Practitioners and experts who contribute to livable and healthy communities, large and small, will headline the University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality Communities’ Placemaking Conference Monday, April 1, on the OU Norman campus. The conference targets design professionals, planners, elected leaders, health advocates, civic volunteers and more to engage the public in a conversation about how the design of the built environment is of critical importance to challenges facing Oklahoma.

“The Placemaking Conference is considered one of the top gatherings of urban designers and community builders in the country,” said Hans Butzer, dean of the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture at OU. “The conference places the IQC at the center of discussions with communities across the region that strive to shape better places for people.”

Rick Lowe, who recently was named as the Bruce Goff Chair of Creative Architecture by the Gibbs College of Architecture, will deliver a public lecture to conclude the event. A MacArthur Fellow and artist known for founding Project Row Houses in Houston, Lowe consults on cultural projects nationwide, including in Oklahoma. In his public lecture, “Artists in Action,” Lowe will share how art-driven redevelopment programs contribute to revitalization.

Lowe will be joined by leaders from across the country to share perspectives on economic development, design and programming for places of all sizes:

  • Mick Cornett, author of The Next American City and former mayor of Oklahoma City, will present his view of how small and medium cities are positioning themselves for growth.
  • Elena Madison, vice president at Project for Public Spaces, will present a panel on the organization’s transformative Heart of the Community grants; panelists will include Laura Hoagland of Southwest Airlines and Jill Brown DeLozier of the Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership.
  • Kennedy Smith, co-founder of Community Land Use + Economics Group, will share best practices and examples for retail districts and individual businesses to survive shifting economic landscapes.
  • Dylan Thuras, co-author of Atlas Obscura, will discuss how strange, interesting and offbeat places can become part of a community development strategy.
  • A panel titled “Oklahomans in Action” will highlight three success stories in Oklahoma; panelists will be Allison Barta Bailey of Oklahoma City Holiday Pop-Ups, Kelly Tompkins of Main Street Enid and Lauren Nitschke of Waurika, Oklahoma.

“This year’s conference celebrates how individuals and groups can put placemaking in action to solve challenges and advance their communities,” said Shane Hampton, director of the Institute for Quality Communities.

The Placemaking Conference 2019 is supported in part by the Norman Arts Council, Wheeler District, AARP Oklahoma, Oklahoma Municipal League, Republic Bank & Trust, the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, Ideal Homes, and additional support from generous individuals.

Founded in 2008 in the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture, the Institute for Quality Communities serves Oklahoma’s towns and cities with design and planning assistance, while educating the next generation of leaders through student programs. Since 2013, the biennial Placemaking Conference has attracted visitors from 60 Oklahoma counties and a dozen states.

The Placemaking Conference will open at 8:30 a.m., with the program to start at 9:30 a.m., in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, Catlett Music Center, 500 West Boyd St., in Norman.

Advance registration is required by March 22. Registration is $35 or complimentary for OU students. Tickets, a full schedule and further information are available online at http://iqc.ou.edu/conference. For further information, please email the Institute for Quality Communities at iqc@ou.edu or call (405) 325-2434.