Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and hosted in conjunction with PennDesign, this ground-breaking symposium addressed the role of urban design in the face of one of the most profound and important challenges facing global society: the need to re-imagine and rethink how cities are designed and organized in a future without the plentiful and abundant oil upon which prosperous urban economies have been built. The event marked the 50th Anniversary of the 1958 University of Pennsylvania/Rockefeller Foundation “Conference on Urban Design Criticism,” whose participants included Jane Jacobs, Louis Kahn, Kevin Lynch, Ian McHarg, Lewis Mumford, and I.M. Pei. That historic conference helped shape the new field of urban design in the 20th Century.
An accompanying exhibition showcased innovative ideas, projects, initiatives, and policies from around the world that sought to reduce emissions by changing the way we inhabit cities. Documenting the rise in oil dependency, changing development patterns, and demographic trends, the exhibition threaded prescient theories and artifacts surrounding the 1958 conference with contemporary challenges of the urban design profession.