Sunday, May 15, 2016

The 2016 Making Great Cities Program

Fred Kent
The AIA-SWO Design Excellence Committee invites everyone with an interest in fostering vibrant downtown development to this year’s installment of the Making Great Cities lecture series. The 2016 edition will feature Fred Kent, a leading authority on revitalizing city spaces and one of the foremost thinkers in livability, smart growth, and the future of the city. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 25 at The Studio in the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene. 
Fred is the founder and President of Project for Public Spaces (PPS). The organization is the central hub of the global place-making movement, connecting people to ideas, expertise, and partners who share a passion for creating vital places. 
Fred is known throughout the world as a dynamic speaker and prolific ideas man. Traveling over 150,000 miles each year, Fred offers technical assistance to communities and gives major talks across North America and internationally. Each year, he and the PPS staff give presentations or train more than 10,000 people in place-making techniques. 
Since 1975, Fred has worked on hundreds of projects, including Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square in New York City; Discovery Green in Houston, TX; Campus Martius in Detroit, MI; Main Street in Littleton, NH; Granville Island in Vancouver, BC, Canada; and a city-wide place-making campaign in Chicago, IL. 
Fred has spoken to audiences around the world, including the Urban Redevelopment Agency and the National Parks Board in Singapore, representatives from the City of Hong Kong, the Ministry of Environment in Norway, the leading Dutch transportation organization in the Netherlands, Greenspace in Scotland, numerous transportation professionals from US State DOTs, and thousands of community and neighborhood groups across the U.S. 
I first became aware of Fred Kent in 2009, when he engaged in the infamous “smackdown” with Frank Gehry at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Challenged by Fred to explain why “iconic” buildings often fell short when it came to creating pleasant urban places, Gehry “waved his hand in a dismissive gesture, much as Louis XIV might have used to wave away some offending underling” as national correspondent for The Atlantic James Fallows later recounted. The comments that followed on Fallow’s blog stirred a heated debate that continues today between proponents of provocative form-making and those who advocate first and foremost for congenial urban spaces. 
I’ve no doubt Fred’s presentation will be engaging and prompt a lively discussion. I expect him to persuasively emphasize the importance of designing as if people mattered. From all accounts Fred is nothing if not a zealous advocate for public spaces that build stronger communities. I’ll be there to see him and hope you will be there too.
What: The 2016 Making Great Cities Program featuring Fred Kent of the Project for Public Spaces
When: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
  • 5:30pm: Reception
  • 6:00pm: Presentation
Where: The Studio at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Eugene
Cost:  Free to everyone; $10 for professional CEU credit
Sponsorship: The AIA-SWO Design Excellence Committee needs partners to help sponsor Fred’s visit. The committee depend upon the generosity of our community and businesses to support its Design Excellence series of prominent speakers. This program informs and educates the community on topics covering the built and designed environments. Any support you are willing to provide will help the committee cover the costs for the speaker and his travel expenses. In return, you’ll be included in the event’s marketing material, as well as other sponsorship acknowledgment options. Contact Katie Hall for more information.
A big thank you to Dustrud Architecture and the National Association of Realtors for their contributions in support of this event.

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