Program - WRLDCTY

Come flip the script on urban innovation at WRLDCTY 2023

Meet the world’s leading urban innovators at WRLDCTY 2023 – bold minds who have made it their mission to flip ideas on their heads and take unconventional approaches to experimenting, building and shaping better cities for tomorrow.

From Oct 2-4, we’ll be flipping the script and exploring new approaches to urban innovation through labs, talks, roundtables, experiences and tours in order to build better, more resilient cities that thrive in the face of an uncertain world.

Join in person in New York at The Times Center where you'll be shoulder to shoulder with the world's most imaginative leaders who are impacting the future of cities today. From veterans of real estate and design, to emerging leaders in technology, prepare to be inspired and challenged in this transformational forum.

You can also join virtually from anywhere in the world and listen in on the live talks and presentations alongside a globally connected community of urban innovators.

October 02, 2023
Urban Futures Lab In-Person

The Big Picture: Innovation + Real Impact in a Complex World

Tackling complex challenges in an ever-shifting world is daunting at best. In an era where we’re expected to carve the path towards heroic solutions for the world’s cities, what’s the proven framework? Is there one?

In this workshop we’ll examine the proven principles of innovation, the beauty of complexity, the science of data, and the art of long-term thinking as the core elements of real vs. shadow innovation.

General Check-in In-Person
Turning Things Upside Down to Get Rightside Up In-Person & Virtual

When the way we have done things for generations is no longer working for our cities and communities, we flip the script to adapt, reinvent, and transform.

Keynote: Rewriting the Rulebook In-Person & Virtual

Keynote with globally renowned German architect, Ole Scheeren.

What is Next for Commercial Real Estate? In-Person & Virtual

$1.5 Trillion in commercial real estate mortgages are coming up for renewal in the US alone. Some are predicting a 40% decline in the value of commercial real estate. How do we flip from challenge to opportunity, and what does that look like?

The System is Broken In-Person & Virtual

When the system in place to incentivize and reward development is broken, it’s time to rewrite the values and redefine outcomes.

Urban Innovation in Action In-Person & Virtual

Cities have many challenges, from vacant office buildings to climate change and affordable housing. Yet, there are urban innovations that can be applied as a means to solve these problems. What are four strategies and steps to successfully launch an urban innovation in 90 days?

Networking Break In-Person
Keynote: Creating Adventurous Spaces In-Person & Virtual

Keynote with award-winning architect Fokke Moerel on inclusive design and on how we can uncover unconventional opportunities for innovation.

Fire. Seed. Soil. In-Person & Virtual

Radical new approaches to ecological, social and economic transformation of “underused” space.

Make the Invisible Visible. Getting to Net Zero In-Person & Virtual

Cities around the world are making commitments to cleaner, more resilient and regenerative communities. That means taking a hard look at waste – from food waste to construction, from water to plastics, etc. Cities that effectively reduce waste can cut emissions by upwards of 20%.

World’s Best Cities 2024 Announcement & Reception In-Person

The World’s Best Cities take the stage in NYC as the 8th annual global cities ranking is announced.

Then, connect with a community of impact-driven city-makers at this intimate networking reception.

Day One Continues on the World Stage
World Cities Deep Dive 1 Virtual

Urban Orchards and Food Forests Virtual

Food forests are one of the most ancient forms of land stewardship, and American cities need them now more than ever.

Shaping the Future City Virtual

Laying the foundations for a compelling future while making real progress takes vision, willpower, and a new set of tools and perspectives.

World Cities Deep Dive 2 Virtual

Future-proof sounds like we’re waging war against the future. Future-ready buildings are resilient, adaptive and ready for what’s next.

Super City Virtual

An inspirational guide to AI to finally get the cities we deserve.

Intentional Planning & Design Transforming Honolulu’s Urban Core Virtual

A community effortlessly woven into nature is transforming Honolulu’s urban core, brought to life by a master planner and renowned architects whose thoughtful design strategies elevate a distinct sense of place on the island of Oahu.

World Cities Deep Dive 3 Virtual

October 03, 2023
Keynote: Designing for Positive Transformation In-Person & Virtual

Can architecture and design be a force for positive transformation? Snøhetta believes so, and their thoughtful, iconic projects across the globe have proven it.

Sponge Cities In-Person & Virtual

Nature-based solutions to mitigate urban heat and flooding while improving human health and comfort.

Bioplanning the Cities of the Future In-Person & Virtual

How we can reimagine and reinvent the built environment to stop urban sprawl as we know it and create cities that are super-natural.

Flipping the Script on Housing In-Person & Virtual

Mixed-use, mixed-income, mixed generations…The way we’ve been thinking about – and building – housing needs to change.

Fighting the Loneliness Pandemic via Public Spaces In-Person & Virtual

Hila Oren believes that the DNA of a city stems from its public spaces. Have we been designing and stewarding these spaces in ways that make cities flourish – or have old habits held us back?

Networking Break In-Person
Transit & Transitioning: The Art of Complex Urban Change In-Person & Virtual

The Web3 City. Buildings, Blocks, And Blockchain. In-Person & Virtual

While 2022 was the year of the metaverse hype, Howard Hughes Corp pushed forward with a digital meets physical Web3 community.

Debate: Death of the Architect? In-Person & Virtual

From generative design algorithms to robotic construction, AI is already pushing the boundaries of what is possible in architecture. Will technology make the architect redundant in our pursuit of better cities?

