Moderator: Richard Dobbs, Director, McKinsey Global Institute
Fran Tonkiss, Director, Cities Program, London School of Economics
Amanda Burden, Director, Department of City Planning, New York City
Paul Romer, Director, The Urbanization Project, NYU Stern
Amanda M. Burden, an urban planner and civic activist, is Chair of the New York City Planning Commission and Director of the Department of City Planning. Since her appointment in 2002, she has spearheaded Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development initiatives with comprehensive urban design master plans designed to catalyze commercial and residential development throughout the city and to reclaim its waterfront. Among these are master plans for the East River Waterfront in Lower Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City and Jamaica in Queens, as well as the Hudson Yards on the far west side of Manhattan. The Hudson Yards plan, the city’s largest and most ambitious rezoning proposal, will create much needed office space and new housing as well as a network of new parkland and public open space.
Under her direction, the Department of City Planning has also initiated rezoning plans that provide significant new housing opportunities in neighborhoods such as Greenpoint/Williamsburg in Brooklyn, East and Central Harlem, and Port Morris in the Bronx. She has championed and facilitated the preservation of the High Line in Manhattan, part of the West Chelsea/High Line plan, and the recipient of a 2006 National Planning Award from the American Planning Association. Ms. Burden is also overseeing the transformation of the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island into a world-class park. Recognizing the value of neighborhoods of special character, she has sponsored rezonings to protect numerous low-density neighborhoods throughout the city.
Amanda Burden served on the City Planning Commission from 1990 until her appointment as Chair in 2002. From 1983 until 1990, she was responsible for the planning and design of Battery Park City and oversaw the design of all open spaces, including the Esplanade and the 30 acres of parkland.
In 2005, Pratt Institute awarded Ms. Burden an Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration, and the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects presented her with its 2005 Center for Architecture Award. Ms. Burden’s dedication to design excellence was recognized by the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, which presented her with its 2004 Design Patron award. In l987, Ms. Burden received the Sidney Strauss Award from the New York Society of Architects "for outstanding achievement for the benefit of the architectural profession."
Amanda Burden has been involved for many years with the city’s cultural community and with civic groups dedicated to improving the quality of life in the city. She served as Chair of the Board of Creative Time, Inc., was a Member of the Board of the Center for Arts Education, of the Nature Conservancy, of the Architectural League and of the Fund for the City of New York, and she is a Trustee of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation.
Richard Dobbs is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), McKinsey's business and economics research arm, and a director (senior partner) of McKinsey based in London.
Paul Romer is Professor of Economics at New York University's Stern School of Business and Director of its Urbanization Project. The Urbanization Project addresses a truly historic challenge and opportunity: welcoming an additional 3 - 5 billion people to urban life in less than a century. The Project's first initiative helps existing cities plan for expansion. Its second initiative fosters the creation of entirely new cities because history shows that a new city offers a uniquely important opportunity to implement systemic social reform and speed up progress.
Prior to joining Stern, Romer taught at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, where he took an entrepreneurial detour to start Aplia, an education technology company dedicated to increasing student effort and engagement. Romer is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2002, he received the Recktenwald Prize for his work on the role of ideas in sustaining economic growth.
Fran Tonkiss is Reader in Sociology, and Director of the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics. Her research and teaching is in the fields of urban and economic sociology. Her interests in urbanism include cities and social theory, urban development and design, urban inequalities, spatial divisions and public space. In economic sociology, her research focuses on markets, globalisation, trust and social capital. Publications in these fields include Space, the City and Social Theory (Polity, 2005), and Contemporary Economic Sociology: Globalisation, Production, Inequality (Routledge, 2006). She is the co-author of Market Society: Markets and Modern Social Theory (Polity, 2001, with Don Slater), and co-editor of Trust and Civil Society (Macmillan, 2000, with Andrew Passey). She is currently managing editor of Economy and Society; she was previously an editor of the British Journal of Sociology, and remains a member of the editorial board.
Fran Tonkiss supervises doctoral students undertaking research on urban development, economic and spatial restructuring, public space, urban economies and governance.