John Norquist

Speech Topics:
New Urbanism and the Future of Cities
Impact of Freeways on City Vitality
The Wealth of Cities: Revitalizing the Centers of American Life
Transportation Solutions for Healthy Neighborhoods

John Norquist, president and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism and a former big-city mayor, is a national leader in discussions of urban design, transportation and the relationship between the art of building and the making of community. The nonprofit the Congress for the New Urbanism promotes walkable, neighborhood-based development and pledges to stop sprawl and the erosion of community while halting environmental deterioration. One of the CNU’s recent efforts is LEED for neighborhood development—working to incorporate land use and transportation into green building.

Norquist, mayor of Milwaukee from 1988–2004, advises hundreds of city and federal officials across the country on transportation, development and urban planning issues. Under his leadership, Milwaukee experienced a decline in poverty, saw a boom in new downtown housing, and became a leading center of education and welfare reform. He oversaw a revision of the city’s zoning code and reoriented development around walkable streets and public amenities such as the city’s 3.1-mile Riverwalk.

Norquist sees highways as the great destroyers of a city’s soul and has drawn widespread recognition for championing the removal of a .8 mile stretch of elevated freeway in the heart of Milwaukee (Park East Freeway), clearing the way for an anticipated $250 million in infill development. He was also strongly in favor of light-rail as a solution for the city’s transit problems. As mayor, he consistently reduced the property tax rate every year he was in office and kept city budgets from growing beyond the rate of inflation.

In 2008, Norquist was honored nationally by the Ed Bacon Foundation for his excellence and leadership in urban development, planning, and design. Norquist is the author of The Wealth of Cities, and has taught courses in urban policy and urban planning at the University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and at Marquette University.

Norquist served in the Army Reserves from 1971 to 1977 and earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He represented Milwaukee’s south and west sides in the Wisconsin Legislature. He chaired the National League of Cities Task Force on Federal Policy and Family Poverty and served on the Amtrak Reform Council. He serves on the editorial advisory board of Developer magazine.

Travels from Chicago.

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