Breakout Conversations with WRLDCTY Speakers and Experts In-Person

Lunch provided

Join fellow WRLDCTY attendees and presenters for high-impact conversations over lunch. Meet and connect over topics including:

  • The Destination City
  • Beautiful Culture: Placemaking in the City
  • The Startup City: Cities as Startup Accelerators
  • AI and the City: A Brave New World
  • Active Cities: Setting a Community in Motion
  • What Really Needs to Happen to Fix the Housing Crisis
  • Place 3.0: When Digital and Physical Places Blend
Revisiting the Triumph of the City Virtual

Ed Gleaser and Jay Cross sit down for an intimate fireside chat to discuss the future of our cities.

Blue and Green Infrastructure: The Potential to Make Indian Cities Livable, Sustainable, and Resilient Virtual

We are building grey infrastructure like there is no tomorrow, at the cost of water bodies, green spaces, and public areas, which is leading to heat islands, flooding, worsening mental health, air/noise pollution, and rising stress. Manas Rath will show practical ways to build blue and green infrastructure into even the most congested towns and cities in India.

From Experts to Integrators: Reframing Our Value In-Person

Is it enough to be an expert? To collaborate or co-design? Heath Gledhill explores why our profession needs Integrators and their crucial value as orchestrators inside city-shaping projects.

From Experimentation to Transformation Virtual

Community Power to Planning Progress In-Person & Virtual

Can a community-led plan and a new mechanism for accountability leverage the private sector, reverse years of environmental injustice, and create a thriving and healthier neighborhood? Look no further than the Gowanus rezoning in Brooklyn for a case study. The playbook for collaboration that can champion urban transformation is complicated… and rewarding. Here’s how it’s playing out in real-time.

Designing Spaces for Racial and Cultural Justice In-Person & Virtual

A historical system of racism manifested in the physical environment decimates communities limiting their access to certain geographies and services. How do we tackle these injustices and create more inclusive and equitable places for all?

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose In-Person & Virtual

From empty office towers to vacant strip malls and weathered cultural buildings – giving new life to existing buildings not only reduces carbon emissions, it is also a chance for neighborhood renewal.

Networking Break In-Person
The Nomadic City In-Person & Virtual

Talent is now migratory. Does your city have what it takes to not only lure, but keep remote workers?

Electrify the City In-Person & Virtual

Electrification is a powerful tool in fighting climate change, and cities are in dire need of an upgrade. It is a gargantuan task, so where do we start?

Keynote: The Comfortable Walk In-Person & Virtual

In his General Theory of Walkability, veteran WRLDCTY speaker and Walkable City author Jeff Speck explains how people only choose to become pedestrians if the walk is simultaneously “useful, safe, comfortable, and interesting.” Of those four requirements, comfort is the most counterintuitive and fascinating. Join Jeff as he waxes poetic through a photographic essay on what makes for truly comfortable walking. Hint: It’s not just good shoes.

What’s Next for World Cities? In-Person & Virtual

WRLDCTY wraps up with a look at the global forces and conditions that will shape what’s to come for cities around the world. Anchored in trends and data, this session serves as a guidebook to what cities need to be paying attention to – and preparing for – over the short, medium, and long term.

Closing Remarks In-Person & Virtual

WRLDCTY After Dark Cocktail Reception In-Person
October 04, 2023
Urban Tech Hub tour at Cornell Tech In-Person
Bike Lab with Brompton Bicycles In-Person
Manhattan Seaport with Howard Hughes Corp. In-Person
Gowanus Canal Transformation Tour (Brooklyn) In-Person

Claudia López

Mayor of Bogotá

Claudia López was elected Mayor of Bogotá in October 2019 and started her mandate on the 1st of January 2020. She became the city’s first female and also the first openly diverse Mayor in Bogotá’s history. She has an emphatic focus on environmental, social and anti corruption issues.

Mayor López was a Senator of the Republic of Colombia between 2014 and 2018 and the vice-presidential candidate in the 2018 presidential election for the Green Alliance party. As a senator, she set an example in the fight against corruption, with results never seen before, she became a prominent figure in the political arena. The public recognizes her tenacity and enormous capacity for collective action, which led her to make her way into academia and public service, becoming the first woman to be elected by popular vote to Colombia’s second most important office.
Mayor López is a finance and international relations graduate from Universidad Externado de Colombia, holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Urban Politics from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University.

Colleen Litkenhaus Tague

Global Director of Plastics and Circularity, Government Affairs, Dow

Colleen Litkenhaus Tague serves as the Global Director of Plastics and Circularity, Government Affairs, at Dow. With over 28 years in the public and private sectors, she helps steer Dow’s innovation, customer-centricity, and sustainability initiatives, mainly circular solutions, and low-carbon ecosystems. Seasoned U.S. administration official, her prior roles include time in the White House, United States Trade Representative, Department of Commerce and Georgetown University.

Janette Sadik-Khan

Principal, Bloomberg Associates & Former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation

One of the leading voices on urban transportation policy, Janette Sadik-Khan is internationally respected for her transformative redesigns of New York City streets and rapid-implementation strategies that are being replicated today in cities around the world. ​She was Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007–2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, leading one of the most sweeping revitalizations of the city’s streets in a half-century.

