Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Urban Design Guidelines Lecture Series

25. October 2006 • Juliew
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From the American Institute of Architects: Huron Valley chapter

The year 2007 marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the American Institute of Architects, and to celebrate AIA National is encouraging all its chapters to donate time, money, and effort in improving their environments. In the case of our chapter, we are building on a growing interest in the development of the architecture of downtown Ann Arbor with a lecture series. The four seminars begin with a discussion of urban design, architecture, preservation, and the qualities of a well-designed urban environment. The second seminar talks about the planning tools used in constructing that environment, from form-based zoning to design guidelines. Seminars three and four focus on the application of design guidelines in government organization and presents other localities that have implemented similar rules.

This lecture series has been discussed for several months now, but no dates or topics had been set. Flyers are available online here and a more updated one here but I have not seen them distributed anywhere. Unfortunately, although design guidelines are of great interest to many in Ann Arbor, this series has not been publicized widely. It was not on the front page of the City web site or on the Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown page until after the first lecture had come and gone.

The second lecture is this Thursday, October 26 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the Downtown Library’s multi-purpose room. The topic is Planning Tools Needed for the Development of Design Guidelines for Urban Environments.



  1. It wasn’t until recently that the last two seminars were set for date and location. But now they are, we can get the word out! thank you for posting this here. I’ve posted all the seminars in the events calendar to the right as well. Please also note that light refreshments will be provided at each seminar.

    I am involved in planning the series and spoke at the first seminar, so if you have any questions you can shoot them my way.


       —KGS    Oct. 26 '06 - 11:38AM    #
  2. Thanks KGS, I was hoping you were involved in this and could comment. Is there any information (agenda, minutes, documentation, podcast, etc.) from the first meeting? That seemed like one that would be of more general interest. This second one sounds more geared toward architects.


       —Juliew    Oct. 26 '06 - 03:52PM    #
  3. The program was videotaped, and should be on the community cable chanel rotation soon. The library has also had DVDs available from some other presentations, so maybe this series will be available in that fashion?

    There is also supposedly a group blog that was going to be hosting some information from the program (like the questions that didn’t get answered in the available time). I don’t have the URL for it, but hopefully KGS or someone else can provide that.


       —cornellbox    Oct. 26 '06 - 07:06PM    #
  4. We don’t have the handouts online yet, though they will be posted here when they’re ready: http://hvaiaadvocacy.typepad.com/ As Cornellbox says, the seminars were/will be taped by CTN and shown there. I’ll post a replay schedule for the first seminar tomorrow.

    As for the seminar tonight, Julie, I hope you and others will attend. The seminars are directed at non-professionals in the hopes of getting us all on the same page, ready to talk about these issues in the city-run workshops early next year. The city seems intent on setting “design guidelines”, but the discussion tonight will be about how there are actually many different ways to accomplish some if not all of the goals in improving the design of our downtown.


       —KGS    Oct. 26 '06 - 08:48PM    #
  5. Our blog owner has been busy, and now the handouts from the first two seminars as well as the updated poster are all there. :-)


       —KGS    Oct. 26 '06 - 09:13PM    #
  6. Unfortunately, I can’t attend tonight due to a previous commitment, but I’m very happy to see the lectures/seminars will be replayed and I am planning to go to the last two!


       —Juliew    Oct. 26 '06 - 09:31PM    #
  7. Here is the CitiTV schedule:

    Seminar #1 10/19/06
    Premiere: Sunday, Oct. 29th at 8:00pm
    Replays: Thursday, Nov. 2nd at 8:00pm; Tuesday, Nov. 7th at 11:30am; Thursday, Nov. 9th at 1:00pm; Saturday, Nov. 11th at 2:30pm; Friday, Dec. 1st at 12:00pm

    Seminar #2 10/26/06
    Premiere: Sunday, Nov. 5th at 8:00pm
    Replays: Tuesday, Nov. 7th at 1:00pm; Thursday, Nov. 9th at 8:00pm; Sunday, Nov. 12th at 4:00pm; Friday, Dec. 1st at 1:30pm

    Seminar #3 11/16/06
    Premiere: Monday, Nov. 27th at 7:00pm
    Replays: Tuesday, Nov. 28th at 12:00pm; Thursday, Nov. 30th at 8:00pm; Friday, Dec. 1st at 3:30pm

    Seminar #4 11/29/06
    Premiere: Sunday, Dec. 3rd at 8:00pm
    Replays: Tuesday, Dec. 5th at 11:00am; Wednesday, Dec. 6th at 3:00pm; Thursday, Dec. 7th at 8:00pm

    All seminars will be played back-to-back on Saturday, Dec. 9th starting at 1:00 pm.


       —KGS    Nov. 7 '06 - 04:37PM    #
  8. The last of this lecture series is tonight:

    Design Guidelines: Case Studies
    7 – 9 p.m., Wednesday, November 29, 2006
    UM Michigan League Ballroom
    This seminar will be a hands-on workshop with Bruce Race, FAIA, AICP, a specialist in community-based urban design and design guidelines. The seminar will be interactive and focus on the goals of design guidelines and their outcomes. Case studies will be included. Mr. Race was born in Ann Arbor, is a registered architect in the state of California, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

    As a late comment on the previous session: it was fascinating. Representatives from Boulder, Kalamazoo, and Birmingham discussed the pros and cons of their implemented guidelines. They showed the different directions each city choose, how much public input they have (Boulder now requires a neighborhood meeting before any designs have been drawn up, Kalamazoo has no formal public input at all), how the guidelines are implemented, and the changes that have occurred because of the guidelines. A question came out (unfortunately after the camera stopped rolling) about the input of the City Council in each city. None of the cities involved their City Council in any primary building considerations! All of them had a planning group and city staff who made all building recommendations. It was only if something was bumped up for review that City Council even saw it and that was such a rare occurrence that the three representatives could only come up with a very few instances. This is such a huge difference from Ann Arbor that everyone was stunned. Talk about shortening the building process!


       —Juliew    Nov. 29 '06 - 08:41PM    #