top of page
  • Michael Mehaffy

Join us in Paris for a premier international gathering!

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Announcing the venue for the next International Making Cities Livable conference series: a fascinating European case study of suburban retrofit

Join us for an interdisciplinary, cross-sector gathering of city leaders, researchers, planners, designers and builders, dedicated to making better-quality cities, towns and suburbs since 1985. We will discuss emerging challenges and effective new solutions as well as timeless lessons, in a beautiful case study setting.

"I heard nothing but positive comments...I learned so much and so enjoyed myself.” - Christopher Leinberger, Professor Emeritus, George Washington University, 2021 attendee




“Congratulations on an amazing conference… I am really impressed by the organization and smooth operation of the conference itself. The level of the discussion was higher than other conferences I regularly attend…”

- David Brain, Professor of Sociology, New College of Florida, 2021 attendee


Architecture and the Edges of Public Space: Tools and Strategies for a New Urban Agenda


The agenda of making more livable, ecological cities containing more walkable streets and thriving public spaces is now widely embraced. Among other milestones, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda – adopted by acclamation by all 193 member countries of the UN – are now both widely endorsed international frameworks embodying these goals. The race is on to identify and share tools and strategies to implement this agenda in local contexts, including the retrofitting of existing cities, towns, and suburbs. To do this, the IMCL continues to offer a high-level peer-to-peer exchange of the latest effective tools and strategies.

Less often discussed – and a key topic of this upcoming IMCL conference – is the role of architecture in forming the edges of successful public spaces. Where architecture is critically examined at all, debate often breaks down into “style wars,” battles of artistic taste, and arguments over whose expressions are valid architectures “of our time.” Evidence shows, however, that the public is often disenchanted with the results of these parochial professional concerns, and there is a growing sense of the irrelevance and even reactionary character of elite and “star” architectures. A growing number of critics have called for a major reassessment – what critic Peter Buchanan has called a “big rethink” – in charting a more responsive, urban-oriented direction for contemporary architecture.

At just this historical moment, research into how people react to public spaces is casting a new light on the role of architecture as an important supportive structure for human social interaction, economic exchange and well-being. There are implications for related goals like greater walkability, healthier and lower-carbon lifestyles, and more resource-conserving forms of settlement. Topics like neuroscience, biophilia, evidence-based design, urban network science, complexity science, and related developments, are opening up exciting new possibilities, and pointing the way to a more vital, more relevant kind of architecture for more livable, beautiful, ecological cities.

“As a first-time IMCL attendee, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the conference experience: the variety of professions, backgrounds and perspectives represented... I greatly look forward to attending again next year!”

- Steve Knight, Principal, David M. Schwarz Architects, 2021 attendee

JOIN US IN THE PARIS REGION! We will examine local innovations and achievements, as well as current challenges and debates. We will gather in the suburb of Le Plessis-Robinson, six miles from the center of Paris, and an instructive case study of suburban retrofit, transforming from a monocultural bedroom community to a walkable, diverse, mixed-use town. Le Plessis-Robinson has also used supportive architecture in a local vernacular to help create thriving new public spaces, markets, parks and streets. We will hear from leaders in that transformation, and share their lessons. We will also hear from many other city and suburb leaders about their challenges and successes.

“This conference is about bringing together the ‘doers’ - a blend of academic leaders, elected officials, city planners, engineers and developers, non-profit leaders, and citizens…Thought provoking discussions and great visuals help convey how to plan better public spaces, transportation patterns and other city design tools to help compete among the best.”

- James Brainard, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana (host of the 2021 conference)

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. Early-bird registration is $150 USD below the full price registration (currently $595 USD or €505 EUR, full price is $745 USD or €630 EUR). We will have more details soon about the conference venue, hotel options, and other information.

JOIN US FOR THE STUDY TOUR AFTER THE CONFERENCE. In addition to short tours of the Paris region during the conference, we will also offer an extended study tour of southern France during the week after the conference ends. “The Genius of the European Square: Public Spaces in Provence and Languedoc, France,” will include talks and walking tours of some of the most fascinating and beautiful places in southern France. You can place your name on a non-binding reservation list now. The group size will be small, facilitating discussions and “face time” with guides, so we encourage you to email with your name and affiliations now at

"It was inspiring to learn so much about creating more livable communities from the many committed speakers at the conference.”

- David and Nancy Woltering, Woltering Community Planning LLC, 2021 attendees


• Architecture and the Edges of Public Space: A New Urban Agenda for Responsive Design?

• Tools and Strategies for Retrofitting Suburbia

• Cities and Towns after COVID: Lessons for Resilience

• The Structure of Public Spaces, and the Importance of Social and Spatial Networks

• Walkable, Multi-Modal 15-minute Neighborhoods

• Polycentric Regions Versus Overheated (and Unaffordable) Cores

• Promoting Healthy Neighborhoods, and Lessons from COVID-19

• Climate Change, Adaptation, Mitigation, and Urban Resilience

• Implementing the New Urban Agenda, Thinking Globally and Acting Locally

• Learning from Informality and Slum Upgrading

• Learning from Le Plessis-Robinson, France, Europe – and Each Other

ABOUT THE IMCL: Begun in 1985, the International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) conference series, hosted by the Lennard Institute for Livable Cities, has become a premier international gathering and resource platform for more livable, humane and ecological cities and towns. Our flagship conferences are held in beautiful and instructive cities hosted by visionary leaders able to share key lessons. We are a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation based in the USA, with alternating events and activities in Europe and other parts of the world.

Our most recent conference in June 2021 received a post-conference attendee evaluation score of 92.6%.

“I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful conference... You put a lot of work in on that conference, and it was very well run.”

- Richard Erganian, Erganian Family Trust

We hope you’ll join us for a very productive and joyful time in the Paris region!

Michael W. Mehaffy, Ph.D., Executive Director

Suzanne C. and Henry L. Lennard Institute for Livable Cities Inc.

Producers of the International Making Cities Livable conferences

A US 501(c)(3) Public Benefit Corporation



bottom of page