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  • Michael Mehaffy

60th IMCL conference in Newport, RI announces rich program and tour options, as deadline approaches for discount registration

Updated: Mar 26

Tours include a bike trip through Newport to see its street improvements, and a walking tour of downtown Providence and its many innovative new projects.

Tours will be hosted by Bike Newport, and by a consortium of Providence firms active in redevelopment of its livable and beautiful downtown core

NEWPORT, RI (March 25th) - The 60th International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) conference, which will take place here in a little over one month, will include guided tour offerings before the opening reception on Friday, April 26th, and also on Monday, April 29th, after the closing party the evening before.

The rich lineup of frontier urban topics covered in the conference will include new research and case studies, and new tools and strategies for public space, placemaking, urban resilience, housing affordability and diversity, zoning code reform, street and transportation reform, aesthetics and livability, and livable cities and towns for ALL. Speakers include leading researchers, city officials, practitioners, NGO heads and others working to build a new generation of more livable, humane, ecological cities, towns and suburbs.

Partners and participating organizations in the conference include The King's Foundation (UK), UN-Habitat, the Congress for the New Urbanism, the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture, and Urbanism (INTBAU), the US chapter if INTBAU, HealthBridge Canada, The Seaside Institute, PlacemakingX, The Urban Guild, and local institutions including the Rhode Island Department of Health, Bike Newport, and Roger Williams University, as well as others to be announced shortly.

We will gather at the historic Bois Doré estate, generously provided by our hosts, Fairfax and Sammons Architects. The venue is centrally located in Newport, in walking distance of many hotels, restaurants and shops. Newport is easily accessible by train, bus or car from New York, Boston or Providence.

The current draft program can be viewed here (subject to final adjustments):

Registration is currently open for the discounted rate through March 31. After April 1, the regular registration fee will increase by $100.00 USD. For more information and to register, visit the conference web page:

Registered attendees are also invited to sign up for tours on Friday the 26th, or Monday the 29th, to experience the wealth of rich case studies in Newport and Providence. The IMCL conference series has always located in beautiful, instructive case study locales that allow immersive learning and peer-to-peer exchanges.

On Friday, local bikability advocates at Bike Newport will lead a 2-hour bike tour from 2 to 4PM. Attendees will walk to their location at 62 Broadway in Newport (about half an hour walk from the conference venue, Bois Doré, on a beautiful and instructive path) and then depart for a two-hour ride, returning in time to walk back to Bois Doré for the opening reception at 5PM.

Newport is home to more colonial buildings than any other city in the US. Participants will visit the major sites by bicycle on an easy ride that is informative and fun.

Rhode Island is called the "Cradle of the American Soul" and in many ways, Newport was its heart. From its beginning, freedom of religion (heresy to some) and democracy have been cornerstone concepts on which the city was built, and informed America's founding principles.

This history can be experienced and explored on our tour when we visit the oldest synagogue in the US, the 1699 Quaker Meeting House, colonial neighborhoods, cemeteries, and of course the iconic Newport Tower, whose origin is still a source of argument today. We will also see the oldest tavern in the US, owned by a notorious pirate.

Bike Newport's "Traffic Garden" where kids (and also adults!) can learn safe biking skills.

Your tour guide, Art Spivack, is an easy-going local college professor with extensive knowledge of the political, religious, architectural and cultural history (as well as the long history of local gossip). He'll be joined by Bari Freeman, the Executive Director of Bike Newport, who'll sprinkle the experience with "livable city" context along the way.

On Monday, attendees can join civic leaders, visionary developers and architects to explore the urban renaissance that has come to downtown Providence. Buff Chace of Cornish Associates, Brent Runyon of Runyon Heritage Associates, Don Powers of Union Studio Architects, and others will lead this walking tour of downtown sites, including a lunch stop at a local eatery (purchase your own preferred meal).

This tour will illuminate changes in the urban environment in the last fifty years that have made downtown Providence a more livable city. You'll learn about how moving railroads, rivers and highways contributed to Providence’s renaissance. Learn from planners and designers how a 1990 master plan helped change a sluggish downtown into a vibrant, livable neighborhood.

Downtown Providence, a remarkable regeneration of a livable neighborhood

Tour stops will include: Providence Station, Waterplace Park, Kennedy Plaza, the Providence Arcade (America’s oldest extant indoor shopping mall), the Industrial Trust Building, and Westminster Street.

The tour will feature innovative affordable housing work by Don Powers and his firm, Union Studio Architects. The work was the subject of a recent profile in Traditional Building magazine, available online here:

The tour will begin and end at the clock tower of Providence Station, the downtown stop for Amtrak and MBTA (22 minutes by train from Kingston Station, across from Newport). Attendees can take an Uber or bus from Newport to Kingston Station, and/or take a bus directly from Newport to Providence.

Registered attendees and up to one guest can sign up for tours here:

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE SERIES: The IMCL conferences were begun in 1985 by Henry Lennard, a Viennese medical sociologist, and Suzanne Lennard, a British architectural and urban scholar. The Lennards were passionate about sharing the best evidence-based lessons of great cities and towns to improve the quality of life for all. To do it, they brought together many of the world’s most innovative and successful mayors, planners, economic development specialists, designers, developers, NGO officials, and researchers and scholars. In the years since its founding, the IMCL has become a unique peer-to-peer gathering of city leaders and researchers, sharing the latest tools and strategies to build a new generation of more livable, ecological, equitable, beautiful generation of cities, towns and suburbs. The conferences are typically hosted in beautiful, intimate and instructive case-study locales in the US or Europe, with attendees sharing lessons from all parts of the world.

The IMCL conferences are produced by the Lennard Institute for Livable Cities, a US 501(c)3 public benefit corporation. All donations and sponsorship contributions are deductible under US tax rules. See also



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