About the Institute-Remaking Cities Institute - Carnegie Mellon University

Remaking Cities Institute®

The Remaking Cities Institute® urban design research center grew out of the Urban Laboratory®, a fifth year community and urban design studio in the CMU School of Architecture.  The Urban Laboratory focused on projects in the Pittsburgh region.  During the past twenty two years, Urban Laboratory studios have completed undergraduate student projects in numerous communities in the Pittsburgh region, engaging hundreds of government officials, design professionals, community groups, and concerned citizens in collective visioning processes.  

The Remaking Cities Institute was formed in 2006 in response to the demand for a research link between academic work and urban development, not only in the Pittsburgh region but internationally. Also in 2006 the Urban Laboratory studios were extended to include graduate students who engage in urban design research projects, both in the Pittsburgh region and internationally (Canada, Qatar, and Rwanda, most recently).

According to the United Nations, 50% of the world's 7 billion people reside in cities, and that percentage will rise to 75% of 9 billion people by 2050.  The implications of this are far-reaching for cities and society as a whole.  The growth of cities will create new opportunities for economic prosperity and technological advancement.  However, environmental degradation and inadequate urban infrastructure will pose dangers to the health and quality of life of many of these burgeoning cities.  At the other end of the growth spectrum are post-industrial cities facing depopulation and abandonment as basic industries and employment centers diminish or disappear.  And finally, there are cities that face destruction in natural disasters or war.

Urban design will play a central role in each of the above scenarios (growth, decline, and disaster), each with its unique physical conditions and social context.  Since its institutionalization as a profession in the early 1960s, urban design has employed collective design visioning, public participation, physical analysis tools, and multi-disciplinary teams to reach more equitable social, economic, and environmental outcomes. The Remaking Cities Institute and the Urban Laboratory will continue to document and research best practices in urban design internationally.  They will also advance the theory and practice of urban design by completing funded research projects that test and evaluate innovative approaches to place-making, community development, and sustainable development.

The mission of the Remaking Cities Institute and the Urban Laboratory has three components: 1) international research in urbanism; 2) education in urbanism; and 3) Pittsburgh regional impact.