By Steven Ujifusa
“Everyone should expect significant change,” Michael Nutter told about 200 architects and city planners assembled at the Center City Sheraton Monday. The Democratic candidate for mayor was reasserting that he intends to massively reform the building and planning communities in Philadelphia.
Nutter’s speech served as the kick-off event for the two-day Design on the Delaware symposium, sponsored by the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Playing to his audience, Nutter also quoted 19th century Chicago urban planner Daniel Burnham: “Make no small plans!”
Nutter made it clear that under his administration, he will use city government to “facilitate, but not dominate” the planning process. On the subject of energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly design, Nutter said, “Why not make Philadelphia the greenest city in the United States?” Following Chicago’s example, he suggested hiring a sustainable development coordinator.
Regarding the Delaware River, he said, “There is no reason why Philadelphia’s waterfront cannot compare to that of New York City, Boston, or Baltimore.” Regarding casinos, Nutter said that we would do the planning process a disservice to “bury our heads in the sand” and not plan for their construction. “It won’t break my heart if they aren’t built,” he said, “but not planning for two legitimate, state-sanctioned facilities will be a disservice to good planning.”
The possibility of reforming the city planning process was well-received by the assembled designers. When Nutter announced, “the planning process in Philadelphia will be less transactional and more about good planning,” the entire audience broke into spontaneous applause.
“He can’t be mayor too soon,” declared architect Jim Kise of Kise Straw & Kolodner.
“I personally really like him, and think he’s right on target about the Delaware waterfront,” said Phil Moffson, an architect with Array HFS. “He is very sensitive to what our own profession can do for city government.”
“He’s said everything he’s said here before,” said Danielle Kim, an architect at MGA Partners, “but I’m glad he sees how good planning and design can have a direct impact on crime and jobs creation.”