Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist to discuss urban infrastructure at Rice Kinder Institute talk

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs/News & Media Relations


David Ruth

Amy McCaig

Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist to discuss urban infrastructure at Rice Kinder Institute talk

HOUSTON – (Sept. 9, 2015) – As the country debates how to address crumbling highway infrastructure, former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist will offer a different perspective — Why not let it go to waste? — when he speaks at a Sept. 22 presentation hosted by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.



The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the CenterPoint Energy Tower, 1111 Louisiana St. in Houston. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required.

Norquist earned national attention for successfully pushing for the removal of an elevated freeway in Milwaukee. He will speak in Houston as a similar discussion surrounding the future of the Pierce Elevated portion of Interstate 45 unfolds. He’ll explain why he believes using the existing street grid, along with public transit, is a better way for cities to manage congestion than using highways.

Who: Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist.

What: “Freeways: Wrong Infrastructure Choice for Cities,” a public talk hosted by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22.

Where: CenterPoint Energy Tower, 1111 Louisiana St., Houston.

Norquist served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1988 to 2004, and he gained a national reputation after successfully pushing for the removal of the city’s Park East Freeway. Largely because of those efforts, the influential urban planning website Planetizen named him one of history’s “top 100 urban thinkers.”

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. As mayor, Norquist also 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. He was recognized as a Governing Magazine Public Official of the Year during his time as mayor, and in 2008 he received the prestigious Bacon Prize from the Philadelphia Center for Architecture.

Norquist is the author of “The Wealth of Cities: Revitalizing the Centers of City Life.” The book argues that cities have natural advantages that have been undermined by a half-century of ill-conceived housing, education, transportation, crime, welfare and environmental policies.

After his mayorship, Norquist took the helm of the Congress for the New Urbanism, the leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions. He has also taught courses in urban policy and planning at the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University. He earned a B.A. and an M.A. at the University of Wisconsin and served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1971 to 1977.

For more information, visit

To RSVP for the event, visit

Media who wish to RSVP should contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or


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Related materials:

Kinder Institute for Urban Research:

Blog post: America’s Highways are Crumbling. Is That a Bad Thing?

Photo link:



Photo credit: John Norquist.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.