The Intellectuals That've Had the Biggest Impact on Cities

Zócalo Public Square has gathered together four accomplished planning and development professionals to give their opinions on which scholar or intellectual of the last 50 years has had the greatest impact on the cities we live in today.

Respondents Mitchell Silver, president of the American Planning Association (APA), Shelley Poticha, director for the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at HUD, author and educator Max Grinnell, and Alfredo Brillembourg, co-principal of Urban-Think Tank, discuss their picks for the thinkers who've had a lasting impact on the form and character of our contemporary cities.

Silver recognizes planner and educator Kevin Lynch, who, "influenced a generation of planners and designers at a time when cities were not fashionable or the preferred places to live...Twenty-first century cities owe Kevin Lynch a debt of gratitude for the resurgence of placemaking and good urban design-a resurgence that has been 50 years in the making."

Grinnell cites James Q. Wilson, author of the landmark article on the "broken windows" theory. According to Grinnell, "his [Wilson's] work has found its way into the daily operations of dozens, yea hundreds, of police departments around the United States...Wilson's work has given local law enforcement agencies the intellectual rigor and scholarly backing to engage in a carte blanche type of selective enforcement of certain violations, often leading to a continued marginalization of inner-city communities, most frequently those containing people of color."

Full Story: Revenge of the (Urban) Nerds


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