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Friends of MICD,

This week brought us the sad news that one of MICD’s founders, Jaquelin Taylor Robertson, passed away at age 87. His legacy as an architect, designer, and champion of the public realm is enormous.

It's more obvious than ever that a vibrant public realm (which we're all missing so dearly) is a critical element of our shared humanity. Jaque understood that city building is never neutral: that every building, every piece of infrastructure, every policy, and every decision a leader makes either contributes positively to a city or harms it. As we start turn our attention to a safe, just, and equitable recovery from COVID-19, new questions have emerged that require thoughtful leadership. At MICD, we are developing new programming to address these challenges, and we are doing it with an eye towards the intentions at the very core of our founding: that the leaders of our nation’s cities hold the keys to the success of our cities for decades to come, and that the decisions we make today have a direct impact on the lives of our residents. It is no small task. And as always, we stand ready to help. 

For now, we hope the tribute below helps you carry on Jaque's legacy during, and past, the current moment.

Trinity Simons
Executive Director
Mayors' Institute on City Design

A tribute to Jaquelin Taylor Robertson, 1933-2020

Image: Cooper Robertson
Jaquelin Taylor Robertson, FAIA, FAICP, was a lifelong public servant dedicated to architecture, planning, and the public good. Among his many contributions to the broader field of urban design, Robertson was a co-founder of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. He passed away on May 9; read our tribute here. We included an artifact you may have never seen: the original letter Mayor Riley wrote to Jaque in 1985 with his idea for MICD.

"Without Jaquelin Taylor Robertson, the Mayors' Institute on City Design would never have been created. When I proposed the idea, Jaque gave it his national reputation and brilliance in designing how the Institute and its leadership would work... He had told me many times that of all the buildings he designed and all of his professional engagements, the Mayors' Institute was his most important accomplishment."

Joseph P. Riley, Jr.  |  Former Mayor, Charleston, SC

"The United States Conference of Mayors has been a partner of the Mayors' Institute since its founding, and Jaquelin Robertson's legacy is felt every time we gather a group of mayors to improve the design of their cities. Through this program, his vision and passion for city-building has influenced every corner of our nation."

Tom Cochran  |  CEO and Executive Director, The United States Conference of Mayors

"The reach of this program — one of our most impactful programs at the National Endowment for the Arts — is unparalleled. Our cities and our public realm owe much to Jaquelin Robertson's visionary spirit and this program he helped launch decades ago."

Jennifer Hughes  |  Director, Design and Creative Placemaking, National Endowment for the Arts

Read: A Tribute to Jaquelin Taylor Robertson, 1933-2020
The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, the Mayors’ Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.
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