Studying New Urbanism in Seattle

Next week I will attend the 25th annual Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) in Seattle, Washington. Throughout the event I will share my thoughts and reactions on this website and twitter. The more I learn about CNU, the more I realize that it is a different sort of event altogether from the “traditional” professional convention.

First – unlike other groups that tend toward homogeneity, CNU attracts a relatively broad range of disciplines to its annual meeting including architects, planners, developers, and advocates.

Second – the event does not indulge in the trade show exhibition floor I’ve seen at other professional gatherings of this scale.

Third – events at CNU are scheduled at several locations around Seattle including the Seattle Art Museum, Benaroya Hall, and Moore Theater. By dispersing the venues across a few city blocks, congress attendees get the chance to experience the city more intimately. Walking a few hundred feet outdoors provides a first-hand demonstration on how the urban environment is working (or not working).

Finally –  unlike many conventions that treat their hosts as a pretty background for their panelists, CNU seeks to become a catalyst for change in its host city. Several “City as a Platform” sessions are scheduled to connect congress attendees and speakers with local challenges in the Seattle area.