The architectural community, and more broadly the design community, the city planning community has an incredible role to play. They help cities find their special voice, their distinctive brand that distinguishes them from other places. Again, for me what makes cities special is how different they are from each other. They're not like going to a suburban mall outside of Philadelphia versus outside of a Phoenix, or outside of Denver versus outside of Detroit.
There's a sameness to that. You lose sense of where you are. When you're in a downtown, with a distinctive kind of architecture, some historic, some modern, with a distinctive kind of of waterfront, with a distinctive kind of physical landscape both within the city and the broader metropolitan area, you have a sense of place. You have a sense of belonging. Frankly, in a world where we're all completely wired and connected, we're all overly caffeinated, where we all can basically go (snaps fingers) anywhere within a relatively short period of time, there's something special about this distinctiveness.
What I always say to cities is, "You know, understand yourself first and foremost. "If you're going to embrace the "architectural community as you should, "do it in such a way that reflects "your specialness, your distinctiveness. "You don't need just to copycat another city." "Oh, we read about what Bilbao "did with the Guggenheim. "We're going to have our own Guggenheim here, "the same Guggenheim." That's not what' special about cities. What's special about cities is to understand their differences.
Maybe there's a different architect that will go to a particular city in the United States, or a particular city in Germany, or India. Frankly, it's a big enough world with a lot of talent that we could create this broad vision of distinctiveness and this sense of belonging and the sense of place.
Unlike many other fields of design, cities aren't created by any one specialist or expert. There are many contributors to urban change, including ordinary citizens who can have a great impact on improving the cities in which they live. By exploring a diverse range of urban design projects around the world, Urbanized frames a global discussion on the future of cities.
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