On July 27, the Forum hosted Bjarke Ingels (BIG) and Craig Dykers (Snøhetta) to discuss new visions for the practice of urban design, with Monica Ponce de Leon (Taubman College) moderating the conversation. In their recent work, both architects demonstrated a dedication to working with constituents to shape the form of new public spaces. Mr. Dykers presented a university in The Gambia with building forms closely modeled on the form of the nearby villages and a master plan for Guatemala filled with benches completed by local artisans. Mr. Ingels discussed a new social housing project with seating and signs from over sixty nations, representing the same number of nationalities living in the area.

Although the architects may have had similar aspirations to reform public participation in the design process, their greatest deviation was the scale of their ambitions. Mr. Dykers opined that “the best laid plans never get made,” referring to a successful Oslo project where the master plan was atypically designed around an architectural object. Yet Mr. Ingels dared to dream as he presented an extensive scheme to link Swedish and Danish towns using high-speed rail.