Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Carol Coletta at the A+DEN Conference

It's not what your cities can do for you, it's what you can do for your cities. More specifically, what architecture and design can do for cities in attracting and retaining talent. So, I guess it is what your cities can do for you.

Carol Coletta. Photo by Anne Evans.

This is the second keynote I've heard at an architecture convention in as many months that addresses the importance of knowledge. This time Carol Coletta, President and CEO, CEOs for Cities, referred to it more as talent. Most mayors and city leaders recognize the current race in attracting and retaining talent and so she suggests architects use this to convince policy makers of the importance of good design in the built environment.

In my experience in this regard, which admittedly stems mostly from hearing about others' experience in this regard, there seems to be a universal understanding in economic influences to cities yet there continues to be a disconnect in understanding the role good architecture can play as an influence. Chicago is one of the few lucky exceptions and in hearing what others in attendance from around the nation had to say they were a bit envious.

Ms. Coletta spent significant time addressing the most mobile segment of society 25-34 year olds. The number one thing they look for in a place to live is a city that is clean and attractive. This criteria is followed closely by their ability to live the way they want, green city initiatives, safety, and they want the housing they want to be affordable. That is, they don't want affordable housing, that put out and subsidized by the government. They want whatever housing they want to be affordable, which touches on the stigma that exists with the term "affordable housing". And rightfully so, so much of it is poorly designed. Although there are some gems out there.

Ms. Coletta also mentioned the 2030 plan and the tendency for politicians to verbally commit to something that they know will fall outside their term limits, leaving no incentive for them to follow through. While many mayors have signed on to the 2030 plan, there is no plan of action for implementation. Although I don't think she knows about the Carbon Reduction Plan being proposed to the city by Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architects. It was presented at the CTBUH Conference to much acclaim. The interesting thing was, once you start to investigate what needs to be done to reduce emissions by 50% you realize the extreme measures that need to be taken.

To be continued...

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