The United States is currently at a crossroad where the transitions between its past, present and future are being articulated. Cities from around the country are challenged in unprecedented ways at the beginning of this 21st century. The American urban model, developed around cars, highways, and vast suburbs, is slowly exhausting its promises for a better life while poor planning has made cities incredibly obsolete. In this time of crisis, many places have to learn how to become relevant again.
At a global level, many people are asking what makes a city great. Are great cities those that provide unforgettable experiences? Or are they places that manage to seamlessly bind the way they look with the way they work? How should they balance both tradition and modernity?
This paper shows, through best practice examples collected during a 30-city tour, the various roles that designers play in this time of urban transformation. It also questions the implications linked to historic preservation and the relevance of both old and new ideas in urban environments.