City Building: A New Convergence

Friday, 14 November

?????????????3 to 5 pm

in Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2125

While not without major challenges these past decades have seen a revalidation of the city and a reversal of the post-war exodus as important demographic cohorts – immigration and in-migration; young people and empty nesters (and increasingly now young families) voting with their feet are repopulating city centers and older neighborhoods, seeking what cities have to offer, convenience, urbanity, cultural life, sociability etc. The renewed interest in cities is also driven by the increasing globalization of economic activity. Since choice of business location is not only among cities in the same region cities but international, site location decisions, especially for the knowledge-based industries that are increasingly driving the North American economy, are to a significant degree based on the value that a particular location offers. This in turn relates directly to the concept of place and the quality of the public realm. New more dynamic place-based models are emerging that that stress mix, overlap, shared space and flexibility and integrating ‘concepts’ at the intersection of economy, community, and environment identified by Jane Jacobs and others. This more ‘ecological’ understanding of connectedness favors solutions that bring together many kinds of skills and knowledge, challenging disciplinary silos and generating new practices and tools.

Ken Greenberg is an urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto and Principal of Greenberg Consultants. For over three decades he has played a pivotal role on public and private assignments in urban settings throughout North America and Europe, focusing on the rejuvenation of downtowns, waterfronts, neighborhoods and on campus master planning, regional growth management, and new community planning. Cities as diverse as Toronto, Hartford, Amsterdam, New York, Boston, Montréal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, St. Louis, Washington DC, Paris, Detroit, Saint Paul and San Juan Puerto Rico have benefited from his advocacy and passion for restoring the vitality, relevance and sustainability of the public realm in urban life. In each city, with each project, his strategic, consensus-building approach has led to coordinated planning and a renewed focus on urban design. He is the recipient of the 2010 American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Award for public design excellence and the author of Walking Home: the Life and Lessons of a City Builder published by Random House.

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