​She currently advises mayors of cities around the world as a principal at Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consultancy established by Michael Bloomberg to help cities around the world improve the quality of life of their citizens. She assists mayors and their teams in developing street redesigns in cities from Los Angeles to Mexico City to Rio and Athens.

​As chair of the National Association of Transportation Officials (NACTO), an organization of transportation commissioners and directors in 38 cities, she led the development and publication of NACTO’s Global and Urban Street Design Guides and the Urban Bikeway Design Guide. The new standards in these documents have been recognized by USDOT and adopted by 40 cities worldwide.

​Sadik-Khan was a Senior Vice President of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a leading international engineering firm. Previously, she worked in Washington, D.C., as a Deputy Administrator at the US Department of Transportation. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Occidental College, and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

Julie Allen

Senior Vice President of Digital and Brand Creative, HHC

Julie Allen is a Senior Vice President, driving Digital & Creative at Howard Hughes, overseeing the company’s digital presence at both at the corporate and regional level. She leads the company’s blockchain group and is currently focused on emerging technology applications across the portfolio. Ms. Allen also oversees creative output for the company’s New York business, running its in-house creative Seaport Studio.

Bàrbara Pons Giner

Commissioner, Barcelona 2030

Bàrbara Pons Giner is an Architect, PhD in Urban Planning and Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Specialising in sustainable urban development, cities and climate change, she has pursued her professional career in the private sector and in public administration.

She has been a speaker at numerous conferences and seminars, and a lecturer at several national and international universities, including George Washington University. Between 2014 and 2016, she coordinated research on sustainable urbanism for the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative. She currently works in the City Promotion Department at Barcelona City Council and is an associate professor at Pompeu Fabra University.

Eamon Waterford

CEO, Committee for Sydney

Eamon’s career has spanned the social, economic and urban needs of Sydney.

He started his career working side-by-side with people experiencing long-term homelessness in Penrith and Blacktown to understand their challenges, and undertook the first Homelessness Street Count in the Western Parkland City.

Prior to joining the Committee as CEO, Eamon was the Chief Strategy Officer of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, sitting on the Executive of the Department and leading strategic projects across the Investment, Industry and Trade, Arts and Culture, Sport, Tourism and Hospitality and Racing sectors.

Jorick Beijer

Urbanist & Director, Blossity

Jorick Beijer is an urbanist and co-founder of BLOSSITY, an urban strategy advisory that transforms cities and campuses into mixed-use environments where people thrive. The award-winning Dutch practice was set up by Beijer alongside sociologist Marije Blok in 2013.

Beijer has been responsible for projects like the Active Cities strategy of Nike Inc, the positioning of Dublin City, the global headquarters of Siemens Healthineers, and the campus of the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions. Currently he is working on the EMEA headquarters of Nike Inc and Innovation District Zuidas, Amsterdam.

Vincent Lee

Principal, Sustainable Development, Integrated Water + Nature-based Solutions, Arup

Vincent Lee, PE, LEED AP, ENV SP is a Principal in Arup with over 20 years of experience in sustainable site development, green infrastructure and integrated water resource management. His engineering background has enabled him to implement water-resilient cities and nature-based solutions across the world. He has been instrumental in developing integrated water management plans for new cities in the Middle East and Asia such as Songdo in South Korea and Meixi Lake in China. He has developed eco-district infrastructure plans for campuses and mixed-use developments including St. Elizabeth’s East in Washington DC, Fulbright University Vietnam and Parque de Cidade in São Paulo. He is the Project Director for the design of green infrastructure for streets and public properties on multiple city contracts encompassing over 2,000 acres in 3 City Boroughs. Following Superstorm Sandy, he has led the design on multiple resilience initiatives in the NY metropolitan area including: the NYS2100 Commission, NYCDOT and NYCMTA post-Sandy resilience work, HUD Rebuild By Design (Jersey Shore), NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program (Long Island) and NYCHA public housing recovery projects in Baruch Houses and Red Hook Houses.

Manas Rath

Founder, LEAP Cities

Manas founded LEAP Cities (Leadership, Excellence And Partnership for Cities) to help make Indian cities more liveable, sustainable, healthy and happy—by creating city-specific Collection Action programs and providing long-term strategic support to sustainability-focused businesses and NGOs.

His background is in strategy, (ethical) leadership and organizational capacity building, and developing partnerships. Manas is an advisor at BORDA and the Dutch WASH-focused Take-a-Stake Impact Fund, and worked at strategic philanthropy advisory firm Dasra and investment bank Avendus Capital.

Manas graduated from MIT and the Sloan School of Management, is a Reiki Master and student of Vedanta, Buddhism and Shamanism—which guide his work on social and environmental issues.

Creighton Hofeditz

Director of Permaculture & Perennials, Denver Urban Gardens

Creighton grew up in the foothills outside of Denver and studied theater in college before later switching paths with a design course at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute in 2011. Since then, he has designed and implemented home landscapes, public projects, four-season greenhouses, two school curriculums, and was a contributing author on the book The Forest Garden Greenhouse. He learned tree care during a two-year apprenticeship at Bullocks’Permaculture Homestead in Washington State, and spent six years teaching farm- and place-based science to junior high students. He has been the lead facilitator of the Denver Permaculture Design Course since 2015, and in 2022 joined Denver Urban Gardens to lead its new Food Forest Initiative, installing public access perennial food spaces across the Denver Metro area.

