The After-After Duany: Congress for New Urbanism Announces Change at the Top

The Congress for the New Urbanism’s new appointment signals a shift in the organization’s goals and outlook.

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU)—the organization everyone in the architectural academy loves to hate—has settled on a new leader. The CNU announced today that Lynn Richards would succeed John Norquist, who served as president and CEO for the past 12 years. A former Loeb fellow at Harvard University, Richards comes to the CNU from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities, where she gained extensive public policy experience.

Her appointment is an intriguing one that signals a continuing shift in tactics by the CNU, away from its early polemics. Norquist’s appointment in 2002 was in some ways a conscious effort by the CNU to uncouple its identify from one of its charismatic and controversial founders, Andrés Duany. Norquist, the former four-term mayor of Milwaukee who famously tore down an inner city highway there, initiated his own campaign at the CNU called Highways Without a Future. Since then, he’s traveled the country encouraging municipalities to follow Milwaukee’s lead. While his efforts can’t claim any outright victories yet, there are a number of cities currently considering teardowns.

The CNU release touts Richards’ ability to navigate policy regulations and codes—the unglamorous, in-the-trenches, heavy-lifting part of urban design that’s often overlooked. In other words: the messy politics. It seems as if the CNU’s vision for its future isn’t about direction of the organization, but the implementation of its goals, and the results on the ground.

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