majored in English and studio art. Thomas was a Michigan Fellow with a 3- year Ford Foundation sculpture grant then he attended the MFA Program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. In the 1980s, Mr. Sayre founded Clearscapes along with architect, Steve Schuster. Through Clearscapes, Sayre has completed 50+ public national and international projects. Thomas is lucky to be married to Joan-Ellen Deck whom he met while touring as a professional rock musician. Thomas’ recent awards include the 2012 NC Award for Fine Arts and received an honorary doctorate from NC State University in the Spring of 2014. A documentary by Minnow Media entitled Earthcaster has been created and was recently shown on PBS about the work of Thomas Sayre.

We will look at the improbable story of how a public art/pocket park project came to mark the fading presence of the Oberlin community. Beginning in the 1870s as a vibrant, thriving community of freed slaves and their families, Oberlin has been diminished by the depression, opportunistic developers, the building of Wade Avenue, and now significant upper-middle class housing development. Named by consensus of a broad group from the community, Oberlin Rising, marks this important community and tells some of its potent history.


Facilitator: Michael Stevenson, FAIA | University C Ballroom


Addressing Social Equity and Climate Resilience with the Brooklyn-Queens Connector

Speaker: Daniel Baer, Senior VP and National Planning Lead, WSP
Daniel Baer AICP is a Senior Vice President and National Planning Lead for WSP, a nationally and internationally recognized Planning and Design consulting firm. With 32 years of consulting and project management experience, Dan has worked on some of the largest and most complex transportation and land development initiatives throughout the country. He is presently managing the development of alternatives to replace the busiest bus terminal in the world, located in New York City, and was a project manager for the preparation of an alternatives analysis for a new streetcar in NYC. He also managed the development of the master plan and design guidelines for the construction of over 12 million square feet of mixed use development over an active rail yard on the west side of Manhattan, NY. Mr. Baer is a graduate of Pomona College, and NYU for his Master’s and Doctoral studies. He is also the former Mayor of the Township of Millburn in NJ.

The proposed BQX transit system would provide a new service to meet evolving travel demand patterns along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront, and to improve transit access to areas that are underserved by existing transit. With nearly 150,000 low-income residents, the corridor contains a large number of transit-dependent residents who require transit options. Many important nodes of activity are located outside a reasonable walking distance of fixed transit. The corridor also continues to evolve with new residences and jobs, thereby generating different demands and new travel patterns. Key elements in the study are social equity and climate resiliency. The project had three primary goals: (1) Increase connectivity and provide for easier, safer, and faster transit service; (2) Enhance economic development and preserve community character, including improved streetscapes and neighborhoods amenities; and (3) Provide sustainable solutions and resilient transit options, specifically provide a transit system that is resilient against climate change and sea level rise.

Better Block & Five Points Plaza: How to Use Tactical Urbanism as a Tool for Designing More Equitable Capital Improvement Projects

Speaker: Grant Meacci, Urban Design Program Manager & Urban Designer – Charlotte Urban Design
With over twenty years of design and planning experience, Grant Meacci has led a wide variety of transformative projects in both the public and private sector. In addition to that body of work, he has helped to develop and direct two non-profit organizations, which provide pro bono design, planning and service projects throughout the United States. His career has focused on designing projects that create vibrant places, enhance quality of life, and foster community.

The presentation on Five Points Plaza will be focused on using tactical urbanism and the Better Block project to improve the CIP Planning Process to ensure a final design that more fully reflects the identity and culture of its surrounding community. The presentation will give a background of the project including the protected intersection design, the CIP Planning Process in Charlotte, the Programming Model for the intersection plaza, the Better Block Project at Five Points, the introduction of transit in the corridor, and how art, placemaking, and community is taking a front seat in creating a more equitable and inclusive planning process. Neighborhood leaders and citizens have had a direct influence on a capital improvement project far greater than participation in a workshop or survey. It truly places the power of influence with the people for whom the project is being built.