The International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) was founded in 1985 by the late Dr. Henry L. Lennard, a renowned Viennese medical sociologist, and the late Dr Suzanne C. Lennard, a prominent English architectural scholar. The Lennards were passionate about sharing the best evidence-based lessons of great cities and towns to improve 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 Advisors, are honored to continue this tradition with 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 member of the Board of Advisors, 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 Advisors 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, or even at the League of Cities 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.
Please visit the IMCL archives at livablecities.org!