Ronald Lee Fleming, FAICP

Urban Planner and Designer
Preservation Advocate
Environmental Educator and Critic

Ronald Lee Fleming uses his role in public interest advocacy to address public policy issues of enhancing place meaning and identity. His work finds opportunities to create a synergism of effort among the often disparate forces affecting the quality of the built environment. Mr. Fleming is recognized for planning, public art and urban design projects seeking to merge the skills of architects, historians and artists. The culmination of ten years' research, his most recent publication, The Art of Place Making: Interpreting Community Through Public Art and Urban Design (Merrell Publishers 2007), provides case studies of public art that supports place, as well as providing professional analysis of interpretation, planning, trends and past failures in public art. He and his associates pioneered some of the early "Main Street" projects and, more recently, he has used this cross-disciplinary approach to make contributions in the area of environmental education and urban design. The Massachusetts Historical Society nominated Mr. Fleming's early trilogy, The Power of Place, for a Pulitzer Prize in 1982. It includes Place Makers: Creating Public Art That Tells You Where You Are (second edition, 1987), On Common Ground: Caring for Shared Land from Village Green to Urban Park (1982), and Facade Stories: Changing Faces of Main Street and How to Care for Them (1982). The series examines how urban design elements, public spaces and building fronts can foster constituencies with feelings of proprietorship as the basis for an ethic of care. With architect Renata von Tscharner, he conceived the book and poster series, New Providence: A Changing Cityscape, which illustrates how an imaginary but typical American city evolves from 1875 to 1990.

As the founding chairman of the Cambridge Arts Council, Mr. Fleming made the initial contacts with the Department of Transportation that resulted in the innovative Arts on the Line program, and generated more than $1 million for arts commissions on the MBTA system. He was the first chairman of Cambridge's One Percent for Public Art Committee, and remains engaged with the issues of relating art to place. He is an alumnus of Pomona College and Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, and is currently an active board member of Scenic America, and the Public Policy Committee of the Preservation Society for Newport County. He is the head of the Historic Towns Committee of US International Council on Monuments and Sites, and a principal in the Good Neighbor Policy partnership through the National Trust. He was also the Governor's Appointee to the Massachusetts Historical Commission from 1986 to 1990, and is a former trustee of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, the Trustees of Reservations and the Victorian Society, and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Mr. Fleming's Radnor Gateways Enhancement Strategy, a collaborative design with artists and landscape architects that affirms local place meaning, has "reimagined" a megalithic landscape including a giant cairn, Stonehenge circles, and an enormous griffin along a five-mile highway corridor on Philadelphia's Main Line. The work recalls the historic highway, and, deeper in the past, the original Welsh settlers in the surrounding community. The Federal Highway Administration included the Radnor project in an instructional video for highway engineers that demonstrates creative ways to enhance highway design. More recently, the project won the Environmental Design Research Association/Places 1998 award for design. The Townscape Institute's exhibit, "What So Proudly We Hailed," cosponsored by local preservation organizations, traveled around the United States visually documenting the need for a national heritage conservation policy protecting cultural landscapes. Mr. Fleming's most recent book is entitled Saving Face: How Corporate Franchise Design Can Respect Community Identity, and was first published by the American Planning Association in 1994, with a revised and expanded edition in 2002.

With over 35 years' experience, Mr. Fleming is uniquely qualified to take on a variety of place making planning endeavors, including public art planning charrettes, conceptual design, place making plans and urban design. Mr. Fleming is also available for consulting and speaking engagements pertaining to design review, corporate visual policy, place making design, proprietorship of public spaces, Main Street revitalization, interpretation, place making street furniture and urban design elements based on the Institute's nationwide research on these topics for an upcoming book.

Please contact us for more information and download Mr. Fleming's CV for full details of his past projects.