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International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) was founded in 1985 by the late Dr. Henry L. Lennard, a Viennese medical sociologist, and the late Dr Suzanne C. Lennard, an English architectural scholar. The Lennards were passionate about sharing the best evidence-based lessons of great cities and towns to improve the quality of life for all. To do it, they brought together many of the world’s most innovative and successful mayors, planners, economic development specialists, designers, developers, NGO officials, and researchers and scholars. 

The mission of the IMCL has always been to raise awareness, through conferences and publications, of the effects of urban planning on livability, health and social well-being. Conferences have been held annually in the United States and Europe. They are unique in enabling city officials, architects, planners, developers, community leaders, behavioral and public health scientists, artists and others responsible for the livability of their cities to exchange experiences, ideas and expertise. The varied perspectives provide deeper understanding of the issues and generate creative solutions.

Following the passing of Suzanne Lennard in September 2019, we, the IMCL Board of Stewards, are honored to continue this tradition through the Suzanne C. and Henry L. Lennard Institute for Livable Cities, a public benefit corporation with charitable status under US 501(c)(3) rules. We are grateful to Mayor Jim Brainard, a leading member of the Board of Stewards, for his support in developing institutional resources for the continued mission of the Lennard Institute and the IMCL conference series. Dr. Michael Mehaffy, also a long-time member of the Board of Stewards and collaborator with Suzanne Lennard, serves as Executive Director. 

The IMCL series will continue in its mission to bring together leading mayors like Sven von Ungern-Sternberg of Freiburg, Germany, Joe Riley of Charleston USA, and George Ferguson of Bristol UK and the Royal Institute of British Architects… acclaimed planners and designers like Jan Gehl of Copenhagen, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk of Miami, and Patrick Condon of Vancouver…  world-renowned researchers like Dr. Richard J. Jackson of UCLA, Ellen Dunham-Jones of Georgia Tech, and Christopher Leinberger of George Washington University… global urban policy leaders like Laura Petrella of UN-Habitat… and many more.

Each IMCL gathering has focused on a host city offering important and timely lessons in livable and sustainable urban development. Past hosts have included Freiburg, Germany; Charleston, USA; Bristol, UK; Venice, Italy; Portland (OR) USA; and San Francisco, USA. Importantly, the IMCL conferences cover not just big cities but also small towns and suburbs, since such a large percentage of the world’s inhabitants live in these areas, and many of the world’s social, economic and environmental challenges occur there too.

In 1985, when these conferences began, there was no discussion at other planning or architectural conferences about making our cities more “livable”. Only the IMCL Conferences focused attention on the importance of making cities livable for children first, the need for public transit, bicycle lanes, and traffic calmed streets, for human scale architecture and mixed use urban fabric, for reviving the city center and creating public places where people could gather for farmers markets, festivals, outdoor cafes and community social life.

By bringing together people of vision from all disciplines at the past IMCL Conferences, by presenting the best examples from Europe and North America, and by honoring cities and civic leaders for their achievements, we rejoice in the fact that these are now common goals for cities all across North America and Australia, as well as in Europe, and goals increasingly shared through growing collaboration with other places in the world as well.

You can learn more about the IMCL history by visiting the IMCL archives at


IMCL Board of Stewards Alphabetical

Our Board of Stewards, many of whom speak at our conferences, from top left: Allam, Zaheer, urban strategist, Visio Architecture Ltd, Mauritius; Brainard, James, Mayor of Carmel, IN, USA; Burrell, John, Architect, UK; Condon, Patrick, Professor of Urban Design, University of British Columbia; Dunham-Jones, Ellen, Professor, Georgia Tech, USA; Ferguson, George, architect, past president, RIBA and former Mayor, Bristol, UK.; Fernández Gómez, Ricardo Arturo, Director of Development, State of Jalisco, Mexico; Jackson, Richard, M.D., M.P.H., Professor Emeritus of Public Health, UCLA, USA; Low, Setha, Professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA; Lykoudis, Michael, Professor, former Dean, University of Notre Dame, USA; Mahdjoubi, Lamine, Dip. Arch, M.Phil, PhD, Professor of the Built Environment, at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.; Mazzola, Ettore, Professor, University of Notre Dame, USA; Miguelez, Alain, Manager of Policy Planning, City of Ottawa, Canada; Nguyen, Ngoc, Professor, University of Da Nang, Vietnam; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark, Ph.D., Research Professor, IS Global Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain; Petrella, Laura, Head of Planning, Finance and Economy, Urban Practices Branch, UN-Habitat, Kenya; Phillips, Rick, architect, San Francisco, USA; Plater-Zyberk, Elizabeth, architect, DPZ CoDesign, Professor, University of Miami, USA; Roji, Ayanda, General Manager, Research, Policy and Knowledge Management, City of Johannesburg, South Africa; Stafford, Philip, Ph.D., Co-Design Director, Commons Planning, Inc. and former Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University; Talen, Emily, Ph.D., Professor, University of Chicago, USA; von Ungern-Sternberg, Sven, Governor of State of Süd-Baden, and former Mayor of Freiburg, Germany.


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Michael W. Mehaffy, Ph.D. (left) is Executive Director, and an educator, researcher, author, planner and designer, who has held appointments in architecture, planning and philosophy at seven graduate institutions in six countries. He has also consulted to governments, businesses and NGOs, most recently to UN-Habitat in its development of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. He holds a Ph.D. in architecture and urban design from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands.


Peter Elmlund (center left), is a Director of the IMCL, and also Director of Urban/City Research for the Ax:son Johnson Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. In that capacity he has directed numerous research projects on public space, urbanization, and city life, and organized many conferences in Europe and the Americas. He is also a Guest Researcher in Residence at the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. 

Tigran Haas, Ph.D. (center right), is a Director of the IMCL, and also Associate Professor of Urban Planning + Design and Sustainable Urbanism at the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He is currently the Director of the Centre for the Future of Places at KTH. Among his noted works are New Urbanism & Beyond — Designing Cities for the Future, Rizzoli, New York (2008) and Sustainable Urbanism & Beyond — Rethinking Cities for the Future, New York (2012) Rizzoli (editor).

Leslie Barrett (right) is the Manager for the IMCL. She is an educator, designer and manager who did her undergraduate study in psychology and neuroscience, and graduate study in education. She has experience in office management for medical, hospitality, and planning and design consulting.  As well as the IMCL, she manages her own company, JELA West Design, from her home office in The Dalles, Oregon. 

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