Overview of 2019 Activities

ABOVE LEFT:  A New Pattern Language for Growing Regions, completed in 2019 and to be launched in early 2020.  CENTER: Navigation page of the new wiki “repository” version of the same pattern language, which will be editable and modifiable by users. RIGHT: Interview with Richard Florida by Michael Mehaffy at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Report by Michael Mehaffy, Executive Director

This year saw Sustasis develop a stronger focus on its activities in publishing, as well as stronger collaborations with two other key partners, Ax:son Johnson Foundation (and its Centre for the Future of Places at KTH University, Stockholm) and, new this year, the Lennard Institute for Livable Cities, hosts of a long-running and well-regarded conference series. We also developed other collaborations with important partners including UN-Habitat, King Salman Center for Local Governance, PlacemakingX, the European Placemaking Network, and CNU Public Square, among others.

At the same time, our hosting of the USA chapter of the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU) came to a close, as that entity seeks its own independent corporate status as a designated 501(c)(3) entity under US laws. Our collaboration with INTBAU will continue, including an invited participation by executive director Michael Mehaffy in an INTBAU session at the World Urban Forum in 2020.

Our work continues to be centered on urban networks and their evolution, and the tools to manage them at the local neighborhood scale. We refer to this subject as an evolving “place network theory.” A related theme has been to understand and better manage the networks of knowledge and governance that also affect the public realm and the well-being of urban residents. We have explored the use of pattern languages as tools to capture this knowledge for improving our built environment, and its capacities for human well-being. We have also explored the wider issue of knowledge curation and development, particularly in a context of the rapid development of social media and other big data technologies, and some disturbing aspects that, we believe, must be confronted and managed. (This was the topic of our keynote to the International Society for the Systems Sciences in June of 2019.)

On the publishing front, we developed several books as well as curricular materials, journal articles, blog posts, videos, and other forms of dissemination of the Foundation’s work (listed below). Michael Mehaffy was also active in major keynote lectures and other presentations in the USA, Europe, the Middle East, and Central America.

In addition to our growing catalog of books for sale, we also entered a partnership with CNU Public Square to serve as the publisher of a book titled 25 Great Ideas of the New Urbanism. We are awaiting word on a grant application that was made for this project.

One of the most important current projects for us is a new edition of patterns, titled A New Pattern Language for Growing Regions: Places, Networks, Processes. The book will also launch a new repository of shareable and editable patterns in a new wiki “repository,” in collaboration with board member Ward Cunningham, the inventor of wiki. The project is also in collaboration with UN-Habitat and the Centre for the Future of Places at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. We have been invited to launch the book at the World Urban Forum in February 2020.


- Mehaffy, M., Kryazheva, Y., Rudd, A. and Salingaros, N. (Forthcoming). A New Pattern Language for Growing Regions. Portland: Sustasis Press, with Centre for the Future of Places and UN-Habitat.

- Mehaffy, M. and Elmlund, P. (Forthcoming). The Private Lives of Public Spaces, Portland: Sustasis Press, with Centre for the Future of Places.

- Mehaffy, M. (Forthcoming) Notes on an Incomplete Architecture. Portland: Sustasis Press (TBC)

- Mehaffy ,M. (Forthcoming). Place Network Theory: Understanding the Secrets of Great Urban Places. Portland: Sustasis Press.

Research Publications

- Mehaffy, M. (2019). “New Urbanism and the New Urban Agenda.” In A Research Agenda for New Urbanism (2019). Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

- Mehaffy, M. (2019). “Assessing Alexander’s Later Contributions to a Science of Cities.” Urban Science 3 (2), 59

- Mehaffy, M. (2019). “Curating Main Streets: The factors of success.” In Street Life: The Future of Urban Retail. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

- Mehaffy, M. (2019). "A City is Not a Technopole." In Why Yachay, Michael Sorkin, ed. New York: Terreform.

- Mehaffy M. (2019). "The Power of Urbanism, and the Importance of Spreading it Around." In Ten Years of Urban City Research, Peter Elmlund, ed. Stockholm: Axess.

- Mehaffy, M. (2019). "The Gentrification Challenge." In Our City: Countering Exclusion in Public Space. Minouche Besters, Editor. Rotterdam: STIPO.

- Mehaffy, M. and Low, S. (2019). “The resurgence of public space: from the Charter of Athens to the New Urban Agenda.” The Journal of Public Space 3 (3), 1-24

- Haas, T. and Mehaffy, M. (2019). “The Future of Public Space.” Urban Design International 24 (1), 75-75

- Mehaffy, M., Haas, T., and Elmlund, P. (2019). “Public Space in the New Urban Agenda: Research into Implementation.” Urban Planning 4 (2), 134-137.

