Legacy Cities Design Initiative
Topic(s)
As part of its Legacy Cities Design Initiative and in parternship with lead organizer The J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City, The American Assembly is co-hosting this year's prestigious Bruner Loeb Forum on "Legacy City Design." The project and forum will compliment The Assembly's ongoing legacy cities policy work with specific attention on the role of design in the remaking of our nation's legacy cities.  
 
Please visit the Legacy City Design website  for a collection of case studies and more information.  A public program will be held November 7, 2013; 6:00pm – 8:00pm at 1 Woodward Avenue, 2nd Floor; Detroit, MI 48226. Registration for the public program is required and is available here.
 
America’s shrinking cities, or “Legacy Cities” as coined by The American Assembly at Columbia University, are defined as cities that have lost greater than 20% of their population from peak. These cities share the common challenges of continual population decline, rapid rates of property abandonment and land vacancy, diminished government resources, and antiquated land use regulations and development protocols.
 
In 2011, The American Assembly published Rebuilding America’s Legacy Cities, a collection of policy and regulatory reforms necessary to “move the needle” on urban transformation for this unique group of cities. The TAA is a now partnering with the JMBC to launch the Legacy City Design Initiative. This year’s Forum supports this new initiative by providing opportunities for these cities to network around design and identify what’s working, what’s not and what’s new on the horizon. Through a format that includes on-site comparative case studies between cities, featured guest speaker dialogues, and an interactive work session, participants will consider and develop design innovations around the following key themes and questions:
 
Discussion Topics
01. Vacancy, Density, and New Neighborhoods
The landscape of legacy cites are most commonly understood by the levels of vacancy – low vacancy (<20%), moderate vacancy (20%-50%), and high vacancy (>50%). Since cities do not have the luxury of uprooting people into neatly consolidated urban “villages”, new zoning, housing, commercial and open space design strategies, especially in moderate vacancy areas where there are still high numbers of residents, are needed to redefine what new urban neighborhoods and efficient patterns of distributed densification might look like.
 
02. Vacancy, Weeds and Infrastructure
Traditional infrastructural systems are typically focused on delivering only one service at a time, often at the expense of the environment and public health, resulting in residential displacement. Additionally, depopulation has not only lessened the demand on land use, but also on roadways, water systems and even transit usage, leaving cities with an over abundance of underutilized infrastructure. Identifying design strategies that repurpose and transform vacant land, underused roads, and successional landscapes into long-term productive uses that contribute to the city's economic, social and environmental health are paramount.
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Al Gore and Community Capitalism

Al Gore: “The greatest untapped markets In the world are right here at home, in our distressed communities," in support of The American Assembly's 1997 report on "Community Capitalism" and the future New Markets Tax Credit.