Disruption Index: Julia Landstreet

One of 77 people, places and ideas changing cities in 2012.

Credit: Danni Sinisi

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Over the next two weeks, Next City will unroll short profiles of 77 people, places and ideas that have changed cities this year. Together, they make up our 2012 Disruption Index. Forefront subscribers can download the Index in full as a PDF, complete with beautiful designs and graphics by Danni Sinisi. Readers who make a $75 donation to Next City will have a full-color printed copy of the Index mailed to them.

Nashville, a center for country music and cowboy fashion, isn’t known for progressive public design. That may be changing and with it, the relationship between traditionally car-centric southern cities and their often overlooked public spaces.

Since taking over as executive director of the Nashville Civic Design Center in 2010, Julia Landstreet has led this sea change in the city’s design community. Spearheading a variety of neighborhood and city-focused design initiatives, Landstreet has worked diligently to make design more important to Nashville by showing how it can help the city’s bottom line. Through programs aimed at youth and workshops focusing around the design of specific neighborhoods, the Center is making urban design a key part of plans to make the city a more livable, healthy and economically robust place. Landstreet, who got her start in the art world at White Columns, a New York visual arts organization, and later worked in government, has a unique background that marries political pragmatism with a conceptual framework. The result? Forward-thinking ideas about a more beautiful and sustainable city.

The Center recently sponsored an ideas competition that asked designers to reimagine 75 acres of Nashville along the Cumberland River. It got 139 teams from 29 countries to participate. Though there’s no funding right now to bring any of the winning designs to reality, that wasn’t really the point. For Landstreet, the real takeaway is planting a seed in the minds of Nashville’s people and encouraging them to envision the future of their city. Ultimately it’s up to them to push for a real change, but it’s helpful to have a visionary guiding the way.

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Nate Berg is a writer and journalist covering cities, architecture and urban planning. Nate’s work has been published in a wide variety of publications, including the New York Times, NPR, Wired, Metropolis, Fast Company, Dwell, Architect, the Christian Science Monitor, LA Weekly and many others. He is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities and was previously an assistant editor at Planetizen.

Tags: 2012 disruption indexnashville

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