Designing the Purpose City
A Photo-Essay from the Purpose City Workshop in Dallas, Texas
NBBJ was an active participant in the New Cities Summit (June 17–19), the annual conference of the New Cities Foundation (of which we became a member last year), a leading global platform on the future of cities. With the theme “Re-Imagining Cities: Transforming the 21st Century Metropolis,” the summit, held this year in Dallas, Texas, convened more than 800 international urban thinkers and doers from all sectors for three days of rich discussion and dialogue.
In tandem with the conference, we produced and hosted a side-event, The Purpose City, in partnership with the New Cities Foundation and Imperative, a social design firm. Inspired by the book The Purpose Economy (by Imperative’s CEO, Aaron Hurst) and modeled on the principles of a hackathon, the day-long Purpose City workshop brought together 50 leaders in government, business, design and academia to explore how we shape our cities as the number of urban citizens swells, as the urban fabric densifies, as the digital and physical increasingly merge and as Millennials strive toward values such as purpose and meaning.
In most of the world’s cities, the information economy has driven innovation and economic growth, but a new generation of workers, consumers, and citizens is increasingly looking for experiences that connect to a greater purpose, enabling them to have social impact and find like-minded communities. How can we reinvent our cities in this new “age of purpose”? Can we build — or rebuild — city spaces in ways that enable more trust among both familiars and strangers? How do we nurture happiness and wellbeing?
The Purpose City workshop was a mix of rapid ideation and prototyping, rich discourse and debate, and hands-on collaboration. It was an incredibly inspiring and educational day that created connections between a highly diverse group of people with different perspectives and agendas. We were blown away by the energy and commitment of all the participants as well as the quality of their work.
The participants told us they greatly appreciated the unique hackathon-meets-town-hall-meets-TED format and the opportunity to collaborate with other urban stakeholders and constituents. The workshop spawned many interesting conversations and follow-up opportunities, and created a community that we are going to cultivate and grow.
A detailed report of The Purpose City workshop will be available here soon.
An invitation to think, debate and work together in an intense 10-hour setting: Mathieu Lefevre, executive director of the New Cities Foundation, in his opening remarks.
Lots of questions…
Lots of opinions…
“The information economy will not last forever.” – Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative and author of the book The Purpose Economy
“The city is a fusion reactor for social and economic interaction… We need to design for more informality, more blur.” – Greg Lindsay, urban theorist and author of the book Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next
“50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities. 50 per cent of the world’s population is under 30 years of age.” – Sonja Miokovic, co-founder and director of YouthfulCities
Back to school: the workshop took place at the Booker T. Washington High School of the Visual and Performing Arts in Dallas.
“Cage matches”: practicing the art of civic debate.
Mapping out the Purpose City off-stage…
…and on stage.
From happiness to purpose: the times they are a-changing.
From grassroots to grey suits: Purpose City participants included social activists, community organizers, philanthropists, software developers, real estate developers, mayors, investors, entrepreneurs, urban designers, planners, architects, product designers, researchers and more…
Photos by Sean Airhart/NBBJ.
This post was first published by Means The World.