Facing our urban future: what to expect
By Linda Copman
Hundreds of Cornellians in cities and communities around the world tuned in to Virtual Reunion 2021 on June 11, to hear from a panel of experts about The Future of Cities.
While online participants waited for the livestream to begin, Bobbie Horowitz ’61 typed in the chat, “Hope the future of my city (NYC) is as bright as it can possibly be!”
As cities across the globe reopen after the pandemic, they face urgent challenges around how to maintain public health—while safely and smartly scaling up public transit, commerce, tourism, education, and dining. Alongside these pandemic-related challenges, they must also grapple with longstanding issues of inequity, aging infrastructure, lack of basic services, and threats posed by a changing climate.
J. Meejin Yoon ’95, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP), explained in her opening remarks, “Cities are the critical inflection point. Climate adaptation, access and affordability, economic growth, infrastructure, and public health are among the many layered challenges facing cities today.”
In an hour-long conversation, three experts shared their thoughts on the challenges facing our cities over the next three decades: Victoria Beard, Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning in AAP; Anthony Townsend, Urbanist-in-Residence, Urban Tech Hub at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech; and Vishaan Chakrabarti ’88, William W. Wurster Dean, College of Environmental Design University of California, Berkeley. The event was moderated by David Folkenflik ’91, media correspondent for National Public Radio, who celebrated his 30th Cornell Reunion this year.