The Future of Small Cities Institute to Host Virtual Webinar on The Future of Urban Highways

The webinar speaks to a national movement to dismantle and redesign urban highways

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. — The Future of Small Cities Institute, founded in 2020 by award winning author Reif Larsen, alongside a designated panel will host a virtual webinar on Wednesday, May 26 from 11 a.m. — 12:30 p.m., named On the Road to Nowhere: The Future of Urban Highways in Upstate New York, that will mainstream public discourse around the concept of urban highways.

“This is the moment to reconsider the devastating legacy of our urban highways. As we reimagine our communities as sustainable, just, inclusive places, we must rethink the nature of transportation and public space. This event will bring together representatives from four upstate metro regions which are all in the process of grappling with their highway infrastructure and rethinking how to create better places for humans to live, work, and play in the 21st century,” said Reif Larsen, founder, Future of Small Cities Institute.

The panel, which features Ben Crowther of the Congress for New Urbanism, will discuss the need to dismantle and redesign urban highways. Patrons will also hear public officials from each of the four upstate metro regions (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany) about their journey towards urban highway transformation.

“Part of my job is helping communities look at best practices in highway to boulevard projects by looking at past examples of cities who have implemented removing highway infrastructure and exploring how cities use highway removal projects to build transportation equity or for past infrastructural harm inflicted by urban renewal and highway projects,” said Jay Arzu, speaker, Ph.D. student, UPenn, Stuart Weitzman School of Design.

The webinar aims to promote a discussion space for communities that want to rethink highway infrastructure within their urban fabric while helping them understand how past infrastructure development hurt many American inner-city neighborhoods.

“True, sustainable community transformations can only happen through open minded, truthful collaboration. It is not easy, nor is it meant to be,” said Scott Townsend, speaker, principal, 3tarchitects, an SWBR company.

The webinar also aims to present the question of how we can finally flip the script and redesign our cities’ landscapes not for the private automobile traveling at 65 MPH, but for people, greenspaces, and equity.

“Highways built to improve transportation in our urban areas in the 20th century now act as unintentional barriers to better-connected, and more livable cities,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “It’s no longer a question of if, but when, these highways will either be converted, altered, or removed to better facilitate healthier, greener, and more sustainable metro areas. The ‘Future of Urban Highways’ ties together Upstate New York’s four major metro areas and experts as we develop strategies to re-imagine our major highways and ultimately, their relationship with how we all live, play, and work.”

To view full list of speakers, follow the website link provided below. Additionally, for more information and to register for the event follow website link here.


About the Future of Small Cities Institute: The Future of Small Cities Institute cultivates resilient communities by offering just and sustainable solutions for small and mid-sized metro areas. They do this by fostering local community partnerships and a regional city network, producing cross-platform resources and publications, hosting a dynamic urbanism event series, and by building a tangible knowledgebase of best practices for small cities.

The Future of Small Cities Institute found its roots in the Troy Innovation Garage, which was the site of the Future of Small Cities 2019–2020 event series and masterclass. The community space of the Garage provided fertile ground to conceptualize the series, nurture the networks, and eventually blossom the work into this institute. Building upon this spirit of innovation, the institute provides programming and a conceptual laboratory space to grapple with this question holistically by bringing people together from a wide variety of disciplines, including community members, business owners, artists, developers, academics, city planners, architects, elected officials, activists, and scientists.

While flexible to the evolving needs of the community, the institute’s main focus is the intersection of social justice and climate change.




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