AMES, Iowa — The Iowa State University College of Design, in partnership with the City of Des Moines, will host a session of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design July 27-29 in Des Moines.

The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors. The institute holds multiple technical assistance workshops throughout the country each year to help mayors find solutions to the most critical planning and design challenges facing their cities.

Sessions are organized around case-study projects: each mayor presents a project from their community and receives feedback from other mayors and a resource team of multidisciplinary design and development professionals. The interchange is intended to spark debate, generate new ideas and inspire creative thinking.


MICD Des Moines 2022 will include mayors from seven communities:

  • Frank Cownie, Des Moines (host)
  • Robin Mouton, Beaumont, Texas
  • Lacey Beaty, Beaverton, Oregon
  • Aaron Brockett, Boulder, Colorado
  • Rob Green, Cedar Falls
  • Scott Conger, Jackson, Tennessee
  • Wayne Messam, Miramar, Florida


Resource team members include:

  • Steven Lewis, urban design principal, ZGF Architects, Los Angeles
  • Paul Mankins, principal, Substance Architecture, Des Moines
  • Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean and professor, ISU College of Design, Ames
  • Ciara Schlichting, director of operations, Toole Design, Minneapolis
  • Lisa Tziona Switkin, senior principal, Field Operations, New York City
  • Donald Young, founder and principal, D.R. Young Associates, San Rafael, California


Members of the leadership team organizing MICD Des Moines 2022 are:

  • Trinity Simons, executive director, Mayors’ Institute on City Design
  • Grace Oran, program manager, Mayors’ Institute on City Design
  • Julie Robison, program manager, Institute for Design Research and Outreach, ISU College of Design, and community and economic development specialist, ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development
  • Carl Rogers, chair, Department of Landscape Architecture, ISU College of Design
  • Matt Anderson, deputy city manager, City of Des Moines


The event will begin with a City of Des Moines-led tour highlighting public-private partnerships and the role of the riverfront in revitalization. The two-day workshop will focus on projects related to riverfront revitalization and development, transit-oriented development, food-hub development and mixed-use development.

“The MICD workshop allows us to bring in top design talent from across the U.S. and Iowa and, working hand-in-hand with ISU’s design team, create an opportunity for selected mayors to engage in problem solving around complex community planning and design issues,” Robison said.

“As part of our land-grant university’s extension and outreach mission, we hope to disseminate lessons learned to Iowa-based mayors and communities because of this work.”

The ISU College of Design was competitively selected from among top U.S. design institutions to serve as host of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design in partnership with the City of Des Moines. Initially announced in early 2020, the workshop was delayed twice during the pandemic.

In 2021, the MICD awarded funding for the College of Design to organize two highly successful virtual events on the topic of “Engaging Youth to Promote Justice and Equity through Planning and Design,” also delivered in collaboration with the City of Des Moines. With additional support from the Office of the Vice President for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the partners are pleased to be able to host MICD Des Moines 2022 in person later this month.


Julie Robison, MICD Des Moines 2022 Co-Project Manager and IDRO Program Manager, College of Design, jrobison@iastate.edu
Saylor Upah, Event Planner, College of Design, upahsay@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Communications Director, College of Design, hsauer@iastate.edu