Planning & Urban Design




The Connected City Design Challenge is an open call for urban design strategies to connect Downtown Dallas and the Trinity River. We are seeking bold solutions from professional designers, students and citizens to guide our future development.


The Challenge will engage the public, local and international designers, and urbanists in an effort to think creatively about the future of this vital area of Dallas.

Public events will include a symposium and lectures series by all three professional teams and panel discussions including the open stream finalists. An exhibit and publication are planned to share professional and open stream ideas in both digital and print form.

Teams are urged to help reveal the untapped potential of this area through innovative and compelling design proposals. It is our belief that the complexity of factors converging in this part of our city are catalysts for compelling, innovative, and precedent setting design proposals. The Connected City Design Challenge will inspire new strategies for overcoming the voids often created by urban infrastructure. It is time for a clear vision and urban strategy to be developed to inspire a new future for this area of our city.​



​The area included in the Challenge is bounded on the east by Lamar Street in downtown, the west by the Trinity River levee, Continental Avenue to the north and Cadiz Street to the South. The downtown area districts included are Riverfront, Reunion/Union Station, portions of the Dallas Civic Center, and the West End. This area is uniquely positioned between the Trinity River, Southside & The Cedars, the Design District, and Victory Park. Natural and inviting ways of connecting these parts of the city to one another, as well as to the river have been challenged by major flood, rail and highway infrastructure and the lack of a predictable, consistent, or connected street pattern.

The utility and necessity of the freeways converging in this area created vital regional connections and influenced Dallas’ growth since the late 1960s. They are significantly important as a part of the larger regional mobility system. There functionality is key to many areas of our city and their presence has influenced the development of this area for decades.​​​



Larry Beasley, Chair​​

​​LARRY BEASLEY is the retired Chief Planner for the City of Vancouver. He is now the “Disting​uished Practice Professor of Planning” at the University of British Columbia and the founding principal of Beasley and Associates, an international planning consultancy. In his civic service, Mr. Beasley led the transformation of Vancouver’s inner city and neighbourhoods and managed development approvals. Since leaving government, among his special commitments, he chairs ​the ‘National Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty’ of Ottawa’s National Capital Commission, he is the Senior Advisor on Urban Design for Dallas, Texas, and he is on the International Economic Development Advisory Board of Rotterdam in The Netherlands. He recently retired as the Special Advisor on City Planning to the Government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, a 5-year assignment, and as the vice-president for planning of a major Canadian development company, Aquilini Development, a 3-year appointment. He continues to advise governments and the private sector in Canada and around the world and he lectures extensively. Among his recent primary projects, he has completed an award-winning plan for the City of Moscow in Russia. Mr. Beasley is a Member of the Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian honour for lifetime achievement. In recognition of his national service, he has also recently been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.


​Peter Bishop

PETER BISHOP is Professor of Urban Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College, London. Peter trained in town planning at Manchester University and has spent most of his career working in London. Over the past 25 years he has been a planning director in four different Central London Boroughs and has worked on major projects including Canary Wharf, the development of the BBC’s campus at White City and the Kings Cross developments, one of the largest and most complex sites in London. He was appointed as the first Director of Design for London, the Mayor’s architecture and design studio, in 2006. In 2008 he was appointed the Deputy Chief Executive at the London Development Agency. In 2011 Peter took up a directorship at Allies and Morrison-Urban Practitioners architects and also works as a consultant for Berwin Leighton Paisner. In 2011 he carried out a review of national architecture and design policy on behalf of the Government and the Design Council. Peter lectures and teaches extensively, is a visiting professor at the faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at the Nottingham Trent University, is a design advisor to the Mayor of London, chair of the National Network of Architecture Centre’s, an honorary fellow of University College London, and an honorary fellow of the RIBA. His book, “The Temporary City” has recently been published by Oxford Routledge.


John Crawford​

JOHN F. CRAWFORD was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Downtown Dallas Inc. in 2007, after serving as the volunteer Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2006. Downtown Dallas Inc. is a private non-profit organization serving as the primary advocate and champion for Downtown, ensuring that Downtown grows as a vibrant center of urban life, recognized locally and globally for the quality of its business, hospitality, entertainment, living and cultural environments. John Crawford brings to Downtown Dallas Inc. over 30 years of successful marketing and general management experience as a senior executive with four Fortune 500 firms, and experience as a professional services executive, consultant and principal with firms in the legal, financial services, insurance and real estate development/brokerage industries. His experience also includes serving on the development team of the two largest real estate projects in the downtown area - the 1.7 million square foot Bank of America Plaza and the 1.4 million square foot Cityplace

Allan Jacobs​

ALLAN JACOBS taught in the Department of City and Regional Planning from 1975 to 2001 and twice served as its Chair. Presently he is a consultant in city planning and urban design. He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Miami University and studied at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. He received his master’s degree in city planning in 1954 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he later taught. From 1954 to 1955, he was a Fulbright Scholar in City Planning at University College in London. Prior to teaching at Berkeley, Professor Jacobs worked on planning projects in the City of Pittsburgh and for the Ford Foundation in Calcutta, India, and was for eight years the Director of the San Francisco Department of City Planning. Honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Berkeley Citation, and the Kevin Lynch Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and fellowships at the American Academy in Rome. He is author of The Good City: Reflections and Imaginations (forthcoming), Great Streets, Looking at Cities, and Making City Planning Work, and co-author of The Boulevard Book.

