The National Urban Design Conference examines the critical value of interdisciplinary collaboration in the built environment, as well as the ways in which the various stakeholders—urban designers, architects, planners, engineers, IT experts, politicians, and communities—can collaborate productively to improve the quality of life for all.
Once, they discussed the potential for establishing a not-for-profit Institute for Urban Design with contributing editor Stan Abercrombie while we were barging along the Canal de l’Est in Eastern France. Stan favoured the notion. Stan listened as we discussed our plans for a World Cities initiative and a journal that would eventually reach people worldwide as Buffalo, our sheepdog mascot, watched from the sidelines. Stan, if not Buffalo, was interested in the proposals’ global scale.
After the conference, Ann Ferebee quickly began recruiting luminaries from the burgeoning urban design field to advance the new organisation. As the first national organisation in the United States to focus exclusively on urban design issues, the Institute was unique in its size and purpose. The institute aimed to bring together scholars and practitioners of diverse backgrounds from various cities worldwide. By 1984, the Institute had established a membership network of over 1,500 of her fellows. Original advisory board members and founders of the Institute and its bimonthly publication, Urban Design International, include Ann Blocker, David Lewis, M. Paul Friedberg, David Wallace, John Howard, Waymin Lu, Alan Jacobs, Moshe Safdie, Theodore Liebman, Jonathan Barnett, John Bell, Jane Thompson. Famous graphic designer Milton Glaser, a friend of Ferebee and creator of I(love) NY Design, was his consultant for magazine designs and created the Institute’s iconic logo.
From the outset, the Institute’s major project has been to bring together key figures in urban design from around the world for international design conferences and world city tours. You can discuss the issue. The first international design conference was held in Philadelphia in Collaboration with James Nelson Kise, Norman Day, and the University of Pennsylvania. Subsequent meetings were held in Boston, Galveston, Toronto, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. World Cities Tours, which took city planners to places of architectural and cultural significance to study specific world cities, included Paris in 1979. 1980 Helsinki. And Berlin in 1981, eight years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Through its International Design Conference and Global Cities Program, the New York-based institute has begun a decades-long effort to look domestically and internationally.
Beginning in 1990, Institute Fellows were invited to the semi-annual Fellow Dinner. Usually held in New York, the Fellows Dinner invited designers, city planners, and developers worldwide to present important urban planning projects. Much of it came later. At a dinner in February 1998, the development of London‘s Thames embankment was proposed as a model for New York’s plans to develop parks on the banks of the Hudson. Today, Hudson River Park receives 17 million annual visitors, and the Urban Design Forum continues to hold seminars between New York and London every two years to exchange best practices. In 2002, grantees met to discuss the future of Lower Manhattan after 9/11 in a session titled “As It Was, Not as It Was”. Twenty-five experts and design groups made proposals to build a new dynamic financial district while preserving the memory of the former World Trade Center site. The PROUN Space Studio team proposed building two memorial light towers. This light tower is now installed annually to mark the attack’s first anniversary.
In 2004, James Corner, one of the designers of the High Line, presented plans for the elevated line and asked the Fellows, “How do you keep this place a mystery?”. Natural spaces and platform walking areas are blurred. It’s an idea visitors experience today as they pass through the natural landscape of the High Line and walk the sloping paths within it. In 2005, the Board of Directors of the Institute for Urban Design established a new organisation, the Forum for Urban Design. For almost ten years, both organisations have held symposiums to discuss the future of urban living. The Forum, led by David Haskell and Daniel Rose, held its first New Orleans rebuild event in October 2005, just two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. New Orleans planners and architects emphasised the need to preserve the city’s unique spirit and character while making the built environment more resilient.
In 2007, the institute, led by Olympia Cazi and Michael Sorkin, responded to Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, the city’s official plan to make New York the world’s most sustainable metropolis by 2030. Hosted a conference titled New York 2030. His 40 contributors presented different visions on how to implement and customise PlaNYC. In 2007, the Forum hosted the first international conference of urban planners, the Urban Conference on Urban Planning, bringing together city planners from Boston, London, New York, Singapore, Toronto and Vancouver on public space design challenges in cities. Discussed. The following year, the Forum promoted the development of New York’s bike-sharing program by surveying bike-sharing programs in cities from Barcelona to Paris to Stockholm. In partnership with Art and Architecture’s Storefront, the forum sponsored his two free bike weekends five years before the official launch of his Citi Bike and how bike sharing works in New York.