Pressing Change in the Increasing Inflexible City – Emily Badger – Lewis Mumford Lecture Recording

This year’s Lewis Mumford Lecture was held on Thursday, April 27, 2023, at 6 pm. 

Emily Badger is a staff writer with The New York Times, covering cities and urban policy. She is particularly interested in housing, transportation, and inequality — and how they’re all connected. Prior to joining the Times in 2016, she wrote for The Washington Post and The Atlantic Cities (now CityLab). She grew up in Chicago, a city that has shaped a lot of her thinking about these topics, and today she lives in and writes from Washington, D.C.

“Pressing Change in the Increasing Inflexible City”: As we emerge from the pandemic, we need to adapt so much of city life: We need offices to become homes and our homes to become workplaces. We need hotels to become SROs. We need sidewalks to become restaurants, and parking lanes to become bus corridors, and roads dedicated to cars to become safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians. But in many ways, cities have become increasingly inflexible to change, through the cumulative complexity of decades of building and zoning codes, through a tangled mix of good intentions and NIMBY politics. Adapting the city as we need for the future — from the level of individual buildings to citywide policy — will require understanding and confronting that legacy of inflexibility.


About the Lewis Mumford Lecture:

Each spring, the Spitzer School of Architecture and its Urban Design Program present the Lewis Mumford Lecture and seminar. Named for writer, architecture critic, and urbanist Lewis Mumford, who attended City College, the series invites the world’s most distinguished urbanists to speak freely and publicly about the future of cities and the social purposes of architecture. This series was initiated by the late Michael Sorkin, distinguished professor of architecture and director of the Urban Design Program at the Spitzer School, and curated by him for eleven years.


Previous Lewis Mumford Lecturers:

2004 Jane Jacobs
2005 Mike Davis
2006 Enrique Peñalosa
2007 Amartya Sen
2008 David Harvey
2009 Paul Auster
2011 Richard Sennett
2012 Janette Sadik-Khan
2013 Marshall Berman
2014 Theaster Gates
2015 Rebecca Solnit
2022 Yasmeen Lari