Remaking Cities Congress Re-visited: 25 Years Later and in Pittsburgh, Where it All Began

by on October 17, 2013
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Larry Ripple Photography, downtown Pittsburgh view from Southside Works

At the request of HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, renowned urbanists and thought leaders from North America and Europe convened in Pittsburgh  in 1988 to discuss the future of post-industrial cities in an inaugural  Remaking Cities Conference. Now, 25 years later, some of the same individuals and fresh ones are reconvening  Oct. 16 – 18, 2013 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. The purpose:  to assess what has and hasn’t worked over the past 25 years, to share best practices from both sides of the Atlantic,  and to propose and vote on recommendations for the future of post-industrial cities, such as Pittsburgh, which has remained a shining model of transformation and  – as President Barack Obama said –  a “model for turning the page to a 21st-century economy.”

Because of its transformational achievements and economic stability, even during a deep global recession, Pittsburgh can  serve as an exemplary “living laboratory” for the Congress.  Numerous mobile workshops for delegates will involve site visits and real-world exposure to how Pittsburgh has made recommendations from the 1988 Congress work to the city’s advantage.  According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, recommendations  from the 1988 Congress encompassed a regional vision for transformation based on public-private partnership opportunities; diversification of the economy; and investments in Pittsburgh’s major assets, such as historic neighborhoods, main streets, rivers and brownfield sites.  Pittsburgh has addressed all of these.  Some are faits accomplies; others are still works in progress.   The Monongahela waterfront and Southside Works are two prime examples of catalytic redevelopment projects that have been completed.

The Remaking Cities Congress is organized by the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, in partnership with the American Institute of Architects. Workshops held this week will combine working and mobile meetings, as well as dinners and presentations highlighting global case studies focused on cities such as Bilbao, Detroit and Turin; success in the Pittsburgh region; and practices to position post-industrial cities for further success in an ever-changing global economy. Speakers include architect and developer George Ferguson, who recently won election as mayor of Bristol, England – a city which has been engaged in intensive neighborhood renewal efforts.  And, of course, the Honorary Chair is HRH, Charles, Prince of Wales, who addressed the convocation last night via pre-recorded video message.

For more information on this week’s activities, workshops and presentations, visit the Remaking Cities website.   For more information about the Pittsburgh region’s transformation and current and future business opportunities here, visit the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance website.