The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded $5 million to 33 municipal projects submitted as part of the Knight Cities Challenge.
The challenge attracted some 4,500 submissions. The 33 winners proposed a host of ideas, from providing a space for Philadelphians to develop city service solutions through a traveling city design lab to further enlivening the Detroit waterfront by creating an inviting, urban beach along the city’s Atwater Street, from replacing an inoperative freeway in Akron with a lush forest and public space to connect two physically and socially isolated neighborhoods to reimagining Columbia, South Carolina’s State House as a front porch for all.
Winning projects are based in 19 of the 26 communities where Knight invests including: Aberdeen, South Dakota; Akron, Ohio; Biloxi, Mississippi; Bradenton, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit; Duluth, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Lexington, Kentucky; Macon, Georgia; Miami; Milledgeville, Georgia; Palm Beach County, Florida; Philadelphia; St. Paul, Minnesota; San Jose, California; Wichita, Kansas.
Notably, San Jose, California, which had two winning projects, will use one of its awards to hire someone new to city government. San Jose will hire Tim Rood, the city’s first Principal City Designer, to lead an interdisciplinary team to ensure the transformative potential for urban design in the Diridon Station area. In addition to leading the urban planning process for the downtown, Rood will provide interdepartmental leadership on design issues across San José’s proposed urban villages and other growth areas. He will also help advance a citywide “Public Life” program, a sustained effort to improve the quality, use, and connectivity of public spaces and create a welcoming and positive urban environment.
Prior to being hired into this role, Rood was a principal of the Oakland-based firm, Community Design + Architecture, where he led multidisciplinary teams on major planning projects for MTC, BART, VTA, and several municipal agencies.