Ashley Williamson

Co-Executive Director, The Giving Grove

Ashley brings local and international experience in program development, community engagement, and research. She has a Master in Social Work Advocacy, Policy and Administration from the University of Kansas and is passionate about connecting people, ideas and policies. A dedicated community member, Ashley is continuously involved in boards and leadership programs, currently serving as Secretary of Unified Government of Wyandotte Board of Parks Commission, Board Member of Community Capital Fund, and Advisory Committee Member for the Kansas City Young Farmers Coalition. Ashley is always looking forward to a good podcast, book, or the next time she can work in her ever-expanding vegetable garden and neighborhood orchard.

Jad Daley

President & CEO, American Forests

Jad Daley is serving as the 40th president and chief executive officer of American Forests, the nation’s oldest forest conservation organization, founded in 1875. Under Daley’s leadership, American Forests has grown three-fold and launched partnerships to tackle climate change and social inequity in cities across the United States. Follow Daley on twitter (@JadDaley).

Linda Appel Lipsius

CEO, Denver Urban Gardens

Linda combines business savvy with a strong foundation in sustainable, ethical business and B Corps, and she’s deeply rooted in the conversation surrounding regenerative and organic farming. She is a passionate advocate for community gardening and its role in creating a sustainable urban future where people are deeply and directly connected to the earth, each other, and the food they eat. She shares her expertise as a public speaker on topics ranging from regenerative agriculture and permaculture to entrepreneurship and sustainable business practices. Prior to joining Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) as the CEO, Linda was the vice president of OrangeGlo International and co-founded Teatulia Organic Teas and the mama’hood. Linda earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Columbia University and her MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.

Heath Gledhill

Integrated Design and Precincts Capability Leader, Aurecon

A passionate integrated strategist committed to unlocking hidden value, overcoming financial and operational challenges and driving evocative yet practical solutions, Heath draws on his qualifications in both design, management and business, to drive successful project solutions.

His transformational leadership and navigation of complex urban infrastructure and city shaping projects and programs makes him widely sort after. A Committed advocate to cross industry borders, a Fellow and past president of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Heath understands the importance of considering People at the centre of our projects, how they move, and the places in which they inhabit.

Scott Rechler

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, RXR

Scott Rechler is the chairman and chief executive officer of RXR, one of the largest owners, managers, and developers of real estate and infrastructure in the New York metropolitan region.

With an aggregate gross asset value of $20.8 billion, comprising approximately 26.5 million square feet of commercial properties and a multifamily residential portfolio of approximately 7,100 units under operation or development, RXR seeks to build and create stronger communities within its buildings and the areas in which it operates. As chairman and CEO, Mr. Rechler believes that RXR’s success is inextricably linked to the health and vitality of the broader community.

From 2011 to 2016, Mr. Rechler served as vice chairman of the board of commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. From 2017 to 2019, he served as a member of the board of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Tristan More

Futurist, Foresight Consultant, Arup

Tristan is a futures researcher, helping guide mayors, local government, and developers to affect sustainable and resilient urban development. Having grown up under the domes of the UK’s Eden Project, a career that started in architecture led him to work as an urbanist across projects at the building, neighbourhood, and city scale.

Working with clients and organisations ranging from Google, the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority, to the World Resources Institute, Tristan works to make complex futures legible to diverse audiences. At Arup, a multidisciplinary practice of 17,000+ architects, engineers, designers and planners, Arup Foresight delivers research and consultancy that enable to firm and its clients to work sustainably and equitably in a changing world. Tristan is also the studio lead for Arup’s internal digital innovation lab learning and development program.

Edward Glaeser

American economist, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Edward Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics and the Chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard University, where he has taught microeconomic theory, and occasionally urban and public economics, since 1992. He has served as Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, and Director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. He has published dozens of papers on cities economic growth, law, and economics. In particular, his work has focused on the determinants of city growth and the role of cities as centers of idea transmission. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1992. His books include Cities, Agglomeration, and Spatial Equilibrium (Oxford University Press, 2008), Rethinking Federal Housing Policy (American Enterprise Institute Press, 2008), Triumph of the City (Penguin Press, 2011), and Survival of the City: Mass Flourishing in an Age of Social Isolation (Penguin Press, 2021).

Rob Adams

City Architect, City of Melbourne

Professor Rob Adams AM is City Architect at the City of Melbourne and a Director of the design practice Adams Urban. Over his 38 years at the City of Melbourne, Rob led the transformation of the city from a failing doughnut city in the 1980s to a city named the world’s most liveable for seven consecutive years. The teams he led received over 160 international, state and local awards. Rob has received the Australian Institute of Architect’s National President’s Award (2018), the Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year (2008), and an Order of Australia (2007). He has represented Australia on the Future of Cities Council of the World Economic Forum between 2008-2022 and is sought as an expert on cities both nationally and internationally.

Hélène Chartier

Director of Urban Planning and Design, C40 Cities

Hélène Chartier is the Director of Urban Planning and Design at C40. The team she leads develops programmes and activities that support cities to accelerate sustainable and resilient urban planning policies and design practices.Her team leads the C40 Land Use Planning Network, which supports cities to institutionalise climate action through urban planning regulations; the Reinventing Cities competition, which delivers decarbonised and resilient urban regeneration projects; as well as the Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods programme and C40’s workstream on 15-minute cities.

