Remaking Cities Revisited
To change a neighborhood, start with the neighbors.
That and other best practices are what the Remaking Cities Congress is discussing while in Pittsburgh.
For the 25 years since the 1988 Remaking Cities Conference focused on the precipitous decline of industrial regions in the United States and Europe, Carnegie Mellon University has been a part of the discussion.
"Healthy communities are walkable, compact, mixed use, mixed income, served by transit, and close to nature (parks and trails)," said Don Carter, director of Carnegie Mellon's Remaking Cities Institute. "The irony is that we had those neighborhoods all along — our historic neighborhoods designed and built before World War II and before suburban sprawl."
An urban design research center in the School of Architecture, the Remaking Cities Institute conducts international research in sustainable development and helping citizens be part of the planning process. Carter is co-chair of the congress.
Some 300 leading urbanists from North America and Europe are in attendance at the event through Oct. 18.
When the 1988 conference convened, His Royal Highness, Prince Charles of Wales, attended as honorary chair and keynote speaker. Much has happened since then, not only in the United States but also in Europe, with positive transformations in some cases, such as Pittsburgh, and stagnation and decline in others, such as Detroit.
"We know more than we knew 25 years ago, but we still have a long way to go — regionally, nationally and internationally," Carter said. "Reconvening now is our way to open the doors to the future for continued improvements, policies and guidelines that will enable us to successfully manage redevelopment and revitalization of our cities, regardless of where they are in our world."
This week, participants have been looking at what has been effective and what has not since 1988 as they share best practices from around the world and brainstorm new urban revitalization strategies.
Prince Charles also participated this year. He delivered the keynote address via a pre-recorded video, which features the urban regeneration work of his foundations in struggling post-industrial cities in England, Wales and Scotland.
The core of the Remaking Cities Congress is being spent in facilitated working sessions. Case studies of similar regions were the focus of workshops at the conference. For example, the same issues that have plagued Detroit also affected Turin, which is the center of Italian auto manufacturing.
A post-congress book will be published documenting the proceedings and the case studies.