Who, or better yet, what is R/UDAT?

Behind the acronym, which few seem sure how to pronounce, is a group of urban planners, architects and transportation experts marshaled from around the country to help poorly developing cities assemble and execute a revitalization strategy.The team usually spends only several days in a city, conducting an intensive study of the city's development problems and then making a plethora of recommendations for change.

Leaders in the Salt Lake architectural community began courting the Regional/Urban Assistance Design Team last year when an application for a R/UDAT visit was made to help lay a plan for redeveloping Salt Lake City's downtown.

Qita Woolley, president-elect of the Salt Lake Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture, hand-carried an application to the American Institute of Architecture in Washington, D.C., which oversees R/UDAT.

AIA chooses cities primarily by the amount of public support they can muster for a study. Salt Lake City organized a committee once before to bring R/UDAT to the city, but the effort failed for lack of interest, Woolley said.

This year, however, the local effort was successful and R/UDAT agreed to send a eight-person team. The team's visit culminated in the release of a report summarizing 80 recommendations for downtown's revitalization.