Hélène previously served as an advisor to the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo. She also worked for the Paris Urbanism Agency and the global consulting firm Arup. Hélène holds a Master’s degree in science and engineering from the École Centrale with a specialisation in building and civil engineering. In the past 15 years, Hélène has lived and worked in Paris, London and New York.

Bahíyyah Maroon Ph.D

Author & CEO, Polis Institute

Dr. Bahíyyah Maroon is CEO of the social research & engagement firm, Polis Institute. A nationally recognized thought leader on equity and social change, Dr. Maroon has provided strategic insights to Fortune 50 companies, Harvard University, the Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Labor, and a host of philanthropic, business, and municipal entities. She is the author of the forthcoming book Black LIves, American Love (Chicago Review Press), and has appeared in Women’s Health, Self, Bustle, and the NY Times.

Ernest Chrappah

Consultant and Government Leader

Ernest Chrappah is an experienced government executive and successful entrepreneur with a reputation for finding innovative solutions to complex challenges. Chrappah is the former interim Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and confirmed by the D.C. Council on June 4, 2019. Previously, he served as the Director for the Department of For-Hire Vehicles. Chrappah also served as the Deputy Chief Information Officer for the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency where he implemented innovative technology solutions leveraging analytics, mobility, cloud, APIs, and user-oriented design for an 800+ workforce to improve child welfare outcomes. In addition, he created an IT governance framework and project portfolio management system to enhance fiscal management, transparency and accountability.

Andrew Witt

Associate Professor in Practice in Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Andrew Witt is an Associate Professor in Practice in Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, teaching and researching on the relationship of geometry and machines to perception, design, construction, and culture. Trained as both an architect and mathematician, he has a particular interest in a technically synthetic and logically rigorous approach to form.

Witt is also co-founder, with Tobias Nolte, of Certain Measures, a Boston/Berlin-based design and technology studio that combines imagination and evidence for systemic and scalable approaches to spatial problems. Their clients include large manufacturers, material fabricators, government agencies, infrastructure companies, investment funds, medical startups, and cultural institutions.

Maria Barry

Community Development Banking National Executive, Bank of America

Maria Barry oversees the Community Development Banking (CDB) team that provides financing for affordable and mixed-income housing across the U.S. CDB delivers innovative financing solutions to help create affordable housing for individuals, families, seniors, veterans, the formerly homeless, and those with special needs. Her team works closely with key partners to utilize the full financial resources of the firm to help develop safe affordable housing, improve education, create jobs, and transform underserved areas into vibrant neighborhoods. These efforts are part of the company’s commitment to deploying capital to address global issues outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Siqi Zhu

Associate Principal, Planner, Director of Planning & Urban Technology, Sasaki

Siqi Zhu is the Associate Principal, Planner and Director of Planning & Urban Technology at Sasaki. Before Sasaki he was the Director of Planning & Delivery for Sidewalk Labs, where his work imagined how technology transforms the design and implementation of urban streets and public realm. Siqi also headed up product design at Envelope, a NYC-based startup that visualizes development opportunities under NYC zoning. He also worked as a senior designer and project manager at Boston-based Sasaki and Utile, where he oversaw urban planning projects for a variety of public, private, and institutional clients across the US and internationally.

Siqi is passionate about great urban public spaces. He is particularly interested in how a human-centered, research- and data-intensive design process can yield fresh insights about—and build stakeholder consensus around—how we improve the urban public realm.

Thomas F. Prendergast

Executive Vice President & New York Metro Chief Executive, AECOM

As Chief Executive, Tom oversees growth and profitability of the Design and Consulting Services group in the New York Metro. His areas of responsibility include transportation, water and wastewater, environment, power, and buildings and places, which encompasses more than 1,300 architects, engineers, scientists, and other support staff. Prior to joining AECOM, Tom served in a number of leadership roles during his 30 years at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)—the largest transportation agency in North America—most recently as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. In that capacity, he established the strategic direction and policies of the MTA’s agencies and was instrumental in securing a five-year capital plan to modernize New York’s public transportation systems, including Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access. Tom currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Regional Plan Association and the Eno Center for Transportation.

Sarah M. Whiting

Dean, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

Sarah Whiting has been Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design since 2019. She is also a design principal and co-founder of WW Architecture, based in Cambridge, and served as the Dean of Rice University’s School of Architecture from 2010 to 2019. Whiting received an interdisciplinary, self-directed Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale, a Master of Architecture from Princeton in 1990, and a Doctor of Philosophy in the History and Theory of Architecture from MIT in 2001. Whiting’s research and writing is broadly interdisciplinary, with the built environment at its core. An expert in architectural theory and urbanism, she has particular interests in modern and contemporary architecture’s relationship with politics, economics, and society and how the built environment shapes the nature of public life.

Eric A. Clement

SVP & Fund Manager, Social Impact & Sustainability Investments, RXR

Eric A. Clement oversees the social impact and sustainability portfolios at RXR. He is principally responsible for defining the portfolio’s strategic vision and investment strategy, delivering against the dual mandate of attractive returns and tangible ESG outcomes.

Prior to RXR, Eric was Senior Managing Director and head of the Strategic Investments Group at New York City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), where he oversaw the negotiation of tax incentives, debt issuances, new market tax credit investments, and dedicated debt-equity funds. He led deployment of NYCEDC’s $15 billion portfolio to expand financial access, mobilize private capital, and support the City of New York’s core growth objectives.

