An initiative started in 2014 by Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, Letters to the Mayor – Rotterdam invites a selected group of local and international architects to write a letter to Mayor Aboutaleb of Rotterdam, articulating some of the pressing questions and desires that, as architects, they believe play an important role in the political dimensions and decisions that drive the making of cities and territories.

Throughout history, architects have engaged with this responsibility and the structures of economic, political, and cultural power in different ways and with varying degrees of success. With the rise of globalization and the homogenization of the contemporary city, the role of the architect in the political arena has often been relegated to answering questions that others have asked. Given the many interests that nowadays surround constructing tomorrows urban fabric, the advancement of public life by assigning designers is no longer a given, neglecting the potential of the design disciplines.

Letters to the Mayor – Rotterdam questions the current dynamic, and invites local and global architects to deliver their thoughts directly to the desks of elected officials, and simultaneously into the public consciousness.

The project has been presented in Athens, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Madrid, Mariupol, Mexico, New York, Panama City, Sao Paulo, Taipei and Taichung. Each edition of Letters to the Mayor invites one hundred local and global architects to deliver their thoughts directly to the desks of elected officials, and simultaneously into the public consciousness. Taking the form of an exhibition and a series of public debates between architects, the mayor, and citizens at large, Letters to the Mayor is a forum for the discussion of the future of cities and the built environment. The project provides a transversal understanding of relevant issues within local contexts, and shared concerns throughout cities around the world.

Letters to the Mayor will be launched on 12 January 2018, in the presence of the Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, and will be on show until 11 February 2018.