NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) President Steve Altman delivered a keynote speech on “Design and the City” May 19 at the 31st International Young Designers’ Exhibition (YODEX), an annual exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan, that attracts about 100,000 people. His speech focused on the role of architecture and design to create “cities that work” as a way of enhancing the human experience through efficient transportation, sustainability measures and improved infrastructure.
Dr. Altman, addressing more than 350 designers, city planners, government officials and members of the public, noted that “cities that work” integrate and connect systems of transportation, utilities, healthcare and business. In addition, Dr. Altman outlined four attributes of successful city design: proactive city designers, designing for sustainability, designing for effective mobility and designing for the human experience.
“The city designer must be proficient with the theory, technique and values of city design,” said Dr. Altman. “Great designs stem from a process, not from a sudden and random inspiration alone.”
Dr. Altman noted that architecture and design schools cultivate this thought process through systematic academic programs and real-world experience. He highlighted the NSAD philosophy of connecting students with community projects that provide opportunities for students to contribute to urban design projects, plans and policies, including those with a focus on sustainable design.
Dr. Altman spoke about how creating a “city that works” also applies to the rapid growth in cities in Asia. “Asian cities draw ideas from many sources that transcend conventional boundaries. While inspired by external, global and Western models, they also draw on their own past and local culture, and from neighboring societies,” he said. “The designer’s goal is to capture the best of these multidimensional features and fashion them into something unique to the region.”
In his discussion of what it means to design for the human experience, Dr. Altman urged designers and architects to develop “green” buildings in connected communities and healthy settings. “Walkable neighborhoods increase physical activity and reduce dependence on cars,” said Altman. “Proper design of indoor spaces can increase productivity and comfort while creating diverse land uses in urban areas through open spaces that encourage people to meet and interact.”