A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Develop and Promote New National Thinking and Design Models for Livable 21st Century Cities
The Architecture Research Institute in collaboraton with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture

Project Purpose and Objective:
This proposal outlines a pilot program designed to provide planning leadership and information to city planners, government officials, architects, and academia in order to promote and implement practical solutions that address these extraordinary times. The objective is to develop new design ideas and policy positions that create safe, mixed-use, mixed-income, multi-cultural, sustainable, pedestrian-friendly, less car-dependent, livable cities. While this pilot project is targeted to New York, the research and findings will be applicable to most global cities.

There is renewed interest in cities across America – for the first time in decades, many urban areas like New York experienced increased population growth. Much has been written about urbanism and cities within the past five years. Yet, there has been little in the way of new thinking or concepts to apply to the design of livable cities. In essence, there is a dearth of information to inform a city’s user - the public - on what constitutes sound urban practice and design. Current discussions about urbanism have made little effort to involve a wider audience and to promote public understanding of what makes a city livable.

This project will utilize a methodology that develops a new urban discourse by initiating a dialog among the disciplines that survey and analyze the urban condition e.g. social scientists, environmental psychologists, urban anthropologists, urban geographers, human behavioral scientists, ecologists, biologists, political scientists, as well as architectural educators, architects/designers, city planners, engineers (traffic, infrastructure), and landscape architects. Through meetings, workshops, and seminars, ideas developed through this discourse will be presented and discussed with city planners, the building industry, mayors, governors, and the public to test their validity. Final concepts and models would then be presented to policy makers.

The project will be done in three phases. Final documentation of Phase One will be compiled and illustrated based upon findings of the workshops, meetings and a seminar. This grant request is to fund Phase One, which includes an important action plan to put information on urbanism in the 21st century into the public purview. Findings and recommendations garnered will be used to inform public debate and planning and design activities in designated pilot cities. Importantly, new urban solutions can be disseminated via the Internet to reach wide-ranging, uninformed communities who would benefit from an understanding of what constitutes good urban design today.

These findings and recommendations will be the basis of, and relate directly to, the mission of the entire project—creating planning and policy guidelines and actions to make large cities safe and livable.

Phase One
Background statistical data and a survey of relevant literature will be circulated and used in meetings and workshops. A team from the Architecture Research Institute (the Institute) and the Initiative for Architectural Research (IAR) will organize and conduct the meetings, workshops and seminar. The discourse will begin with meetings with representatives of related disciplines culminating in a cross-disciplinary seminar. The results of these meetings and final seminar will be published electronically. Concurrently, a public relations strategy will be developed to disseminate information to all interested parties and the press.

Prior to Phase Two, feedback from a public review panel will be incorporated into published findings, which will also be published electronicaly. The panel will include representatives from community boards, neighborhood associations and members from the public at large.

All findings will be circulated to planning directors of the selected cities. Each of these planning directors will then be contacted individually to discuss ways to begin to utilize the findings.

The pilot cities will be New York and San Francisco.

Phase Two
Recommendations based on findings will be made and presented to industry representatives, such as the Urban Land Institute, National Association of Home Builders, Fannie Mae, etc. A response survey will document their views.

A second cross-disciplinary workshop will convene to consider industry ideas. Recommendations developed will be published on the Internet.

Phase Three
Revised documentation will be presented to the newly-formed National Mayor’s Institute, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and U.S. Governor’s Association. Their responses will be documented and circulated for review. Policy recommendations will be developed and distributed to policy makers for implementation.