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NEA Director of Design Jeff Speck to Resign in May

City planner heading back to planning cities.

By ArchNewsNow
March 27, 2007

An e-mail arrived Friday afternoon with the subject line: “Planned farewell, and thanks.” It was from Jeff Speck letting his entire rolodex know: “As my four-year anniversary approaches, I have decided that it is time to *retire* from my post as director of design at the NEA [National Endowment for the Arts].


According to his note, Speck will remain at his post until mid-May and participate in the search and selection of his successor. He will then return to private practice as a city planner, “doing very much the sort of work I was doing four years ago, but this time on my own schedule.” (Prior to joining the NEA, he was director of town planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk, and co-authored, with Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Suburban Nation, The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.)


Speck’s tenure saw the launch of the Governors' Institute on Community Design, “started with the EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] on a wing and a prayer,” he wrote. The Governors’ Institute builds on the success of the Mayors' Institute on City Design (MICD), which the NEA established in 1986, and Your Town: The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design, created in 1991 in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Speck also hinted at what sounds to us as a very juicy project currently underway: “As I write this, we are creating a fourth leadership initiative, Open House America. The goal of this program is to turn the Open House and Doors Open concept, now successful in places like London, Toronto, and New York, into a coast-to-coast phenomenon. Over the months ahead, we will be working with Open House New York and the Chicago Architecture Foundation to design this program, which I believe has the potential to literally transform design culture in this country. Stay tuned.”


Indeed, we will.


© 2007