Why Here, Why Now

The city is a space of promise and peril, community and individual. For much of human history, cities have been the nexus point for social, cultural, and economic trends.


From ancient Athens to Ottoman Istanbul and contemporary San Francisco, cities have operated as a collective canvas where history, art, philosophy, and commerce collide to propel humanity forward. 

As human civilization advances – now clearly visible in the realm of technological innovation – the study and design of cities is following in lock step. Never before has the humble and admittedly mundane field of urban planning and development been a fixture of mainstream debate in the way it is today. From mainstream newspapers to TED talks, people of all backgrounds and from various fields are fascinated by how the construction of their cities influences society and themselves. City authorities and urban planners have taken note and the result is a push towards human-centric urbanism. 

Our cities don’t have to be constructed solely around defence or commerce, as they had been in the past. They can help us become happier and healthier people. As we all become more lonely staring into our smartphones, the urban landscape can offer residents a way to find community.[1] Through subtle planning tricks to get people moving – like some of the fascinating bike share programs popping up in cities from Argentina to Denmark – the city can be our guide to happiness in an increasingly fast-paced and isolated world. 

Cities are home to the majority of the world’s population, generate the majority of global gross domestic product (GDP), and are forecast by the United Nations to explode in growth over the next two decades. Over the next 14 years, there will be another billion urban dwellers globally. By the year 2050, two out of three people in the world will live in cities. With so many people moving to (and between) cities, urbanism as a field of study and realm of debate has taken on new immediacy.[2]

[1] Perin, C. Everything in Its Place: Social Order and Land Use in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977. 

 [2] Cox, Wendall. “The World’s Ten Largest Megacities.” Huffington Post, 17/02/2015, 
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-worlds-ten-largest-me_b_6684694 thing in Its Place: Social Order and Land Use inAmerica