Greg Lindsay

Author & Journalist

Greg Lindsay is a generalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is a 2022-2023 urban tech fellow at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, where he leads The Metaverse Metropolis — a new initiative exploring the implications of augmented reality at urban scale. He is also a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab, a senior advisor to Climate Alpha, and a non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative.

Lev Kushner

Partner, Department of Here

Lev Kushner is the founding partner of Department of Here. A recovering bureaucrat who worked in economic development and public space design for NYC and SF, Lev’s past work includes approving contentious projects like Yankee Stadium, transforming closed military bases into mixed-use neighborhoods, and forging public-private partnerships that amplify civic pride. He is a thought leader on urbanism, economic development, and identity, and his ideas have appeared in Fast Company, CityLab, KQED, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

Elisa Ours

Chief Planning & Design Officer, Corcoran Sunshine

Elisa Ours, designer, educator and industry leader, serves as the Chief Planning & Design Officer at Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. As the founder of the department, Elisa plays a critical role in combining design with real estate development to execute visionary projects from the schematic phase to the final sale. Strategically pairing world-renowned designers with developers for Corcoran Sunshine condominium properties and Citi Habitats rental properties, her collective portfolio is estimated at over 20,000 residences and more than $30 billion.

Alex Baum

Principal and Global VP of Strategy, ERA-co

Alex Baum is a founding member of ERA-co, a placemaking experience consultancy with capabilities spanning the disciplines of urban systems and planning, user strategy and brand experience. our global collective of data scientists, strategists and experience designers partner with clients to transform the future of cities, neighborhoods, and business to positively impact the lives of people and the places they inhabit.

Shane Burger

Principal, Global Leader - Technical Innovation, Woods Bagot

Shane is an internationally recognized leader in the advanced use of technology in design and experience for the built environment. As a Principal at Woods Bagot, he directs a vision centered on technical innovation and leads a global team dedicated to researching, developing and applying new models of design and delivery to projects. He has lectured widely on a range of topics including design computation, BIM, digital fabrication, building performance, VR/AR, Smart Buildings, and digital culture and experience.

Michelle de la Uz

Executive Director, Fifth Avenue Committee

Michelle de la Uz is the Executive Director of Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc. (FAC). She previously served as Co-Chair on FAC’s Board of Directors. She has over twenty-five years of experience in public and community service. Michelle oversees the organization’s mission and comprehensive programs serving more than 5,500 low- and moderate-income people; a budget of more than $7 million and several non-housing affiliate corporations with annual budgets of over $6 million, real estate assets over $100 million, and a housing development pipeline of over 1,700 units, representing more than $800 million in total development costs. Under her leadership,FAC became a chartered member organization of NeighborWorks America, a national network of
over 240 affordable housing and community development corporations.

James Lima

President, JLP+D

JLP+D President James Lima has been actively engaged in complex matters of real estate, economic development and public policy since 1986. James founded JLP+D in 2011 after leading redevelopment strategies for numerous large-scale sites as a partner at a national economic and real estate advisory firm. James has also worked as a real estate developer for Forest City Ratner Companies and AvalonBay Communities. In the public sector, James served as a senior economic development and housing official for NYC and was former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s appointee as founding President of the public entity overseeing planning, development, and operations of Governors Island in New York Harbor. James has worked closely with a wide range of clients and collaborators to create innovative real estate and economic strategies that access untapped value, maximize public benefit, and ensure the long-term economic, social, and environmental sustainability of urban regeneration investment.

Keefe Harrison

Founder and CEO, The Recycling Partnership

Keefe Harrison is a founder and the CEO of The Recycling Partnership, a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting the planet by fixing recycling and activating a circular economy in the U.S. An international speaker, media pundit, and environmental author, Keefe is a 22-year veteran of the space, dedicated to engaging companies in making measurable, lasting change. Under her leadership, The Partnership has grown significantly since its founding in 2014 and has transformed $95 million of investment from over 80 funding partners into $241 million in value creation, reaching over one million households and diverting over 770 million incremental pounds of recyclables from landfills. Before recycling, Keefe worked on a logging crew in North Carolina, researched sea turtles in Costa Rica, and studied reindeer husbandry in Finland.

Robert Claiborne

Partner, DIALOG

Robert is an award-winning architect with more than 25 years of international experience, particularly in civic, cultural, and urban spaces. His commitment to architecture and authentically understanding each project comes from a deep interest in the challenges and opportunities of our time. Robert’s work relates architecture to the forces that influence each project. By engaging site and environment, program, context, and client, he finds unique and inspired design responses to these conditions that allow each building to express a greater cultural meaning. A consistent voice for the confluence between architecture and the arts, his approach reinforces the role of creativity as a catalyst for building more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive communities.

Bryan C. Lee Jr

Design Principal, Colloqate

Architect and Design Justice Advocate. Founder/Director of Colloqate Design, a nonprofit multidisciplinary design practice. Bryan has spent 11 years working as a Design Justice advocate, organizer, and architect with a focus on building justice in the built environment. Lee was named one of 2018 Fast Company Most Creative People in Business. 2019 Architectural League Emerging Voices and a 2019 USC Civic Media Research Fellow.

