Staff Spotlight: Andrew Swenson

MPO News
| Friday, April 26 | 8:17AM

Andrew Swenson grew up in the Quad Cities’ Moline, Illinois, an industrial town that is home to John Deere’s international headquarters. That’s where he first rode public transit, using the “pretty good bus system,” before going on to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to study economics. He discovered a passion for planning during his last year as an undergraduate, moving to Indianapolis after earning his master’s in urban planning. Here’s some Q&A so you can get to know him better.


Community singing as a member of my church choir the Indianapolis Arts Chorale. I also enjoy a form of German vocal art music called lieder, and I enjoy listening to Latin, bluegrass and jazz (both ragtime and jazz-fusion) and pipe organ music.

Favorite author, musician, actor or pro athlete?

Author: Philip Gulley (fiction and non-fiction)

Musician: Paul Simon, Bobby McFerrin, Yo-Yo Ma, Leo Kottke

Actor: Tom Hanks, Robert Duvall, Sally Field

Pro athlete: Ernie Banks, John Wooden, Walter Payton

Heroes growing up?

Albert Schweitzer, a theologian, musician, and missionary doctor. I became aware of him because my grandfather was a family doctor with an interest in religion and music. Schweitzer was very accomplished in every one of his endeavors, made himself useful to others, and used as a guiding principal, a concept he called a “Reverence for Life”.

Favorite place to visit or vacation?

I enjoy water, so beaches, especially isolated beaches, are my favorites.

Most underappreciated aspect of planning?

Understanding how much development and what type of development we can afford in the long run.

If you could wave a wand and improve Central Indiana infrastructure, what would you do?

I would provide sub-pavement drainage for every road. Indy is a swamp.

If you could change one thing about the way Indianapolis has grown over the years, what would it be?

I would have focused on rebuilding Indianapolis’ county roads into urban roads with sidewalk and proper drainage infrastructure and would have worked harder to get higher density. I think the urban flight of the ’70s and ’80s pretty much made that work impossible.