Happy New Year 2020!

Dear Colleagues,

Best wishes for the New Year, from the staff and board of the IMCL!

I wanted to give you a personal update on the expansion and growth of the IMCL, and especially our developing plans for the next big conference in June 2020…

As you might know, the IMCL was founded in 1985 by the late Dr. Henry L. Lennard, a renowned Viennese medical sociologist, and the late Dr Suzanne C. Lennard, a prominent English architectural scholar. The Lennards were passionate about sharing the best evidence-based lessons of great cities and towns to improve quality of life for all. To do it, they brought together many of the world’s most innovative and successful mayors, planners, economic development specialists, designers, developers, NGO officials, and researchers and scholars. We are honored to continue that tradition with the Suzanne C. and Henry L. Lennard Institute for Livable Cities, a public benefit corporation with charitable status under US 501(c)(3) rules.

The IMCL will continue in its mission to bring together leading mayors like Sven von Ungern-Sternberg of Freiburg, Germany, Joe Riley of Charleston USA, and George Ferguson of Bristol UK and the Royal Institute of British Architects… acclaimed planners and designers like Jan Gehl of Copenhagen, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk of Miami, and Patrick Condon of Vancouver…  world-renowned researchers like Dr. Richard J. Jackson of UCLA, Ellen Dunham-Jones of Georgia Tech, and Christopher Leinberger of George Washington University… global urban policy leaders like Laura Petrella of UN-Habitat… and many more.

Each IMCL gathering has focused on a host city offering important and timely lessons in livable and sustainable urban development. Past hosts have included Freiburg, Germany; Charleston, USA; Bristol, UK; Venice, Italy; Portland (OR) USA; and San Francisco, USA.  Importantly, the IMCL conferences cover not just big cities but also small towns and suburbs, since such a large percentage of the world’s inhabitants live in these areas, and many of the world’s social, economic and environmental challenges occur there too.

We hope you will consider joining us for our 2020 Conference, “From Sprawl to Neighborhoods: Livable Cities (and Suburbs) for ALL.” The transformation of sprawl into livable, walkable, sustainable neighborhoods remains an urgent challenge, especially so in an age of unprecedented rapid urbanization. 

We’ll gather this year in Carmel, Indiana, a fascinating USA case study of transformation from a sprawling bedroom community to a walkable, diverse, thriving and livable town. Using Carmel as one concrete example, we’ll ask, what are the effective new tools and strategies to bring positive change to suburban areas?  What are the barriers Carmel and other similar success stories faced, and how did they overcome them? (Or if they didn’t, what can we learn from those lessons too?) What are their successes and lessons learned, and what can other places learn from them?

And we’ll examine other related challenges for cities and towns today, including the crisis of affordable housing, the need for climate resilience and adaptation, promoting neighborhood health, achieving urban equity, promoting active mobility, age-friendly cities, neighborhoods for children, and much more.  We’ll also consider the timeless requirements for human scale architecture and mixed-use urban fabric, for reviving city and town centers, and creating vibrant public places where people can gather for farmers markets, festivals, outdoor cafes and community social life.

We’ll hear from leading researchers about the best evidence on emerging challenges and effective methods, including financial tools, regulatory innovations, design strategies, and promising (and occasionally worrisome) new technologies.  We’ll hear from practitioners on the front lines about their successes and challenges, and the latest research on effective approaches. We’ll learn the latest trends from around North America, Europe, and other parts of the world, in livable and sustainable development.

We’ll also pay special tribute to the Lennards, our founders, and Suzanne Lennard’s tireless work in the years following her husband Henry’s death, up to her own death last year. They left an enduring legacy and a vital mission for the quality of life in cities, towns and neighborhoods into the future. I know I speak for the entire Board, including Sven von Ungern-Sternberg, George Ferguson, Dick Jackson, and all our other colleagues, when I say that we are honored and thrilled to be able to build on and expand their legacy.

We hope you will join us in Carmel… and beyond!

Michael W. Mehaffy, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Suzanne C. and Henry L. Lennard Institute for Livable Cities


“The best conference on cities.”

– Joseph P. Riley, Jr., former Mayor, Charleston, SC

“The most important continuous conference dialogue on making the world's cities and towns more livable for all of their inhabitants.”

– Dr. Sven von Ungern-Sternberg, former Mayor, Freiburg, Germany

“I know of no other conference which provides the international expertise.”

– Sylvia Sutherland, former Mayor, City of Peterborough, Ontario

“The Conference holds a magnifying glass to the world’s best cities, revealing why and how they work.”

– Benjamin Thompson, FAIA, AIA Gold Medalist

“Love for our cities unites all of us in this unique, impressive conference, with participants from different countries, with different professional backgrounds, but with one purpose: making our cities more livable.”

– Antonio Casellati, former Mayor, City of Venice, Italy

“These conferences were and I’m sure are still game changers. My first conference was in around 2003 or 2004 in Sarasota. It was pivotal for me as a new CAO of an Ontario municipality having emerged from the public works and engineering area. It helped to shape our town, Newmarket.”

– Bob Shelton, CAO, Newmarket, Ontario

“I've learned more from this conference than any other conference that I've ever gone to.  I've been a city councillor now for twenty years, and I'm so glad I went to that first one twenty years ago.”

– Kim Richter, City Councillor, Langley, BC

“A truly invigorating event.  I was inspired by being able to connect with so many wonderful people from around the world who are all passionate about the creation of great places."

– James Dougherty, Director of Design, Dover, Kohl & Partners

"The diversity of the audience, the excellent presentations – and importantly, the passion of the movement – have influenced my thinking and next steps.”

– Candance Kokinakis, Ph.D., Sr. Director of Safe Routes to School, Michigan Fitness

“One of the best professional events I have ever attended. Well-structured, extremely well-organized and super-high quality of both the presenters and materials presented.”

– Dr. Mirela Newman, Coordinator, Urban Studies Graduate Program, Southern Connecticut St. University

“The lively exchange of ideas and the opportunity to communicate with colleagues as well as civic decision makers made the sessions extremely successful… Both new and, I am sure, lasting friendships have been formed.”

– Professor Derek Drummond, McDonald Professor of Architecture, Vice Principal, McGill University

“Architects, community organizations, city administrators, planners, urban designers, landscape architects, social scientists and developers committed to making cities livable, all attended. Participants came from places as close as San Francisco and the U.S. Eastern seaboard, to as far away as Samarkand, Russia; Prague, Czech Republic; Germany; The Hague; New Guinea; Switzerland; Australia; Venice, Italy; Austria; United Kingdom; Canada; Belgium; and Hong Kong. These international forums provide the yeast and inspiration to apply ideas to one’s own hometown.”

– M. Elizabeth Martin, Director, San Francisco Beautiful

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to call to the attention of the Members of this body the work of the International Making Cities Livable conference… a forum for hundreds of speakers and participants from 37 states and 11 countries to present ideas.”

– The Hon. Walter E. Fauntroy, U.S. House of Representatives