Award: Town+Gown

January 1, 2017

Innovations in American Government Awards

  • AWARD WON: 2017 Bright Idea
  • AWARDEE: Town+Gown
  • DESIGNEE: City of New York, NY

Town+Gown is a systemic action research program founded in 2008 that facilitates partnerships between academics and practitioners on research projects aimed at making changes to practices and policies related to the built environment. There are two components: the experiential learning program and funded research. Research projects completed each academic year are abstracted in Building Ideas, Town+Gown’s annual review document, which disseminates research results and provides a foundation for the symposium events. The Research Agenda is a key tool to move the systemic action program along through the academic year cycles. The program continually works with participants to update the Research Agenda to reflect built environment trends in academic thought and research as well as in practice. All are welcome to suggest new research questions, which is a shared built environment resource. The questions are expressed broadly, providing umbrella research concepts from which schools and practitioner partners can work together to craft more defined projects. Town+Gown disseminates research results and fosters ongoing discussions. Before each symposium event, summary documents are made available to provide background and context for the conversation. After several action research cycles, Town+Gown has generated several ongoing action learning sets, which consist of related projects and symposia event discussions and the potential to use results of research produced. The program has published four annual editions of "Building Ideas," has held over 20 symposia, and has facilitated approximately 30 research partnerships between academic partners and municipal agencies since 2008. In 2014 and 2015, symposia were held on modernization of NY's built environment laws, the potential of building information modeling, road pricing and green infrastructure, service design, and equity. Topics explored on our Research Agenda include the relationship of variance in public construction practices to cost and schedule,the impact of politics on project costs and execution, the role of service design to public architecture and infrastructure projects, workforce needs and sources of construction professionals and skilled workers, and evaluation of contractor capacity to undertake public projects.