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  • San Francisco’s City Center: a Forum on the Future – Session 1

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    San Francisco’s City Center: a Forum on the Future – Session 1

    Thursday, April 29, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm PDT

    Please join us for a digital forum regarding the future of San Francisco’s city center, hosted by the San Francisco Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIASF) and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

    The impacts of COVID and socio-economic disruption have dramatically altered San Francisco’s city center. Office vacancy is at record levels, retail tenants are struggling, and public spaces are underutilized. This two-part forum will focus on the social, physical, and economic future of this important regional hub. An exciting group of panelists will share ideas to build upon the innovative response’s we saw during the pandemic and to define the next chapter of San Francisco’s city center.

    Registration for Session 1 is open at the bottom of this page.



    Session 1: Thursday, April 29, 1-2:30pm
    Session 2: Thursday, May 13, 11am-12:30pm


    About the Speakers

    Session 1 Speakers:

    Matthew Ajiake | SF African American Chamber of Commerce

    Matthew Ajiake, PhD, is a motivational keynote speaker, author, entrepreneur, leadership coach, and thought leader. Dr. Ajiake draws on his experience in public, private and non-profit sectors to engage and empower his audiences and corporate clients in strategic visioning, leadership, and organizational change issues. He is the current President of San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce where he leads the organization in advocating and supporting African American business owners and the community. Dr. Ajiake is also the CEO of Sonika Corporation, a management consulting, construction project and program management firm. He has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, an MBA in Information Technology, and a PhD in Management with expertise in Leadership and Organizational Change. Dr. Ajiake’s new book, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: a social responsibility currency is due out first week of May 2021.

    Joo Cho | Skidmore Owings &Merrill

    As a senior urban designer for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Joo Cho, AICP, LEED, has extensive experience in both local and international large scale projects with a focus on sustainable and efficient transformation and utilization. Her projects are notable for fusing contextual sensitivity with innovative land use and design. Joo Cho holds a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University and Master of Architecture from Hanyang University in Korea.

    Robbie Silver | Downtown SF Community Benefit District

    Robbie Silver is currently serving as the Interim Executive Director for the Downtown Community Benefit District, the newest established CBD in San Francisco and covers 46 blocks of the Financial District and Jackson Square. Robbie has 10 years of experience working to revitalize downtown districts, enhancing nonprofit missions, and communicating government programs and initiatives. Robbie has held leadership positions in three downtown districts and served as the public information officer for the City of Riverside. Throughout his career, Robbie has raised nearly $1 million toward the various non-profits he served. Robbie believes in the power of private-public partnerships and collaboration to support common goals.

    Jonathan Shum | Related California

    As Senior Vice President for Related California, Mr. Shum is responsible for managing all aspects of the development process for mixed-income and mixed-use developments located throughout California. Prior to joining Related, Mr. Shum was a real estate investment banker at Credit Suisse and Houlihan Lokey in New York, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles. Mr. Shum holds a Master in Real Estate Development and a bachelors’ degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.​​​

    Session 1 Hosts:

    Jon Beutler CARB

    John David Beutler, AICP, has been an urban designer and planner at the intersection of urbanism, land use, and transportation for the last 20 years and is currently at the California Air Resources Board. John’s work has focused on the importance of human scale and human-centric design in addressing issues of sustainability and equity. He works at scales from the building to the street, neighborhood, city and region.

    Peter Kindel, AIA SOM | AIASF Urban Design + Infrastructure Committee

    Peter J. Kindel is the Director of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s (SOM) urban design practice for western North America. He is a California-based architect and urbanist focused on the design of cities and their complementary relationship to transportation and environmental systems. Peter is a leader of SOM’s City Design Practice, a global design collaborative focused on issues of urbanization. His projects include large-scale mixed-use development, new communities, urban infill, academic campuses, transit-oriented communities, public infrastructure and the restoration of ecological systems.

    Session 1 Moderator:

    Georgia Sarkin, Intl. Assoc. AIA SmithGroup | AIASF Urban Design + Infrastructure Committee

    Georgia Sarkin is an architect, urban planner & designer committed to the advancement of equitable, resilient and connected cities. In her role as Principal and lead urban designer and planner at SmithGroup, she leads interdisciplinary urban projects including mixed use, civic, residential, academic, master planning, campus planning, infrastructure and the public realm. She has led complex, large scale public and private sector urban developments around the globe. Recent work includes reimaging the San Francisco Federal Plaza, a civic center master plan for Santa Clara, and a mixed-use development in San Francisco. Georgia has taught at Harvard Graduate School of Design as Design Critic in Urban Design & Columbia University, New York, as Associate Professor in Urban Planning. She received her Master of Architecture in Urban Design with distinction from Harvard University GSD. Her work has received numerous design awards.

    Session 2 Speakers:
    Mike Grisso | Kilroy Realty Corporation
    Rich Hillis | SF Planning Department
    Melinda Yee Franklin | JP Morgan Chase

    Hosts: Jon Beutler CARB + Georgia Sarkin, Intl. Assoc. AIA SmithGroup | AIASF Urban Design + Infrastructure Committee
    Moderator: Rodney Fong | SF Chamber of Commerce


    Image Credit: Eric Fischer


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    Thursday, April 29, 2021
    1:00 pm - 2:30 pm PDT
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    AIA San Francisco
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