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City Council of Asheville, N.C., selects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to update city’s comprehensive plan

(Photo courtesy of AbeEzekowitz via Wikipedia Commons.)

(Photo courtesy of AbeEzekowitz via Wikipedia Commons.)

(Photo courtesy of AbeEzekowitz via Wikipedia Commons.)

The City Council of Asheville, North Carolina announced that it has selected Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM), one of the world’s leading architecture and urban planning firms, to update the city’s comprehensive plan. The existing planning document, adopted in 2003, establishes policies for Asheville’s long term development. As this city of 89,000 residents confronts demographic change, population growth, and other factors affecting its future development, the Comprehensive Plan Update will provide a vision to guide Asheville’s growth and will bolster the city’s commitment to achieving sustainability goals.

“Asheville is a city unlike any other, and we are thrilled for the opportunity to provide planning leadership and help shape a comprehensive plan for the city’s future growth,” said Kristopher Takacs, City Design Practice Leader at SOM. “The goals of the Asheville Comprehensive Plan Update resonate deeply with the city design ethos at the heart of our practice. Values such as culture and character, sustainable planning, livability, economic resiliency, and equity will echo throughout all aspects of the planning process. Our team will clarify, communicate, and implement a thoughtful, legible comprehensive plan that reflects the values of Asheville’s residents and serves as an effective roadmap for the city’s future.”

Early phases of the Comprehensive Plan Update will analyze Asheville’s existing environment, its role within the region, social and economic conditions, and projected growth patterns. Meaningful public engagement is a fundamental tenet of the Comprehensive Plan Update. The planning team will outline a robust strategy for public engagement that reaches the broad spectrum of Asheville’s population and incorporates public feedback from the outset of the project. The team will coordinate its work with city planning efforts currently underway, and will incorporate a sustainable design strategy to track and measure the city’s progress toward future goals.

SOM was selected from a field of candidates who presented initial proposals to the city in early February 2016. The firm will lead the overall project and will oversee the aspects of urban design, planning, and sustainability. Four additional firms will support the project: Asheville-based Design Workshop will consider local presence, public realm, and landscape; St. Louis, Missouri-based Development Strategies will advise on economics; Asheville-based Chipley Consulting will contribute to public engagement and communications; and Raleigh, North Carolina-based VHB will advise on transportation, public infrastructure, and resiliency.

“The city has experienced tremendous growth since the adoption of its last comprehensive plan so the time is ripe is for a new plan that will reconfirm the community’s vision for how and where it should grow over the next 10-20 years,” said Todd Okolichany, Director of Planning and Urban Design for the City of Asheville. “I’m excited to work with the SOM-led consultant team to help us articulate this vision and ensure that Asheville continues to be a forward-thinking, inclusive and livable community for years to come.”