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Research brief on Beauty and Thriving Cities

As Project Lead to develop a research Brief on Beauty as an endowment of thriving cities, I was the editor and contributing writer coordinating a team with expertise in architectural history, philosophy and urban planning. Our Brief led to an invitation to the Ford Foundation and a later publication with Routledge.

Download Brief here

Beauty would seem to be a key indicator of a city’s thriving. Yet it is not only difficult to define and measure, but also stands in need of some defense. Beyond the aesthetic delight we take in a well-designed city and its amenities, beauty’s larger significance may be indicated by pointing to what results in its absence. As evident in slums or other forms of urban blight, human flourishing is intimately bound up with the built environment and the possibilities it affords. Yet when “The Beautiful” is arranged against other Endowments, especially those that seem to more directly address fundamental aspects of thriving—education, justice, prosperity, and the like—its significance recedes from view. It is our purpose in this brief to reclaim and affirm beauty’s foundational role as an Endowment of the city.