September 1, 2022

Mark Your Calendar: Moments You Won't Want to Miss at the Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities Launch Symposium

This September 27–28, "Critical Conversations for Urban Transformation" brings urban leaders and expert design practitioners, scholars, artists, and activists together around some of the most pressing challenges facing cities today to catalyze new ideas on partnership and potential urban futures.

AAP Communications

Aerial view of sunny house roofs surrounded by water and grassland.
Aerial view of Louisiana from Johnny Miller's Unequal Scenes series that will be exhibited as part of the symposium. image / Johnny Miller

What are the most vexing problems facing cities today? What kinds of research and questions would best support urban transformation? What role might creative professionals across and between art and design take in leading the way forward? With the "Critical Conversations for Urban Transformation" symposium, the Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities brings an international roster of civic leaders and expert urban design practitioners, scholars, activists, and artists together with Cornell AAP faculty to respond. 

The center's two-day launch event features participatory panel discussions, the presentation of new research and findings, a stunning exhibition of aerial photography, and an altogether open forum for rethinking lines of inquiry, partnership, and collective efforts to build more equitable, sustainable, and resilient cities now and in the future. 

"We are thrilled to launch the center with this incredible and inspiring group of leaders and urban change agents who are thinking through how we can work collaboratively to link knowledge to action to create the cities we all want and need," noted Victoria A. Beard, inaugural Director of the Mui Ho Center for Cities. "With this convening, we advance the center's overarching mission to create new knowledge and foster partnership across different areas of expertise and modes of action to make more just and sustainable cities a reality."

Sharing Futures

Following a welcome from Beard and AAP Dean J. Meejin Yoon who will share the story and mission of the Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities, the symposium begins with a session that folds the new center into a larger, international conversation among leaders of organizations who together recognize what is at stake as cities continue to grow in proportion to the global, compounding crises that challenge their ability to provide and thrive. The idea: To pool knowledge and resources and work together toward a shared, mutually beneficial urban future. The ask: How? 

CRP Chair Sophie Oldfield will moderate this panel of leaders from the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago, the African Center for Cities, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, the J. Max Bond Center for Urban Futures at City College of New York, and the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism at MIT.

The Big Reveal

Throughout the planning stages leading up to its launch, the spirit of the new Center for Cities at AAP has hinged on inclusion. On day two of the symposium, Beard will share results from the first ever Global Survey of City Leaders, Your City Counts, a series of questions soliciting input from 1000 local government executive leaders from 125 countries on concerns that politicians and the public share including economy, housing, infrastructure, social issues, and finance. CRP Professor Sara Bronin will moderate this panel of mayors from cities as different as Quelimane, Mozambique; San José, California; and Kansas City, Missouri.

Bigger Dreams

The contributions of creative practitioners who work across mediums that inspire, inform, and shape public life in the built environment cannot be overstated. Art Chair Paul Ramírez Jonas will moderate the third and final panel of the symposium which brings artists, architects, and activists together to discuss not only the importance of what they do within urban communities today, but also their "dream future action or creative project, without limits" and vision for how research support and partnership could work to make these dreams realities. 

Unequal Scenes

Photographer and drone journalism pioneer Johnny Miller has photographed some of the most egregious examples of unequal urban development and segregation in 11 countries across both the Global South and the Global North. His series titled Unequal Scenes highlights how inequality in the built environment is "a policy choice" manifested in and reinforced by architecture and urban planning. Sixteen of his images will be on display in the Milstein Hall Dome throughout the event.

Building Resilience

To bring the symposium to a close, architect Miho Mazereeuw, Director of the Urban Risk Lab at MIT, will share insights on how to better understand urban crises and challenges and what design for resilience can do to help secure the future of cities. Mazereeuw is an expert in the field of disaster reconstruction and prevention and is currently working in Haiti, India, Japan, and Chile, collaborating with institutions and organizations in the field and completing a book on infrastructure design, multifunctional public space, and innovative planning strategies in earthquake-prone regions.

Register Now

Registration is now open for this public event. Those who wish to attend but are unable to do so in person may register to participate via Zoom. More information about programming, invited speakers, and the special exhibit is available in the full event listing.


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