UW Today

This is an archived article.

May 6, 2010

The future of cities: Two-day symposium looks ahead with ‘speculative urbanism’

By 2050, according to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Also, the population of cities is expected to almost double from 3.3 billion to 6.4 billion.


A two-day symposium on the UW campus will explore design as it applies to cities of the future. Speculative Urbanism: Research and Visualization is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 14-15 in 120 Kane. It’s part of Next City, a universitywide series of conversations initiated by President Mark Emmert and Provost Phyllis Wise.


Seattle-based LMN Architects is sponsoring the symposium to mark its 30th anniversary. The College of Built Environments and the UW Alumni Association are hosting it.


Mitchell Joachim, a leader in urbanism and ecological design, will deliver the keynote Friday at 6:30 p.m. A faculty member at Columbia University, Joachim is co-founder of Terreform ONE + Terrefuge, an ecological design group. Its designs include the S.O.F.T. (Sustainable Omni Flow Transport) Blimp Bumper Bus, which actually looks more like a jellyfish. Its seats are attached to the ends of long cables so that riders can easily get on and off the bus. Joachim’s other designs include the Fab Tree Hab, a low-cost house that would be grown from native trees.



Formerly an architect at Gehry Partners and Pei Cobb Freed, Joachim has won the History Channel and Infiniti Excellence Award for the City of the Future. In 2008,Wired magazine chose him one of “15 People the Next President Should Listen To,” and Rolling Stone has included Mitchell on its list of “The 100 People Who are Changing America.”


Other symposium speakers are:



  • Nancy Levinson, editor of Places, an online design forum. She works to broaden the public constituency for progressive urban and environmental design.
  • Ken Tadashi Oshima, an associate professor in the UW Department of Architecture who teaches trans-national architectural history, theory, representation and design. As an editor and contributor to Architecture + Urbanism, he co-authored a two-volume special issue: Visions of the Real: Modern Houses in the 20th Century.
  • Richard M. Sommer, dean of architecture, landscape and design at the University of Toronto. Formerly at Harvard, Sommer served as director of its Urban Design programs. His current work includes helping government agencies and other groups in Northern Ireland develop new designs for its cities and towns as they emerge from three decades of The Troubles.
  • Adam Yarinsky, principal and co-founder of Architecture Research Office, a New York-based firm practicing modern architecture and imaginative urbanism. This year, the American Academy of Arts and Letters honored Yarinsky and his business partner, Stephen Cassell, with its Academy Award for Architecture.


For more information on the symposium, click here.