The University of Arizona


UA Downtown Launches Sustainable City Project
Friday, March 9, 2012
R. Brooks Jeffery, The Drachman Institute

The project, the product of an interdisciplinary collaboration, will focus on issues at play in sustainable urban development.

University of Arizona Downtown has launched a new partnership designed to tackle the profoundly complex issues facing Tucson and other cities in the 21st century.

The Sustainable City Project, an interdisciplinary collaboration by the UA's Institute of the Environment, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, or CALA, and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, or SBS, focuses on issues of sustainable urban development and livable cities through education, outreach and research.

"Tucson will be doubling its population in the next 50 years," said CALA Dean Janice Cervelli. "We need to develop scenarios of sustainable urban development that provide alternatives to current practices that promote resource consumption, sprawl and community isolation."

Part think tank, part urban design studio, part community forum, the project develops community-based solutions to complex urban challenges, including renewable energy, climate change, economic development, affordable housing, multi-modal transportation, water management, public health and ecosystem and heritage conservation.

Through the UA partnership, the project is designed to build and support teams composed of University faculty members and students representing a diverse array of academic disciplines – architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, environmental science, geography and development and public administration – and representatives from local and state agencies, community groups, developers, business and industry.

"This initiative is a great opportunity to make UA research on sustainability – especially in climate, solar energy, water and ecology – more relevant and accessible to our local community and for the University to better understand the needs and future of our city," said Diana Liverman, co-director of the Institute of the Environment.

The Sustainable City Project is based at UA Downtown in the historic Roy Place Building at Stone Avenue and Pennington Street in Tucson. There, UA faculty members and students can connect with city officials and staff, community leaders and project developers for dialogue, vision, analysis and development of sustainable scenarios for the future.

UA Downtown also serves as a forum where academic, civic, cultural and business leaders can meet to discuss sustainability scenarios for the future of Tucson and Southern Arizona.

"A lot of people have invested considerable time and money into downtown, and thanks to their vision we've got tremendous momentum now," SBS Dean John Paul Jones III said. "The Sustainable City Project joins in that effort. It's further evidence that the University is committed to making Tucson a more attractive, vibrant and sustainable city."

Emily Nottingham has been hired as the project's interim coordinator while a national search is underway for a permanent coordinator. Nottingham holds a doctorate from Indiana University and has worked extensively in local government, leading community development initiatives for the city of Tucson. She has taught project-based community planning courses at CALA as an adjunct faculty member for the past five years and provides technical assistance and training on urban issues across the country.

"We are so excited to have someone of Emily's expertise and experience to help us launch the Sustainable City Project," said R. Brooks Jeffery, director of CALA's Drachman Institute, which oversees the position. "Her ability to hit the ground running with partners in the Tucson community will provide us with a solid foundation for the project's success."