The Innovative Metropolis

Project awarded Academic Venture Fund grant

Posted by Jessica Martin, The Record October 24, 2011

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., and Washington University in St. Louis have announced the recipients of grants from the joint Academic Venture Fund (AVF).

The purpose of the AVF is to support collaboration between scholars at WUSTL and the Brookings Institution, particularly long-term projects that impact research, education, and policy.

Peter MacKeith, associate dean and associate professor of architecture in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at WUSTL, and Rob Puentes, senior fellow and director of the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, part of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, were awarded an AVF grant for the project "The Innovative Metropolis: Fostering Economic Competitiveness through Sustainable Urban Design." 

Building on a yearlong dialogue, the Sam Fox School and the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program will hold a jointly organized symposium exploring the intersection of sustainable design with economic growth and the implications for design and practice.

The one-day symposium, hosted in Washington, D.C., in fall 2012, will bring experts from the Brookings Institution, professional practice, industry, and government together with Washington University faculty and graduate students and an expanded audience of urban policy stakeholders from public and private sectors. Particular emphasis will be placed on international case studies, particularly global cities that have overcome significant challenges, and the transfer of innovative policy solutions to U.S. cities facing similar circumstances defined by economy, geography, and culture.

"We're very pleased to work with the Brookings Institution on this joint venture exploring the intersection of public policy, economic growth, and sustainable metropolitan design," MacKeith says. "The Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program is the ideal partner in this initiative, and the timing of the symposium—to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Master of Urban Design program—will draw significant attention to the School and University.

"The dialogue between national and international urban actors will be stimulating and productive," MacKeith continues. "Urban Design faculty and students will be deeply involved in the research and planning for the event; the focus of the symposium will serve to highlight the strengths and emphases of our programs and will better prepare our students for important work in the field."

Pietro Nivola, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, and Peter Kastor, PhD, associate professor of history and of American culture studies, both in Arts & Sciences at WUSTL, were also awarded an AVF grant, for the project "What So Proudly We Hailed: Essays on Contemporary Meaning of the War of 1812."

AVF grants are available in amounts from $20,000 to $50,000. Interested fellows, faculty, staff, centers, institutes, and programs can continue to submit proposals for review in summer 2012.

The AVF also offers smaller grants for events or travel by Brookings and university personnel. These proposals can be submitted at any time and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. A committee from Brookings and the university will review the proposals.

The AVF program is under the direction of law Dean Kent D. Syverud, JD, the Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor and associate vice chancellor for Washington, D.C., programs.

The academic partnership between the university and Brookings began in 2009. The institutions now offer joint programs, including internships, lectures, and other educational activities. The Olin Business School also leads management of the Brookings Center for Executive Education.

For more information about the AVF grants, call Tomea Mersmann at (314) 935-6486 or e-mail