Blueprint for Better Cities: 2018 AIA Conference in Review


CMA at the American Institute of Architects Annual Conference on Architecture

In June, six of the Curtis Miner Architecture (CMA) team members: Jay Taggart, Gerrit Timmerman, Curtis Miner, Mike Anderson, Curtis Livingston, and Kurt Mather, flew to New York City to attend this year’s AIA National Conference, Blueprint for Better Cities. This focus of the conference was on making a difference in your own community. Because architects are central to making cities both large and small, the classes, workshops, and tours focused on thinking critically about how their designs can improve human and environmental health and resilience.

One outing took participants by boat on a tour of lower Manhattan, exploring several different districts and their designs, and reviewing four principles critical to dense urban areas.

  • First, residential density is important. Among the numerous high-rise buildings of New York City, many are residential. Without housing, there would be no sense of ownership in a district; the office district, for instance, would become a ghost town during off hours.

West Greenwich Village

  • Second, recreation must be coupled with residential. This can include destinations, attractions and activities for residents and visitors alike and can take many different forms, such as restaurants, retail, museums, and parks.

Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker Street

  • Third, and similar to recreation, there must be green spaces, such as bike paths and parks. There should be plenty of greenery. These are spots that feed the soul and get people outside.

Central Park

  • Finally, these communities and districts should be walkable. A resident or visitor should be able to walk to the recreation and green space areas, buy groceries, and take mass transit.

Central Park – Bethesda Fountain

In exploring these four principles, the tour, led by architects and historians, provided insight into neighborhood and community development.

“As I look at where Salt Lake City and Utah are in their development of cities, I was looking for experiences that would help me understand the essence of a city,” says Gerrit Timmerman, CMA Principal who attended the tour. “I look to take some of those principles of good design and see how they could apply to our State and our projects.”


Architectural model and display of the new Hudson Yard Development in Manhattan

The conference experience provided an ideal opportunity for our Utah architects to learn from a much bigger community of our peers, create new experiences together, and discover New York City’s unique architecture and culture.


View from the Observation Deck of the Freedom Tower looking south-east towards Brooklyn