2019 APA Planning Pioneer Award Mary Means

Mary is best known as the visionary creator of the Main Street project at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. From three pilot communities in which the “Main Street Approach” was developed, Means took the project to scale in the early 1980s. Its growth was accelerated by the film “Main Street,” produced in 1979 under her direction and over the next decade widely distributed via PBS and national organizations. She and her talented staff created the training materials and technical assistance packages that helped hundreds of small towns and urban corridors bring life back to their historic cores. The National Main Street Center, now independent of the National Trust, is celebrating its 40th year. It has been said that Mary’s work on Main Street revitalization¬† provided an alternative narrative to the accepted exodus from cities, enabling civic leaders to make the case for revitalization instead. After leaving the Trust, she has led Mary Means + Associates, a small but mighty community planning firm, for 35+ years. MMA’s public interest clients include public agencies and non-profits engaged in heritage-based vision planning, plans for large-scale heritage corridors, public-private-partnerships that improve town-gown relations, and numerous strategic planning assignments.¬† Her work has been recognized with 5 national APA awards, including the 2019 Planning Pioneer Excellence Award, and APA’s “Hard Won Victory” award for the Masterplan for New Orleans (where she directed extensive citizen engagement); 11 state APA awards, Federal Design Achievement Award, Design for Transportation Award, and the Dale Prize from Cal Poly Pomona. In 2020 the National Trust gave her the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award, the highest honor in historic preservation. Her book Main Street’s Comeback and How It Can Come Back Again was published in December, 2020. Now semi-retired, Mary writes and accepts speaking engagements in places she wants to visit or for audiences she wants to reach.

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