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“You need elegant solutions that can solve multiple problems at the same time… you can think about this in the context of basically any urban problem. We need to be able to do more with the same amount. Or in some cases, we need to be able to do more with less… and climate is like the ultimate challenge that is really getting cities and regions to do this, right?

Tracy Hadden Loh, Fellow with the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking, Brookings Metro

Part one of this interview with Brookings Metro fellow Tracy Hadden Loh discussed the lasting influences of post-pandemic work trends on urban design and governance.

Although it is the most recent example, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the first major disruptor of economic activity within major U.S. metros, and it certainly will not be the last. A century earlier, the widespread adoption of automobiles changed the way metropolitan areas function to this day, allowing for mass migration to the outlying suburbs of once-booming central cities.

With awareness that perennial industry and population growth is a fickle thing to maintain, more city leaders, developers, and urban planners are reacquainting themselves with the idea of ‘placemaking’ as a method for creating a resilient communities. Popularized in the mid-twentieth century by pioneers like Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte, the placemaking movement in the U.S. has long lauded the potential for urban living to foster human connections. Placemaking has since seen a twenty-first-century revival that has gained renewed energy as urban advocates aim to recover city life that was lost during the pandemic—with new insights into the values of equity and sustainability.

In this second half of their discussion, Tracy Hadden Loh and Ten Across founder Duke Reiter will discuss the ambitions of the placemaking movement, and how it can improve the urban issues that were covered in the previous episode.

Articles referenced in this episode:

“New census estimates show a tepid rise in U.S. population growth, buoyed by immigration” (Brookings, January 2023)

Hyperlocal: Place Governance in a Fragmented World (Vey, S. Jennifer; Storring, Nate, 2022)

“How a ‘Golden Era for Large Cities’ Might Be Turning Into an ‘Urban Doom Loop’” (The New York Times, November 2022)

“The Perfect Height for Urban Buildings” (Next City, February 2024)

“Opinion: A Life Without a Home” (The New York Times, February 2024)

“Homelessness in US cities and downtowns” (Brookings, December 2023)

“AG suing Arizona landlords for ‘corrupting’ market, colluding to keep rents high” (12News, February 2024)

Guest Speaker

Tracy Hadden Loh

Tracy Hadden Loh is a Fellow with the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking at Brookings Metro, where she integrates her interests in commercial real estate, infrastructure, racial justice, and governance. She also serves on the boards of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Greater Greater Washington and holds a Ph.D. in city planning.