Mary Rowe, vice president of the Municipal Art Society of New York and contributor to What We See, and Kate Ascher, author of The Works and The Heights, recently organized the Jane Jacobs Revisited: A Bellagio Conference. The conference gathered twenty participants across city-building disciplines to mark the 50th anniversary of Jane Jacobs’s seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and took place at the Bellagio Center at Villa Serbellino, a center for learning and discussion operated by the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy. On the agenda was to discuss the city principles Jane Jacobs promulgated in her book and address their applicability in the global cities of today.
Michelle Young of Untapped Cities reported that "the programming included 3 minute Pecha Kuccha presentations on examples today that represented Jacobs’ principles and over four days of group discussion in different configurations of participants." Furthermore, Mary Rowe told her, “It’s a Jane Jacobs world now,” and that Jacobs “was an early identifier of complexity, a supporter of organic design and diversities of all kinds, and believed everything was relational–nothing has a single cause. She had an extreme resistance to big, universal, grand one size fits all efforts from the public or private sector and believed physical, economic and ethical processes needed to interact to create the process of the city. Today there is a growing sense of what sustainable, organic, livable cities should be but there is a need to discuss the obstacles to that occurring.”
The Bellagio Framework, as put forth by the participants of Jane Jacobs Revisited is as follows:
The purpose of the city is to provide sustainable environments that allow all people to live, work, and achieve their aspirations in an environment that supports self-determination and promotes that common good.
1. Build a city of choices, an urban archipelago that offers diversity and fosters innovation.
2. Make places that promote socioeconomic mixing, openness, and cultural exchange.
3. Actively integrate nature and the city in shared spaces that bring people joy.
4. Ensure environmental health and human security.
5. Encourage compact land use with diverse physical grain, matching density, infrastructure and local conditions.
Special thanks to filmmaker Don Downey and the perseverance of Mary Rowe and Kate Ascher for allowing this video from Jane Jacobs Revisited to be shared.