Bergmeyer’s President, Mike Davis, FAIA, on Interdisciplinary Design Initiatives with the AIA’s Communities by Design Program

Neighborhoods that have been overlooked and underutilized are reimagined with a new purpose for their communities.

Bergmeyer’s President, Mike Davis, FAIA, has a long history of working on interdisciplinary design initiatives. Both nationally and internationally, he has led design teams and facilitated community conversations with the support of service grants from the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Communities by Design program. Through joint efforts from the AIA, member architects, and community leaders, neighborhoods that have been overlooked and underutilized are reimagined with a new purpose for their communities.

National Initiatives

In St. Helens, Oregon, Mike was team leader and urban designer for an AIA SDAT (Sustainable Design Assistance Teams) that focused on a 17-acre riverfront site occupied by an abandoned paper mill. Recognizing that the employment base in St. Helen’s had been severely impacted by these factories’ closings and tourism was now the most viable economic driver, the team re-imagined the site as a regional mixed-use destination on the waterfront.

In Louisville, Kentucky, Mike’s SDAT team was invited by a faith-based neighborhood group to assist the City’s Russel neighborhood, the center of Louisville’s historic African-American community. This part of West Louisville, isolated by race-based land use policy in the late 1960’s, was experiencing higher crime and unemployment rates than the gentrified neighborhoods east of downtown. The team created a master plan to re-connect the neighborhood to downtown through mixed-use development and creative placemaking that would celebrate West Louisville’s cultural heritage.

View images from the project in St. Helens, Oregon:

View images from the project in Louisville, KY:

International Initiatives

Since 2017, Mike’s design skills and team leadership have been utilized by the AIA to do R/UDAT (Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team) service grants in Dublin, Ireland, Bequia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

The 2017 AIA R/UDAT in Dublin, Ireland centered on reimagining a neglected commercial district north of the River Liffey. In addition to strengthening the district’s connection to its surrounding neighborhoods and enhancing the public realm, the design team proposed transforming a multi-level indoor shopping mall in the center of the district into a figural outdoor civic plaza lined by new commercial storefronts thereby activating the space’s edge and increasing the overall net leasable floor area.

The study area for the 2019 AIA R/UDAT in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, encompassed the entire Porto Maravilha, the city’s historic port district. Despite significant infrastructural investments following the 2016 Olympics, international tourists have avoided Porto Maravilha. Lacking a cohesive vision, the district’s residential “favelas” have remained impoverished and neglected. Rather than designing solely for tourists, the AIA R/UDAT team chose to focus on social equity matters by addressing the needs of Rio’s residents and workforce. They proposed a master plan of adaptively-reused warehouses, public housing, and community service centers, all connected by an Afro-Brazilian cultural heritage trail.

View images from the project in Dublin, Ireland:

View images from the project in Rio de Janiero, Brazil: