Helper, Utah Revitalization Project

In February of 2017, the City of Helper received a Sustainability Design Assistance Team (SDAT) grant from the American Institute of Architects.


The SDAT program "helps communities develop a vision for a sustainable future and a realistic, attainable road map to get there."

They bring teams of experts including architects, urban designers, landscape architects, planners, economists and others to work with community leaders, stakeholders and citizens. The result is a broad assessment that helps frame future policies and solutions and be proactive about sustainability.

Other SDAT recipients in Utah:

Spanish Fork


The SDAT process is flexible, but typically has four parts or phases, some of which may overlap:

Phase 1: Getting Started and Applying 
The SDAT program issues a formal Request for Proposals once a year. A local leader or citizen calls the AIA and asks for help and information, initiating a conversation between the AIA and local leaders.  AIA staff will work with the community from project conceptualization to a formal application for AIA assistance.   The community forms a steering committee that represents a cross-section of residents, local government agencies, businesses, institutions, and community groups. This committee gathers community support and prepares an application. Upon review and approval of the application, the AIA makes a formal commitment to your community.

Phase 2: Preliminary Visit 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
An AIA staff person and the DAT team leader selected by the AIA conduct a 1-1.5 day long preliminary visit to the recipient community to tour the project area and surrounding community and to meet with the steering committee. This visit introduces the leader to the community and its concerns and sparks broader community interest and participation in the process. The preliminary visit is relatively informal and does not require extensive meetings with all of the interested stakeholders; the primary goal of the preliminary visit is to establish the topical areas of focus for the project. At the conclusion of the preliminary visit, preparations begin for the full team visit, including logistical plans (meeting locations, team work space, plans for publicizing the event, etc.) as well as team member compilation by the team leader and AIA National staff.

 Phase 3: Full Team Visit  
September 6-8 2017
The team leader and AIA National Staff select a multidisciplinary team of five to seven professionals who visit the community for three (SDAT) intense, productive days. After viewing both the study area and the surrounding community and listening to the concerns and ideas of residents, interested groups, and community leaders, the team prepares a summary presentation of its findings that is presented in a public meeting on the last day. A final report is created and provided to the community. This report is typically provided approximately two to four months after the team visit (SDATs), and is provided to the community in electronic form as well as posted to the AIA website.