Mary McDermott Cook​

​​MARY MCDERMOTT COOK is the current Chair of the Trinity Trust Foundation, an organization committed to realizing the transformation of the Trinity River into a vibrant public space for all Dallas’ citizens. Having served on numerous local and national boards, she currently is a Trustee for the Dallas Museum of Art and a Director for the National Audubon Society. Mary is the President of the Eugene McDermott Foundation, a Dallas based foundation established in 1955 by her father and Texas Instruments founder Eugene McDermott. Her leadership at the foundation stewards investment in the city through education, culture and social services. Mary is a graduate of Stanford University. She enjoys spending time with her many dogs and at her ranch in North Texas.


Linda McMahon​

LINDA McMAHON is the President and CEO of The Real Estate Council and The Real Estate Council Foundation. Founded in 1990, The Real Estate Council (TREC) is a dynamic organization of more than 1,300 commercial real estate professionals and 500 companies representing 95% of the top commercial real estate businesses in North Texas. The Real Estate Council pursues industry advocacy efforts on local and statewide public policy issues and works to improve the quality of life in Dallas with initiatives that address housing, education, job creation and the environment. Linda serves on the Board of Family Gateway; she is a member of the Dallas Habitat for Humanity Honorary Board. She is the past Vice Chair of The Real Estate Council (2006-2007), past President of the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers (2009-2010) and still is very engaged with TAAHP, a member of The Dallas Assembly, Leadership Dallas Alumnae (1991) and The Texas Lyceum (1996). She is a founding member of Housing Texas and the Louisiana Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers. She has served on the Fannie Mae National Housing Advisory Council (2006-2008) and was actively engaged with the Louisiana Recovery Authority in redevelopment initiatives following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Linda is a frequent speaker and panelist at conferences nationally focused on economic development initiatives and affordable housing development. Linda has a B. A. in Government from The University of Texas at Austin.

Robert Meckfessel

Robert Meckfessel​

​​ROBERT MECKFESSEL, FAIA is the current Chair of the City of Dallas Urban Design Peer Review Panel bringing over 30 years of experience in the planning and design of institutional, residential, and commercial projects throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Many of these projects have been recognized for innovation and excellence in urban design, architecture, and preservation from professional and industry organizations, including AIA Dallas, Texas Society of Architects, Preservation Dallas, and Preservation Texas. He has served in a leadership role of many leading organizations involved with the quality and public awareness of the built environment, including AIA Dallas, Preservation Dallas, and the Dallas Architecture Forum. He currently serves as President of LaReunion TX, Vice President of DOCOMOMO US, and on the Boards of the Trinity Trust and the Trinity Commons Foundation. He lectures often at professional events, political forums, and educational venues. In 2007, Mr. Meckfessel was elevated to Fellowship in the AIA for his service to society, primarily as an advocate for urban design, and in 2008, Mr. Meckfessel was awarded the prestigious James D. Pfluger Award by the Texas Society of Architects in recognition of his record of community service.


Mohsen Mostafavi​

​​MOHSEN MOSTAFAVI, architect and educator, is the Dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design. His work focuses on modes and processes of urbanization and on the interface between technology and aesthetics. His latest book is entitled In the Life of Cities. He was formerly the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University where he was also the Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger Professor in Architecture. Previously, he was the Chairman of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (AA). He studied architecture at the AA, and undertook research on counter-reformation urban history at the Universities of Essex and Cambridge. He has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Cambridge, and the Frankfurt Academy of Fine Arts (Städelschule). Mostafavi sits on the board of the Van Alen Institute, serves on the steering committee of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and is a member of the Urban Council Board of The Skolkovo Foundation. At Harvard, he co-chairs the Harvard University Committee for the Arts and co-chaired the Common Spaces Committee, and continues to serve on the Advisory Committee for Common Spaces Projects and the Harvard Library Board. He is a member of the Executive Committees of the Mahindra Humanities Center, the Harvard Innovation Lab, the Laboratory at Harvard, and the Standing Committee on Middle Eastern Studies.

Mary Suhm​​

MARY K. SUHM is serving her eighth year as city manager for the City of Dallas. As city manager, Suhm is responsible for the daily operations of the municipal organization. She manages a staff of approximately 13,000 employees and a budget of nearly 3 billion. She was appointed city manager in June 2005 by the Dallas City Council. Prior to her appointment as city manager, Suhm served as interim city manager, first assistant city manager, assistant city manager, executive assistant director of Dallas Police, director of courts, assistant to the Mayor, and branch library manager for the City of Dallas. ​Suhm has won numerous awards from her peers including Public Administrator of the Year (2007, American Society for Public Administration—North Texas Chapter). In 2006, the Women’s Council of Dallas County named Suhm “Woman of the Year” and she is also the recipient of the Linda Keithley Award for Women in Public Management given by the North Central Texas Council of Government (1995). In 2008, she received the YMCA Metropolitan Dallas Centennial Award, which honors women who have had the most significant influence on the City during the past century. In 2009 she was honored by the Dallas Historical Society with the Jubilee History Maker award for her work in building a strong business environment to create growth and excellence for the Dallas community. In 2010, The Greater Dallas Planning Council recognized Suhm with the Kessler Award for her commitment to urban design and planning the city’s future.​


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