2 Great Lectures on Walkability in Urban Design and Placemaking

Daniels B.E.S.T. Lecture: Jennifer Keesmaat “Integrating Walkability in Urban Design”

On November 7, 2013, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto Jennifer Keesmaat presented the talk “Walking Your Talk – Integrating Walkability in Urban Design” as part of the Building, Ecology, Science and Technology (B.E.S.T.) Lecture Series at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

Is there an urban amenity that is more democratic than walkability? Regardless of your demographic, walking around your city is a positive way to improve your health, the economy and the environment. But many of Toronto’s new developments have failed to give priority to walkability, in stark contrast to the numerous established districts and neighbourhoods that are among the most walkable in the world. As population growth advances across the GTHA, it is critical for sustainable urban development to walk its talk through effective guidelines and a deeper understanding of best practices. Undoing unwalkability will also be an important future challenge. This public lecture examined how walkability can be advanced while positively contributing to the challenges of intensification, public transit and priority neighbourhoods.

As the recently engaged Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, Jennifer is committed to creating places where people flourish. Over the past decade Jennifer has been repeatedly recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners, OPPI, the Design Exchange, + EDRA for her innovative work in Canadian municipalities. Her planning practice is characterized by an emphasis on collaborations across sectors, and broad engagement with municipal staff, councils, developers, business leaders, NGOs and residents associations. Her priorities include developing a divisional strategic plan, leading an Official Plan review process, refining public consultation to provide more access to city building conversations, transit planning, midrise development on the City of Toronto’s many avenues, and overseeing development review for over 4000 applications annually.

Jennifer is the founder of Project Walk, which premiered its first short film in 2011, as an official selection at TIFF. In 2012 Jennifer debuted her first TED talk, Walk to School and in 2013 she delivered her second, Own Your City. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario (combined honours English and Philosophy) and has a Master in Environmental Studies (Politics and Planning) from York University.

Lecture series proudly sponsored by Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance.

For more information about the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto, visit us at http://www.daniels.utoronto.ca.

CNU 22: Harriet Tregoning & Jennifer Keesmaat

Two of North America’s most influential urban planners— Harriet Tregoning, Director of the Washington, DC Office of Planning, and Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto—will examine the biggest planning challenges facing their cities and how they are adapting to be more resilient.

Harriet Tregoning is a prominent smart growth advocate largely responsible for making DC a walkable, bikeable, and eminently livable. Her main priority as head planner is making DC the most sustainable city in the US, doing so by undertaking the re-write of the city’s zoning code and collaborating with her transportation colleagues to expand transportation choices in the district, like launching Capital Bikeshare.

For more than a decade, Jennifer Keesmaat has been recognized numerous times for her innovative work in municipalities across Canada, amassing a variety of awards for planning excellence. She set Toronto’s planning agenda back in September 2012—her first day as Chief Planner—in an op-ed in the Globe and Mail titled Our Cities Will Define Our Future: “I believe this is the best possible moment, both locally and nationally, to engage in city building and taking ownership of our shared future.”

After addressing issues of urban resiliency, Harriet Tregoning and Jennifer Keesmaat comment on the future of DC and Toronto, respectively, and offer advice to local host Buffalo.

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