Former Nutter planning honcho wins national architecture honor

3 x 2 Alan Greenberger
Alan Greenberger, former deputy mayor for economic development and commerce, has been named the winner of the 2017 Thomas Jefferson Award.

Alan Greenberger, who ran Philadelphia’s planning department for most of Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s two terms, has been named the winner of the 2017 Thomas Jefferson Award, one of six “people awards” bestowed annually by the American Institute of Architects. The award is given to people whose design and planning work enhanced the public good.

As a deputy mayor and chairman of the Planning Commission, Greenberger oversaw the overhaul of the city’s zoning code, a four-year effort that was designed to modernize standards, reduce the need for variances, and simplify the permitting process. The new code has been partly responsible for the surge in construction in Philadelphia.

Greenberger, who recognized that the city was emerging from a long period of decline, also sought to prepare it for growth by undertaking several major  planning studies. In 2011, his department completed the city’s first comprehensive citywide plan since the days of legendary planner Edmund Bacon. Called Philadelphia 2035, it advocated increased density and less dependence on the automobile, and included a priority list for new transportation and park projects.

Although the administration has changed, Philadelphia 2035 still guides the city’s development. During Greenberger’s tenure, the planning department also produced a master plan to guide the development of the Delaware waterfront.

Before joining the Nutter administration, Greenberger was a practicing architect and a principal at MGA Partners. He now teaches at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation and serves as the chair of the Philadelphia Art Commission. He will receive the award at the AIA convention in April in Orlando.