The Innovative Metropolis

Symposium on sustainable urban design and economic growth

Posted by Liam Otten, The Record February 18, 2013

Access webcast archive of the symposium

Sustainability and economic growth: two desirable goals that should demonstrably complement one another, especially in our cities.

But how?

On Thursday, February 21, the Sam Fox School and the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution presented The Innovative Metropolis: Fostering Economic Competitiveness Through Sustainable Urban Design.

The daylong symposium, held at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., explored the intersections between sustainable urban design and economic growth, as well as the implications of both for design practice and public policy.

Peter MacKeith, associate dean of the Sam Fox School and associate professor of architecture, in partnership with Rob Puentes, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, organized the symposium. Nicole Allen, special assistant to Sam Fox School dean Carmon Colangelo, also played a significant role in guiding the planning of the daylong event.

Funding was secured through the joint WUSTL-Brookings Academic Venture Fund, in addition to major support from the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Foundation and Mr. Gerry Ohrstrom.

"Teaching and research at the Sam Fox School are informed by our collaborative and interdisciplinary mission," says Colangelo, the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts. "Our focus on and growing strength in the area of sustainable urban design is a result of strong research and knowledge creation among our urban planners, architects, and designers in partnership with national and international policy makers. The Innovative Metropolis builds on the significant work of associate professor John Hoal, chair of our Master of Urban Design program, and the momentum generated by our fall symposium URBANISM(S): Sustainable Cities for One Planet, which explored the future of global urban design."

"The Brookings Institution has an intense focus on U.S. urban and metropolitan issues," MacKeith says. "We've identified this mutual common ground with the Brookings, and hope to explore best practices in sustainable strategies and tactics that might foster economic development and, by extension, job growth.

"Good design, good public policy, and a good economy should mutually reinforce each other," he adds. "Ideally, there should be a constant toggling back-and-forth, so that one proposes design with considering policy implications, and proposes new policy while considering design."

WUSTL Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton and Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution, opened the symposium with welcome remarks.

Bruce Lindsey, dean of architecture and the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Community Collaboration, and Hoal led a Sam Fox School team of participants, including Christof Jantzen, WUSTL's I-CARES Professor of Practice; assistant professor of architecture Seng Kuan; and visiting professor of urban design Oliver Schulze, principal of Schulze + Grassov in Copenhagen.

In all, participants included more than 20 domestic and international experts, representing both organizers, as well as the London School of Economics and Political Science, Harvard's Graduate School of Design, and other institutions and private firms.

Though hosted by the Brookings Institution, the symposium was available to the campus community and the public at large via web simulcast. (To access the free webcast archive, click here.)

"The aim here is to thread together the virtues of all that we do in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and art with the interests and expertise of the Brookings Institution—and so to produce an even stronger fabric for education, professional practice and metropolitan policy," MacKeith says.