Gary Pooni

CEO, Pooni Group

In his role as president, Gary drives the firm’s growth and guides major client projects as strategic lead. With over twenty years of planning-related experience, he has spearheaded some of the country’s most significant projects throughout Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the Sea to Sky corridor, Alberta and Ontario. His expertise includes strategic guidance, policy planning, public consultation and entitlement negotiation. Often recognized as the man behind the Lower Mainland’s most complex projects, Gary was listed as a “change-maker and power player shaping our world” in Vancouver Magazine’s 2022 Power 50 List.

Jay Cross

President, Howard Hughes Corporation

Jay Cross leads the Howard Hughes Corp. in developing some of the most innovative planned communities in the country, with decades of experience delivering large-scale, mixed-use real estate projects. Cross joined HHC in 2020 from the presidency of Related Hudson Yards, where he led development of the $20 billion project that redefined lower Manhattan. As president of the New York Jets, he spearheaded the development of MetLife Stadium in a joint venture with the New York Giants to build the $1.3 billion dual-team NFL stadium.

Andrew King

Founder of AKA/FLDWRK

Andrew King is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in design excellence, applied design research, teaching and cultural discourse. King’s work has been consistently published in international art and architecture journals and recognized with international design awards. He was selected one of Canada’s “design leaders” by the Globe and Mail in 2003 and has received four Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence. In 2012 he had the unprecedented honour of being awarded two American Institute of Architecture Progressive Architecture (P/A) Awards of Excellence in the same year for projects of very divergent scales and briefs. In 2017 he was elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and in 2003, the Canada Council for the Arts Prix de Rome Laureate.

Ole Scheeren

Architect and Principal, Büro Ole Scheeren

Ole Scheeren is a German-born architect and principal of Büro Ole Scheeren. His landmark projects shape the way we interact with our cities and generate new social narratives through a bold vision of architecture as highly connective and integrative environments.

Fokke Moerel

Partner and Architect, MVRDV

Partner and Architect Fokke Moerel (Breda, NL – 1970) was one of the first architects to join MVRDV in 1998. Her projects include public and cultural buildings, as well as transformations of monumental buildings that endeavour to revive their immediate urban context. To this end, she oversees teams working on designs ranging from interiors to public buildings. Through MVRDV projects, she generates a strong relationship between interior and exterior public programme.

Claire Johnston

CEO, Lendlease, Americas

Claire Johnston serves as CEO for Lendlease’s Google Real Estate Development venture, a 15 year, US $15bn (AUD $20bn) joint undertaking of master planning, entitlement and development of Google’s Bay Area landholdings in San Jose, Sunnyvale and Mountain View, California. Lendlease estimates it will develop up to 15 million square feet of residential, retail, hospitality and associated community uses within these four new neighborhoods.

Tobias Degsell

CEO, Combiner

The founder and CEO of COMBINER, creativity expert Tobias Degsell worked for several years as curator at the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, before becoming an entrepreneur. Passionate about data, and with a rare ability to see the world through patterns, he has given talks around the world which help companies and organisations be more creative around change so they can think and act in new ways. He loves to inspire teams to face reality, problem-solve, and come up with innovative solutions.

Steven Cornwell

Global Director, ERA-co

Steven Cornwell is the Global Director of ERA-co, currently living in NYC. Over the course of 20 years, Steven has garnered an international reputation for developing leading brands from a broad range of sectors including real estate, place, culture, consumer retail, media, transit & infrastructure and professional services. ERA-co is a global place brand specializing in data science, research and insight, user strategy, urban systems and brand experience.

Craig Edward Dykers

Architect and Founding Partner, Snøhetta

Craig Dykers was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1961 and has lived extensively in both Europe and North America. Dykers received a bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Texas, Austin after initial studies in medicine and art. He has worked in Texas and California and later co-founded the architecture, landscape and interior design company Snøhetta in Oslo, Norway in 1989 and in New York City in 2004.

As one of the founding partners of the firm, Craig Dykers has led many of their prominent projects internationally, including the Alexandria Library in Egypt, the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo, Norway, the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York City, and the recently completed Ryerson University Student Learning Centre in Ontario, Canada.

Baharash Bagherian


Baharash Bagherian is the CEO of URB and has masterminded designs of various sustainable cities currently under construction. As a visionary changemaker, Baharash Bagherian founded URB with a sense of purpose to accelerate the world’s transition towards sustainable developments. He leads URB to develop the highest standards of sustainable destinations, through his unique expertise as well as sustainability know-how. He also heads the world’s first urban tech incubator for sustainable cities, which aims to foster a collaborative ecosystem of innovators, whilst investing in start-ups that are solving critical challenges related to urbanization & climate change.

Dr. Amy Myers Jaffe

Director of the Energy, Climate Justice, and Sustainability Lab

Amy Myers Jaffe is an energy consultant and leading expert on the geopolitics of oil, energy, security and risk, and an influential thought leader on global energy policy and sustainability. She is currently serving as Director of the Energy, Climate Justice, and Sustainability Lab and a research professor at New York University’s School of Proofessional Studies.

Dr. Hila Oren

CEO, Tel Aviv Foundation

Dr. Hila Oren has been the CEO of The Tel Aviv Foundation since 2016.Previously Oren founded and served as CEO of Tel Aviv Global. Tel Aviv Global is an initiative started by the Mayor’s Office of Tel Aviv-Yafo dedicated to elevating the city’s brand and global positioning. In 2010, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality undertook a municipal-national initiative designed to position Tel Aviv as a global city – a leading international business center that specializes in innovation. During her term, the Startup City vision was formed: a municipal strategic plan for investors, entrepreneurs, tourists and students, connecting a city platform with a private initiative. As a result, Tel Aviv-Yafo was awarded the title ‘Best Smart City in the World’ in 2014.

