Twin Cities Startup Week 2021 Twin Cities Startup Week 2021
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Reimagining Partnerships in Placemaking and Urban Planning


Tracy Nordstrom
Verve.Place, Principal

Tracy Nordstrom is a writer, storyteller, facilitator, convener of community conversations, and agent for vibrant communities.

Fernando Burga
University of Minnesota, Assistant Professor

Fernando Burga is an assistant professor of Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at University of Minnesota.

Richard Gilyard
Towerside, Board member

Dick is a practicing/consulting architect who has served as senior designer and principal in charge of design for a broad range of clients, building types and urban planning challenges. He is a Towerside Board member and chair of its Technical Advisory Committee. Dick is president of Prospect Park 2020, Inc., a 501-(c3) community development corporation and is on the board of Textile Center where he chairs the Facilities Committee. He is a past board member of the Prospect Park Association and the University District Alliance established by the Legislature to address planning and development issues unique to the University community. He has served on the Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Design Center in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. Throughout his career, Dick has insisted on taking a wide-angle lens and community-informed approach to planning and design.

Cyrus Knutson
Minnesota Department of Transportation, Director of Center for Community Connections

Cyrus Knutson is Director of Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Center for Community Connections, created to develop projects that make greater use of state highway rights of way and other assets to achieve community goals. He has worked for the State of Minnesota for 33 years, five years with the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board and 28 years with MnDOT in transportation planning. Cyrus began with an enduring childhood fascination with natural places, acquired an Urban Studies degree from the University of Minnesota, and both fuel a lifelong passion for spaces and what makes them places people want to be.

Colten Zacharias
Brand Director at Framework

Colten Zacharias is an urban designer, consultant and creative director
who works to enhance innovative brands across sectors and industries. He is currently focused on optimizing sustainable design processes necessary to improve senses of place and lessen negative ramifications of shifts in climate.


Join local design leaders, researchers and directors for a panel discussion on the future of place and partnership in Minnesota and around the world.