Notes from The Innovative Metropolis: Fostering Economic Competitiveness Through Sustainable Urban Design

International
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Left to right: Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow & Director, Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, The Brookings Institution; Oliver Schulze, Principal of Schulze + Grassov (Copenhagen); Chandra Brown, president of United Streetcar (Portland); and Jonathan Solomon, Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Syracuse University (Hong Kong). (Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

Covering ground from Sao Paulo to Copenhagen, a set of multi-disciplinary discussions were convened in Washington, DC yesterday by the Brookings Institution and the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St. Louis, to explore the synergies between urban design, policy, and finance required to realize innovation in the way we construct our environment. The discussions focused on global case studies relative to urban mobility, technology, and environmental adaptation, against the backdrop of global urbanization and climate change.

While lessons were gleamed, it was clear that what was needed was “not one urbanism,” as Dean Moshen Mostafavi of the Harvard GSD put it, but “Urbanisms,” tuned to the “logic” of a given geography, climate, and culture. While existing within larger ecologies that, as Valente Souza of Mexico City asserted, may contain “their own solutions,” cites are, as Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution emphasized “complex economic systems” and any sustainable initiatives must address consumer demands. As Alex Washburn, Chief Urban designer for New York City summarized, “all change is driven by desire.”

Watch videos of the proceedings of “The Innovative Metropolis” on the Brookings Institution website.

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