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March 18, 2013

OU institute plans community conference

NORMAN — Experts on designing livable and healthy communities, large and small, will headline the University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality Communities’ first Placemaking Conference on April 3 at the OU Norman campus. 

The conference targets city planners and developers as well as mayors and city council members across the state to collaborate in an effort to enhance Oklahoma communities.

Featured speakers at the luncheon and dinner sessions, respectively, will be Jeff Speck, author of “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time” and a designer, consultant and thought leader in the areas of walkability and New Urbanism; and Hank Dittmar, chief executive of Prince Charles’ Foundation for Building Community in London, England, and an international expert in the fields of urban design, development, and urban and transportation policy.

Speck and Dittmar will be joined by 10 industry leaders from around the country who will share their perspectives on improving community planning, design and governance during the daylong conference.

The morning and afternoon sessions will be in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall in the Catlett Music Center. The lunch and dinner will be in the Oklahoma Memorial Union.

The Placemaking Conference will begin at 9 a.m. in Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall with a session titled “Toward a Sense of Place.”

A welcome will be offered by Blair Humphreys, director of the Institute for Quality Communities, who will introduce Charles Graham, dean of the OU College of Architecture.

Graham will offer opening remarks and introduce the first speaker of the session, Christopher Leinberger, a land use strategist, author and developer. Leinberger, who will discuss “State of Oklahoma Communities,” is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and directs the Graduate Real Estate Development Program at the University of Michigan.

The 10 a.m. session in the same location will feature three panelists. Donovan Rypkema — principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development consulting firm, and a leading voice in historic preservation — will discuss “Economic Benefits of Preservation.”

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