Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, September 9, 2010

Norquist promotes new urbanism

John Norquist's work promoting new urbanism as an alternative to sprawl and antidote to sprawl's social and environmental problems draws on his experience as big-city mayor and prominent participant in national discussions on urban design and school reform — as well as his degree from the La Follette School.


John Norquist in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Public Service

John Norquist gives the Paul Offner Lecture on September 23 at 5 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge of the Pyle Center. He will speak on "Urbanism and the Value of Cities." Audio available online.


John Norquist stepped down from his position with the Congress for the New Urbanism at the end of 2013.

A 1988 alum, Norquist was mayor of Milwaukee from 1988-2004. 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. He 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. Named a Governing magazine Public Official of the Year during his tenure as mayor, he also widespread recognition for championing the removal of a 0.8 mile stretch of elevated freeway, clearing the way for an anticipated $250 million in infill development in the heart of Milwaukee.

As president of the Congress for the New Urbanism in Chicago, Norquist has joined local activists in numerous cities as a key champion of plans to replace freeways with boulevards. A leader in national discussions of urban design and educational issues, Norquist is the author of The Wealth of Cities and has taught courses in urban policy and urban planning at the University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and at Marquette University.

Norquist served in the Army Reserves from 1971 to 1977. He represented Milwaukee's south and west sides in the Wisconsin Legislature. He chaired the National League of Cities Task Force on Federal Policy and Family Poverty and served on the Amtrak Reform Council.

He and 1983 La Follette School alum Susan Mudd have two children, Benjamin and Katherine.