Here are Tony Nielsen’s remarks on the occasion of the planting of trees at Pringle Creek Community to honor Bill Lindburg.

I first got to know Bill when he invited me to join a little organizational committee that was looking at the future of Fairview. As the President of the Salem Chapter of the AIA, he was inspiring a group of young architects to work with the broader community and to think big about the future. They kicked off a community vision for Fairview that celebrates the relationship between buildings, people and nature. Pringle Creek is the wonderful expression of those relationships and Bill’s inspiration.

I got to know Bill a lot better at Salem City Council meetings when we both thought there were better ways of connecting downtown and Riverfront Park than building a tunnel to keep people out of the way of cars.

Bill was incredibly eloquent about vibrant public spaces and great architecture – really about places that made people happy and comfortable. Places that energize us and places that give us cause to celebrate. Anyway, Bill was so eloquent at City Council that I couldn’t understand why they didn’t just pack-up and go home, they could have just declared Bill our “Civic Architect Emeritus”, or maybe just “Citizen Emeritus” and with his vision and passion we would have had one of the best cities in the world.

Having just experienced Bill’s leadership on rethinking Fairview, and watching him build community and mentor both young architects – and one local developer – in the process, we tried to work the same magic for downtown. We brought in a national expert on livable streets – and Bill had the great idea to integrate an Architectural Design Competition to showcase creative solutions for connecting downtown Salem and Riverfront Park.

This was a part of Bill’s effort to demonstrate the importance of creative thinking, expertise, community participation and really just great placemaking.

That whole day, from the outside expert to the Design Competition to the community involvement, was a wonderful success. Bringing ideas and energy to everyone in the room, everyone there felt they had been a part of creating solutions and vision. I’m not sure if Bill joined with another of his protégés, James Meyer (who later became the principal architect for Pringle Creek) or the original planner of Salem’s Riverfront Park, Carol Mayer Reed – upon reflection I think he worked with both and both were among the winning entries. But all twelve submissions were winners and so were we. As a community we all benefited. Because again, Bill demonstrated the importance of vision, community and the art of real expertise.

Another year went by and a little group of downtown supporters wanted to bring one of the world’s leading advocates of vibrant public spaces to Salem. Naturally we turned to Bill (and another passionate advocate for downtown, Wes Bouche’) to meet the dynamic leader the Project for Public Spaces, Fred Kent, at the Portland Airport. The idea was for Salem to put its best foot forward by having our elder statesman of urban vitality spend the evening showing Fred downtown Salem and sharing dinner. The choice was obvious because Bill was knowledgeable, passionate and articulate about the importance of plaza’s, courtyards, parks, and successful urban environments. Mr. Kent is incredibly well traveled and expert in the design and programming of the best public spaces, but I think he met his match in Bill. They had a wonderful time and Fred came away with a glowing respect for Bill and our community.

Now to something I am especially proud to share with you:

The Urban Land Institute is widely considered the premier organization of development professionals. Their magazine is read by 35,000 of the world’s leading developers, planners, designers, architects and their clients.

Michael Mehaffey, recently retired as Director of Education for the Prince of Wales Foundation for the Built Environment, writes in the current issue (June 2007) of Urban Land Magazine [Click here for the pdf version with photos; here for just the text of the article] about Bill laying the foundation for Pringle Creek Community. Mr. Mehaffey tells the story of Bill lighting the spark, planting the ideas of stewardship, community, and sustainability, with a passion for wonderful places. And honestly that happened everywhere Bill turned his attention.

Finally, I served with Bill on a committee appointed to study the feasibility of the future Salem Conference Center. Once again he was the articulate voice calling out for great architecture, but only so far as it served to foster community. It was never about the architect’s ego, it was always about creating a wonderful interface between people and places. The happy places where people celebrate together. Bill campaigned for a meeting place that would be emblematic of community – and that the conference center should represent the aspirations of our City with a signature building that was also part of the fabric of our city.

Even as the early designs disappointed many of us, Bill worked quietly behind the scenes to help move the project in a better direction. I loved listening to Bill talk about the importance of public spaces. He was a joy to be around. I wish everyone had the chance to listen and learn from this gracious man. He certainly influenced a lot of people and a lot of places. Not least of them Pringle Creek Community.