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  • Michael Mehaffy

Plenary and breakout speakers, topics announced for the 60th IMCL in Newport, RI, April 26-28.

Updated: Feb 19

Topics will include the latest developments in walkability, bikability and and street design, code reform and ending exclusionary zoning, climate-friendly planning, urban resilience, affordability, equity, placemaking and livability, housing policy and land use law, ecological development, and much more.

Above, Newport's historic Thames Street, near the IMCL conference venue.


NEWPORT, RI USA: The initial listing of plenary speakers has just been announced for the 60th International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) conference here April 26-28, on "Making Cities Livable: Research Into Communication, and ACTION."

Invited keynote speakers are renowned researchers and thought leaders in city planning, anthropology, environmental psychology, sociology, law, health, and other fields. Setha Low is Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Psychology at City University in New York, and author of many books including Why Public Space Matters. She leads the Public Space Research Group at the Graduate School of CUNY. Emily Talen is Professor of Urbanism at the University of Chicago, and author of Our Urban Future: An Active Learning Guide to Sustainable Cities, and Design for Social Diversity. Vikas Mehta is Fruth/Gemini Chair in Urban Design at the University of Cincinnati, and a widely published scholar on street design and public space. David Brain is Professor of Sociology at New College of Florida. Patrick Condon is Professor of Urban Design at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Other plenary speakers are leaders at major global NGOs. José Chong is Leader of the Global Public Space Programme for UN-Habitat. Ben Bolgar is Senior Director at The King's Foundation (formerly The Prince's Foundation), which is active in the Commonwealth Association of Planners and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Commonwealth includes many Global South countries (the King is its head). Mallory Baches is President of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a globally influential proponent of walkable mixed use and new urbanism.

The Call for Abstracts was also closed on January 31, and 46 abstracts were selected, featuring research papers, case studies and workshops. Topics include urban resilience, affordability, equity, walkability and transportation reform, placemaking and livability, housing policy and land use law, and sustainable development. The speakers represent an international, cross-sector gathering of researchers, city leaders, practitioners and NGO heads, drawn from every continent except Antarctica.

The International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) conference series was begun in 1985 by Suzanne Lennard, a British architectural and urban scholar, and Henry Lennard, a Viennese medical sociologist. 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, typically hosted in beautiful, intimate and instructive case-study locales.

The 60th IMCL conference will be held in the beautiful Bois Doré estate in Newport, through the generous hosting of Fairfax and Sammons Architects. Partners include The Congress for the New Urbanism, The King's Foundation (formerly The Prince's Foundation), UN-Habitat, HealthBridge Canada, the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU), PlacemakingX, the Urban Guild, and other leading international NGOs and universities.

The conference runs through Saturday and Sunday, with a reception on Friday evening, and optional tours on Friday and Monday. More information is at

Plenary speakers include (partial list):



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