Wellington “Duke” Reiter at Arizona State University

Impression: Wellington ‘Duke’ Reiter

Wellington “Duke” Reiter (A ’81) is convinced “bending the curve of the future will require thinking at scale.”

Wellington “Duke” Reiter (A ’81) is convinced “bending the curve of the future will require thinking at scale.”

He is the founder of TEN ACROSS (10X) whose main goal is “awareness-building” for the critical issues of our time including water, energy and immigration, all of which he suggests are found in their most dramatic forms along the Interstate Highway 10 corridor.

To plan effectively for the future, “it takes leadership, it takes policy changes, it takes public will, it takes patient communication, and, to some degree, a disregard for conventional boundaries, ” said Reiter, an architect and urban planner. 

The I-10 corridor — stretching 2,400 miles from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Houston, New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida — “provides the most compelling window on the state of the country, one which presents the challenges of the 21st century in the highest relief,” said Reiter. 

Reiter has called two cities on the I-10 home where water is crucial to their futures. One is New Orleans, which has an abundance of water, and Phoenix in the desert Southwest with a scarcity of water.

Water — too much or too little — is of vital importance to these two cities and thus a logical point of initiation for this project.

The formative years that Reiter spent in New Orleans as an architecture student led him to this moment, he said. His Tulane thesis was on disaster housing. Then his graduate work at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard was on how New Orleans could plan more effectively for the inevitable significant weather events that visit the city on a regular basis. (Reiter brought 50 Tulane architecture students to Arizona State University when Katrina struck in 2005.) 

When Reiter moved to Phoenix, he saw similar consequences with regard to preparedness. He is now the senior advisor to the president of Arizona State University. He’s in charge of large-scale, multi-stakeholder projects such as establishing a major campus in downtown Phoenix 15 years ago, at which 13,000 students are now enrolled. He’s also the former dean of the ASU College of Design. He serves on the Tulane School of Architecture Advisory Board.

He’s usually dealing with concerns related to the built environment of the university, and “why we are where we are, and what we plan to do there.”

He also runs the University City Exchange at ASU, which addresses what can the university do for the city? And what can the city do for the university?

Reiter said he cares deeply about the relationship between cities and universities.

TEN ACROSS (10X)’s next summit (www.10xwatersummit.com) is scheduled for March 23-25, 2020, in Houston and will use water as a leading indicator of how we will deal with large-scale issues of all kinds. 

“10X is about building a network of networks,” Reiter said. In dialogue with like-minded universities, like-minded mayors and a community of foundations, “everyone is going to benefit from the knowledge exchange.”

Above photo: Wellington Reiter, (by Andy DeLisle, © Arizona Board of Regents)