Dror Benshetrit

Founder and Principal, Supernature Labs & Studio Dror

Founder of Studio Dror and SuperNature Labs, Dror is a designer, thinker, inventor, and futurist whose ingenuity informs a striking range of affecting, unconventional work. Dror has an award winning 20+ year career in product design, interiors, architecture, master planning and city planning. His eponymous NY studio collaborated with top tier companies and developers around the world, envisioning, researching and developing systems to connect people with nature through the built environment. Dror aims to foster authentic connections and improve people’s well being with these designs. Some of Dror’s major works include a novel structural support system named Quadror, the masterplan of Galataport in Istanbul, Turkey, and the Cappellini Peacock chair. Additionally, his first built architectural project, Nurai Island, broke the record for the most expensive residential units sold in the UAE per sq. ft.; units sold out in 72 hours, with sales totaling 976MM.

Kimberly Driggins

Executive Director, Washington Housing Conservancy

Kimberly Driggins is the Executive Director of the Washington Housing Conservancy (WHC). Launched in 2018, WHC preserves affordable workforce housing, prevents displacement, and promotes economic mobility, especially for moderate to low-income African Americans and other people of color. WHC is committed to creating thriving, inclusive, mixed-income communities throughout the D.C. region.

Ms. Driggins has an extensive background in urban planning and real estate development and prior to her appointment at WHC, she served as Director of Strategic Planning/Arts and Culture for the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department for three years. Ms. Driggins also served as Associate Director for Citywide Planning for the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning from 2008-2015.

Matthias Hollwich

Founder, HWKN Architecture

Matthias Hollwich, AIA, is an architect who has established himself at the forefront of a new generation of groundbreaking international architects. Matthias believes the key to successful architecture lies in finding new and exciting ways to create relationships between people and buildings. He was recently honored in Fast Company’s ranking of the world’s top 10 most innovative architects and was on Business Insider’s list of the top business visionaries. Matthias has spoken regularly at events such as TED and PICNIC, and teaches architecture as a visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeff Speck

City Planner & Writer

Jeff Speck is a city planner and author who advocates internationally for more walkable cities. As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, he presided over the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and created the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. Prior to his federal appointment, Mr. Speck spent ten years as Director of Town Planning at DPZ & Co., the principal firm behind the New Urbanism movement. Since 2007, he has led Speck & Associates, an award-winning private design consultancy serving mainly American cities.

Signe Kongebro

Global Design Director, Urbanism, Partner, Henning Larsen

Signe Kongebro is the Global Design Director of Landscape and Urbanism and founder of Henning Larsen’s sustainability department. She has been a member of Henning Larsen’s management since 2008 and is one of the driving forces behind the practice’s growing focus on sustainability in construction and resource-conscious design. In her work, Signe pioneers new methods for reducing carbon on an urban scale, as evidenced by Henning Larsen’s Fælledby project – winner of the Urban Design category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards.

Marc Norman

Associate Dean, New York University, Schack Institute of Real Estate

Marc Norman is the founder of consulting firm Ideas and Action, the Larry & Klara Silverstein Chair in Real Estate Development & Investment, and Associate Dean of the Schack Institute of Real Estate at NYU.

Trained as an urban planner, he has worked in the community development and finance field for over 25 years. Previous to his current positions, he has held leadership positions at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business as Faculty Director of the Weiser Center for Real Estate, Duvernay+Brooks, LLC as Managing Director, Deutsche Bank as Vice President in the Community Development Finance Group and led Upstate, A Center for Design, Research, and Real Estate at Syracuse University. Norman has worked collaboratively to develop or finance over 2,000 units totaling more than $400 million in total development costs.

Steven Pedigo

Professor of Practice, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas

Steven is a professor of practice at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and the director of the LBJ Urban Lab. He is also director of research and advising for the Creative Class Group and VP, Economic Development, at Resonance Consultancy.

Chris Fair

President & CEO, Resonance

A futurist, facilitator and strategist, Chris holds a Masters degree in Studies of the Future and has married his tourism, economic development, real estate and and marketing expertise with futures methodologies to help a wide variety of clients envision and create development strategies, plans and brands that shape the future of places around the world. As President of Resonance Consultancy, Chris leads a team that has completed more than 100 visioning, strategy, planning, and branding projects for developers and destinations in more than 30 destinations.

He has been featured in Fast Company magazine and is a frequent commentator on lifestyle and leisure trends for leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Globe & Mail, Los Angeles Times, The Economist and Worth magazine. In 2013, Chris was recognized as the “Place Branding Thought Leader of the Year” at the World Sense of Place Summit

Greg Clark

Author & Urbanist

Prof Greg Clark CBE FAcSS is Chair of the Connected Places Catapult, a Board member of Transport For London and the London LE, and a former Group Advisor at HSBC. He is a Civic Leader, writer, Non-Executive Director, and Board Chair, working with Investors, Businesses, Governments, and Cities to help navigate this compelling century, inspire new collaborations, and forge new futures.


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