Amid the current housing and affordability crisis, there is a clear need for city governments to take an expanded role in promoting the practice of good design in the provision of affordable housing, and in recognizing the role of housing as a critical building block of strong neighborhoods. This symposium explores new cultures of municipal leadership and public/private partnerships to meet the ever-growing need for quality affordable housing and sustainable community development in both London and New York.

London and New York share remarkably similar trajectories in the evolution of modes of housing delivery over the last century. In the mid-20th century, publicly funded housing was front and center of urban reform; London and New York mirrored one another in terms of the scale and scope of their enlightened municipal building programs that sought to raise living standards, improve the public realm, and renew urban fabric. From the 1980s through the turn of the century, however, much of the growth enjoyed by both cities has been driven by private development, the privatization of public assets, and what many call the commodification of housing, leading to a severe decline in the availability of housing that’s affordable.

Today, both cities face a similar set of crises, including climate change, social and economic injustices, and an ongoing pandemic that has disproportionately affected low-income communities, all of which compound the impact of a newly emerging housing crisis marked by the largest shortage of affordable housing in either city’s history.

Co-organized by the AIANY Housing Committee and Center for Architecture, with significant contributions from NYC’s Public Design Commission, this symposium will explore the role of city and municipal governments in promoting good design in publicly subsidized housing and community development. With keynote speakers including Jessica Katz, NYC’s Chief Housing Officer, and Tom Copley, London Deputy Mayor for Housing, and contributions from architects, policymakers, and design advocates from both sides of the Atlantic, including Paul Karakusevic, Andy Bernheimer, Peter O’Brien, Delma Palma, Pooja Agrawal, and Rebecca Macklis, as well as David Burney, Karen Kubey, and Brian Loughlin, this half-day symposium explores parallel approaches to the role of city government in promoting good design and recent changes in municipal culture.

As both New York and London look ahead to dealing with this new housing crisis, we ask: What does a new municipal culture for housing look like? How can we deliver it? How do we shift our current understanding of civic wellbeing and what role could our housing stock and the fabric of the city’s diverse neighborhoods play in improving community health, resilience, and equity?