PRINCIPAL AND CO-FOUNDER
PRINCIPAL AND CO-FOUNDER
A visionary, internationally recognized urban planner and developer, Andy began drawing plans of cities by the time he was 10. Andy served as Director of Washington, DC’s Office of Planning where he created and directed the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative which framed Washington’s iconic neighborhoods including the Wharf, and The Ballpark District. Andy was most recently CEO of the Olympic Park Legacy Company in London where he led the transformation of the 500-acre London 2012 Olympic Park – the largest regeneration project in the United Kingdom. Andy also serves at MIT as a Senior Advisor to the Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning where he works on international initiatives and will be teaching a course on “city building”. He also serves on boards in Washington DC, including the Folger Theater, Field School and DCJCC.
I don’t think there is any one brilliant theory or formula. Today anyone can create a place, but that is no longer enough. Every place is different. Sometimes we are creating a community. Other times it’s just a great gathering spot. Ultimately, it’s about public spaces, great destinations, and lasting value. Being in development, most placemakers jump on whatever is trendy, but trends don’t last. Retailers change. Preferences shift.
We have an appreciation for what exists, what came before us. It is this awareness that allows us to understand the structure of a community, and how the experiences we create can enrich it. We try not to impose something; rather, we use the things that exist. On Strathmore Square, for example, all of our efforts to date have been focused on the public realm and the community, not the buildings.
This is a city sketch I submitted when I was 10 to apply for school, an early snapshot into what would ultimately become my career. As you can see, its very detailed, down to the name of buildings.
I knew I wanted to be a city planner since I was a boy. I grew up in an apartment on one of the famous squares of Philly, and I used to draw cities every chance I could. I studied the thinking of Philadelphia’s founder, William Penn. It’s fascinating. He was trying to figure out how to attract people to America, and his vision of the Five Squares of Philadelphia was to build places that brought people, nature, and communities together in powerful ways. I’ve spent my whole education discovering how to do just that. What does building an Olympic village have to do with DC’s Whitman-Walker clinic and its mission? More than you think. There is an experience and skill set there that translates.
More and more, we see the opportunity to bring a truly fresh perspective into meaningful work and to have an important impact on organizations, and their neighborhoods. Its more than just creating a new place, it’s about creating community in a totally new way.