- Mehaffy, M., Elmlund, P. and Farrell, K. (2019). “Implementing the New Urban Agenda: the central role of public space.” Urban Design International 24 (1), 4-6

- Mehaffy, M., Elmlund, P. and Haas, T. (2019). “The Private Lives of Public Spaces.” In Handbook of Public Space. Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

- Mehaffy, M., Haas, T. and Elmlund, P. (2019). “Public spaces and private conflicts in the New Urban Agenda.” In WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, Vol 238, Ashurst, UK: WIT Press.

General Publications

- Blog, Livable Portland, livableportland.org, in partnership with IMCL (numerous posts on issues of Portland livability)

- Blog, Future of Places Research Network, foprn.org, in partnership with Ax:son Johnson Foundation and the Centre for the Future of Places (numerous posts on implementation of the New Urban Agenda)

- Blog post, “Portland Throwing its Pioneering Neighborhood System Under the Bus.” Planetizen, January 28, 2019.

- Blog post, “We need ‘Goldilocks,’ not ‘voodoo,’ urbanism.” CNU Public Square, January 16, 2019.

- Blog post, “The Emperor’s New Buildings.” CNU Public Square, February 19, 2019.

- Blog post, “The Urban Dimensions of Climate Change: Lessons for a New Urbanism.” CNU Public Square, March 19, 2019.

- Blog post, “Beyond Resilience: Toward ‘Antifragile’ Urbanism.” CNU Public Square, April 17, 2019.

- Op-ed, “Civic Life “improvements’ an assault on neighborhood association system.” The Oregonian, July 24, 2019.

- Essay series, “Building Tomorrow’s Heritage.” National Trust for Historic Preservation blog, savingplaces.org. (Essay series on applications of new research to heritage and regeneration, co-authored with Nikos Salingaros.)

Keynote Speaking and/or Co-organization of Conferences, Symposia and Meetings

(By Executive Director Michael Mehaffy, unless otherwise noted)

- “Why a City is Still Not a Tree.” February 14, 2019, Sorrento IT. Building Beauty Masters' Programme (invited lecture and class).

- “Public Space in the New Urban Agenda: A Changing Paradigm for Modern Development?” April 30, 2019, Riyadh, SA. Keynote presentation for King Salman Center for Local Governance and Prince Sultan University.

- “Public Space as Urban Network Gateway: Centre Research on Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits.” 8 March 2019, Stockholm, SE. Research network symposium at the Centre for the Future of Places, KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

- “The Shape of Cities.” (Session moderation.) April 15, 2019, Trento, IT. At OECD Conference, “SMEs and the Urban Fabric”. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLyvVckUfts&feature=youtu.be

- “Offentlig-privat platssamverkan för säkra, trygga och attraktiva offentliga miljöer (Public-private partnerships for safe, secure and attractive public environments).” May 7, 2019, Stockholm SE. International Conference on Business Improvement Districts, hosted by Stiftelsen Tryggare Sverige.

- “The Future of Public Space and Beyond.” May 14, 2019, Reykjavik, Iceland. At round table at conference on public space organized by Ax:son Johnson Foundation.

- “Innovation Districts for Rapidly Urbanising Cities: Opportunities and Challenges.” May 30, 2019, Naurobi Kenya. UN-Habitat Assembly, side event organized by Ax:son Johnson Foundation and UN-Habitat.

- “Smart City Networks: It's the People, Stupid! ;)” June 13, 2019, Louisville KY USA. Annual conference, Congress for the New Urbanism.

- “Inter-Weaving Natural and Urban Networks: The Scales of Urbanity.” June 14, 2019, Louisville KY USA. Annual conference, Congress for the New Urbanism.

- “Portland as an International Lab: What Have We Learned?” June 18, 2019, Portland OR USA. Annual conference, International Making Cities Livable.

- “Design for Self-Organization: New Processes for Social Housing in Latin America,” June 22, 2019, Panama City, Panama. Annual conference of ARC Latin America, billed as “Latin America's Leading Architects Forum”.

- “From Systems to Patterns: Toward Curated Web-Networks of Reliable Knowledge in the Age of Clickbait and Fake News.” June 30, 2019, Corvallis, OR. Annual conference, International Society for the Systems Sciences.

- “Public Spaces and Private Conflicts in the New Urban Agenda.” October 1, 2019, Valencia, Spain. 13th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability.

- “Changing Models of Design, Development and Innovation.” November 7, 2019, Yale University, School of Management.

- “Urban Pathways and Dividends: Exploring the Variable Impacts of Urban Form.” November 11, 2019, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.

- Interview with Richard Florida. November 15, 2019, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and the Built Environment.

- “Exploring New Urbanization Pathways for Resilience and Adaptation.” November 19, 2019, Jheronimus Academy of Data Sciences.

We welcome your questions, comments, or proposals for collaboration – and as always, we are grateful for support in all forms!