William Aaron Gilchrist
William Aaron Gilchrist is the Director of Planning and Building for the City of Oakland, CA charting a career path that has spanned both public and private sectors. In his previous roles in the public sector as director of Place-Based Planning in New Orleans, LA and director of the Department of Planning, Engineering & Permits in Birmingham, AL, his work has been recognized by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National League of Cities, the American Planning Association (APA), and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He also headed the urban design studio for AECOM’s Atlanta office. Bill’s work in both public and private sector has reflected a dedication to stakeholder engagement for sustainable outcomes in the built environment through design excellence.
Bill played a principal role in the redevelopment of New Orleans post-Katrina, where his Claiborne Corridor project has become emblematic of the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Plan for US infrastructure. He is a resource expert for the National Endowment for the Arts/American Architectural Foundation/US Conference of Mayors Mayor’s Institute on City Design. He was inducted into the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 2006 for his distinction as an architect in public service. Bill chaired the AIA’s celebrated Urban Design Assistance Programs, such as the Regional Urban Design Assistant Team, and the Sustainable Design Assessment Team.
Bill serves as a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and has been a leader in that organization’s focus on public-private partnerships, urban policy, and context appropriate development. He was a trustee on the National Association for Olmsted Parks and on numerous advisory boards to university design programs across the US. He has also engaged in work and research in France, Ukraine, and Kenya.
As part of its 150th Anniversary Global Celebration in 2018, MIT’s Department of Architecture recognized Bill with its Alumni Award for Civic Design. He is a past member of the MIT Visiting Committees to the Department of Architecture and to the Media Lab. While at MIT, he received the Karl Taylor Compton Award, the Chandler Prize and was among the first Aga Khan Traveling Fellows. Bill is an alumnus of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the MIT Corporation, where he chairs the Visiting Committee for the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.