Urban Design 2022 Speaker Series: Action on Resiliency

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August 25, 2022
5:00 PM
Architecture Center Houston
902 Commerce St.
Houston, TX 77002

Brought to you by the Urban Design Committee



Thursday, August 25

5:00 pm / Social

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm / Panel Discussion

Join AIA Houston Urban Design Committee Summer Speaker Series, to understand sector roles, agency perspectives, and resident expectations as agencies pursue funding for resiliency projects in our communities.


AIA CE Credit: 1.0 HSW/LU


Title: Design for Resilient Development


$47 billion. President Biden's opportunity to help communities construct preventive infrastructure. In a three-part series, the American Institute of Architects: Houston Urban Design Committee joins the public to discuss how design leaders across design agencies and sectors are preparing projects eligible for resilience and prevention programs funded by the infrastructure bill.

In our final discussion, you will learn from private and development leaders on their experience, need, and hope for constructing resilient projects. What makes a resilient project successful? What are lessons learned – enablers and inhibitors - of resilient efforts in the Houston region?

Resilient development requires interdisciplinary approaches to articulate well informed co-design partnerships and achieve resilient-driven design solutions. A key concern of this panel is hearing panelist experiences in developing major resilient projects in the Houston region, and understanding inhibitors and enablers of project development. Talking points will include revealing key factors that contribute to successful resiliency development efforts - how major infrastructure projects should be developed to contribute to a resilient Houston. We are also concerned with the role of design in panelists process of developing resilient infrastructure and places. What are key factors that work and are missing from cross-sector processes for design professionals, researchers and city makers to contribute to development resilient places?

We are happy to have Andrew Albers, of OJB moderate the exchange.



Damon Williams is the Founder and President of TouchPoint Strategies, an award-winning professional services firm that has a proven track record across the public engagement, public-private partnership, and business process outsourcing industry. His practice combines decades of long-standing public and private sector relationships, with a cross disciplinary approach to meeting the client’s needs. Damon is well known in the Houston region for his 25+ years of high-level experience and has created over $400 million in public-private partnerships that has led to over $6 billion in new revenue on the ground.

Prior to founding TouchPoint Strategies, Williams served as the Director of Economic Development & Public Engagement for an urban planning firm, Chief of Staff for an At-Large Houston City Council Member, the founding Executive Director of a municipal management district, District Director for a Texas State Representative, and was the recipient of the Navy Achievement Medal awarded for logistical and engagement excellence in humanitarian outreach.

TouchPoint Strategies holds multiple diverse business certifications including Disabled Veteran (SDVOSB & Vets First), ACDBE, HUBZone, federal and State of Texas DBE/ MBE/SBE, State of Texas HUB, and State of California DBE.


Nikki Hawkins Knight serves as the Interim Program Manager for the Greater Southeast Management District (Houston Southeast). In her role she is charged with interagency planning-coordination efforts, program development, and managing strategic partnerships and projects for District’s sustainability and expansion. Areas under her purview include business and economic development, enhanced public safety, transportation/local mobility, environmental, urban design and visual improvements for the District. Doing good with and for people is critical to sustaining our communities and Nikki intrinsically believes that “all things work together”; demonstrated by her interdisciplinary approach to maintaining a high level of integrity and commitment to the necessary work at hand. As a native Houstonian, graduate of Mirabeau B. Lamar High School and University of Houston-Downtown; she was molded within the nuances of Houston’s diverse cultural construct. Honing critical skills to understand the unique intersection of people, preference and policy; has afforded Nikki the ability to meld theory, practice and process to employ pragmatic methods to align the District for long-term success. When she is not “strategically thinking” about how the world connects, she celebrates being a mom, writes, works with emerging non-profit organizations and serves her community.


Natalia Beard - Natalia is a Principal at SWA.  Much of Natalia’s work focuses on elevating cultural significance of places through interpretive power of art and its creative integration in designed landscapes. Be it an urban, industrial, or post-industrial context, she prioritizes maximizing the effect of design by grounding it in research of cultural and historical heritage of sites and communities that inhabit them. Working in metropolitan regions in the US, she has developed multiple approaches to incorporating art and cultural expression in large infrastructural environments. She helped re-envision the Atlanta Connector downtown freeway as a linear gallery displaying original art within the busy transportation corridor, and directed award-winning installations along Houston highways. She assists her clients in re-imagining mono-functional urban landscapes as a more integrated part of the city that is beautiful, green, and accessible to the public. Her work on Avenida Houston plaza helped re-brand the city of Houston as an international cultural destination from solely a business hub, while deriving unique iconography and design language from its industrial roots and cosmopolitan values.

Natalia’s work has been recognized with several national awards and featured in design publications. She spoke at national and state conferences on the topic of “Art and Infrastructure” and taught architectural design studios at the University of Texas in San Antonio and Louisiana State University taking on the patterns of urbanization in environmentally vulnerable landscapes of the Gulf Coast.


Ian M. Rosenberg founded INFILL Planning & Development in 2003. He has been managing the planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of complex projects for nearly 30 years. Mr. Rosenberg has worked closely with many public agencies and has been instrumental in the planning and execution of projects for The Federal Reserve Bank, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Memorial Park Conservancy and Main Street Coalition.

Mr. Rosenberg has served as a Project Manager for Buffalo Bayou Partnership since 2003. Mr. Rosenberg has overseen many projects including the construction of the $15 Million Sabine to Bagby Promenade, $10 Million International Coffee Building. Currently Mr. Rosenberg’s responsibilities focus on real estate and development for the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan, including the implementation of 250 units of affordable mixed income housing. Additionally, he has worked with Connect Communities in the Gulfton area on a masterplan to include workforce housing, new park space, infrastructure improvements and public facilities.

Mr. Rosenberg’s purchase and renovation of historic properties into 13 celsius, 1011 McGowen / Mongoose versus Cobra and 2808 Caroline / Weights + Measures have been recognized for many awards, including Good Brick and ULI Development of Distinction Awards. Mr. Rosenberg has served on the Board of the Midtown Management District, Legacy Community Health Centers and is Past Chairman of the Fifth Ward Community Development Corporation. He currently serves on the Houston Planning Commission.


Elijah J. Williams serves as Executive Director of The Energy Corridor District with responsibility for leading efforts to shape economic development, transportation, infrastructure, public safety, and urban design initiatives in one of the Houston region’s largest and important business centers.

Williams has spent his career solving critical challenges at the intersection of government, business, community, and policy. He has successfully advocated for policy issues and funding appropriations at all levels of government. Williams’ career has included a distinguished tenure in federal government at NASA and the U.S. Small Business Administration, including as a presidential appointee. He has also served as a Committee Director in the Texas House of Representatives and founded consulting firms specializing in business development and contracting.

Williams currently serves on the Board of Directors for City Park Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) 12, the Advisory Board for Urban Land Institute - Houston and the Houston Land Bank, the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee, and the Legislative Policy Council for the Transportation Advocacy Group – Houston Region. Formerly, he served on the Board of Directors for numerous organizations, including the Houston Area Urban League (HAUL), the Gulf Coast Rail District