How do you define urban design? Is it an independent, legitimate discipline or one that is located somewhere else in the professions of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning? 60 years after the term was coined the jury is still out, even following the 1956 Urban Design Conference. Harvard Design Magazine opened another round of discussion in 2006, the semi-centennial of the first urban design program. In 2010 the famous Duany – Krieger exchange in Metropolis marked another turn in the conversation.

The AIANY Planning and Urban Design Committee thinks it is time to re-examine the issue. Through this panel discussion, we are beginning an event series dedicated to illustrating key challenges in urban design as both an academic discipline and an area of practice.

We want to recognize the polyphonic nature of urban discourse and to welcome all who are willing and able to join this conversation, regardless of their disciplinary affiliation. The focus is not on assigning labels and titles, but rather on identifying shared values and coordinating efforts to improve places where we all live. It is only appropriate that the community of urban thinkers and doers is as diverse and vibrant as the city itself.