The Sprawl Speaker Series is designed to provide a forum for Houston’s rich dialogue on urban development. Held in conjunction with the "SPRAWL" exhibition this fall, the series features a variety of notable individuals from city, county, academic, architecture, and urban planning backgrounds.
Like the exhibition, the speaker series addresses three main topics, “Infrastructure of Expansion,” “Survey, Plan, Build,” and “Aftereffects,” which loosely define the phases of urban growth. To supplement the art works in the show, the series aims to create a cross-disciplinary dialogue to address the complex issues raised by the exhibition and generate public discussion.
Survey, Plan, Build
November 7, 2013, 6 – 7 PM
Houston Urban Development & Improvement Panel
Peter H. Brown
Director of Better Houston
Peter H. Brown, a native Houstonian, continues a distinguished career in urban planning, design and development, and as a leader in the livable cities movement. With a belief in the transformative power and magic of cities, Brown has devoted his career to public service, especially to improving the quality and character of the urban environment in his hometown of Houston, Texas. He holds a B.A. from the University of Houston and B.Arch, M.Arch, and Master of City Planning degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He is Co-Founder and Director of BetterHouston, a non-profit civic involvement organization, dedicated to the betterment of neighborhoods and the urban environment. He also serves as Chairman of the Mayor’s International Trade and Development Council, Mayor Annise Parker’s expanded initiative to bring global talent, jobs, business, and cultural exchanges to the city.
A member of Houston City Council (2006-2010) and candidate for Mayor (2009), Brown previously directed a nationally recognized design firm, known for innovative public and private projects in Houston and 22 other American cities. A founding member of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and a fellow of the American Institute for Architects, he followed the design principles of The New Urbanism for over 25 years. A recent effort is THE GREAT CITY COALITION in Houston, modeled after Seattle’s Great City Initiative, which focuses on great neighborhoods, great schools, great streets, great transit, great urban development, great economy, and great governance.
BetterHouston is committed to better neighborhoods, better transit, and better urban development and is currently working on developing urban districts in Houston neighborhoods, including the Downtown Core, the Washington Avenue Corridor, the Greater East End, and the Fifth Ward. BetterHouston collaborates with a number of community partners, including the Kinder Center for Urban Research at Rice University, Project Row Houses, and several “super” neighborhoods.
President of Houston Tomorrow
David Crossley is President and Founder of Houston Tomorrow, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all the people of the Houston region through research, education, and discussion. Crossley has led the initiative for sustainability, quality of life, and smart growth in the Houston Gulf Coast region since 1998. His focus is on long-range, regional considerations of sustainability and quality of life. Crossley is Co-Founder and Former Chair of Blueprint Houston, an initiative toward a comprehensive plan for the City of Houston that began as a Houston Tomorrow program in 2001. He also served as President of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition from 1993 – 1996. On a national level, he is a board member of Smart Growth America and a member of the steering committee of America 2050.Houston Tomorrow’s mission for 15 years has been to improve the quality of life for all the people of the Houston region through research, education, and discussion. Houston Tomorrow’s vision is that, on its 200th birthday in 2036, the Houston region will be home to the healthiest, happiest, most prosperous people in the United States.
Houston Tomorrow promotes sustainable development of the region’s built environment and keeps citizens, policymakers, and business leaders informed about best practices and emerging research for urban development through its website, newsletter, ongoing public events, incisive presentations, input to the policy making process, and other publications.
President of Greater East End District
Diane Schenke is President of the Greater East End Management District and has served in that role since June 1, 2009. She is a longtime East End advocate, having served as President and Executive Director of The Park People, Gulf Coast Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy, and Executive Director of The Grand Parkway Association. Schenke brings a variety of experiences to the Greater East End Management District, having worked as an environmental lawyer for law firms and corporations prior to her time spent at governmental and nonprofit entities.
Since Schenke came to the Greater East End Management District, the District has received grant funds of over $17M and commitments of $4.5M in capital funds in the Second Ward and Harrisburg Corridor for pedestrian-friendly improvements. These improvements, which complement the East End Rail Line and real-estate improvements, are grounded in strong community input through the Livable Centers process.
The Greater East End Management District was formed by the Texas Legislature in 1999 to function as a tool for economic development and revitalization of the area. The District receives assessments from commercial property owners and uses funds for infrastructure improvements, beautification, security and public safety, workforce development, and other programs as designated by its board of directors.
More info at www.crafthouston.org/exhibition/sprawl/.
Recorded on November 7, 2013, at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. The SPRAWL Speaker Series was made possible in part through the City’s Initiative Grant Program of the Houston Arts Alliance.