Shifting perspectives and creating innovative ideas surrounding places were the key points delivered by Vice-President of Project for Public Spaces in New York Ethan Kent at the Sydney Ideas event held at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 4 December.

The public lecture looked at placemaking as a catalyst for building healthy, sustainable and economically viable cities for the future.

Kent’s lecture introduced the idea that transformative approaches help people create and sustain public spaces that can build stronger communities. However, the process of creating places that can produce dynamic and vibrant cities requires consideration of economic development, environmentalism, transportation planning, governance, and design. These are key focus points for NSW cities and Kent reinforced the need for strategic design and development across all levels, from the fine-grain to the precinct-wide.

Kent is an authority in the practice of placemaking, and has worked to support placemaking projects and organizations around the world through his work for Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a non-profit planning, design and educational organization. Ethan was able to share lessons from his broad spectrum of placemaking efforts, where he has provided comprehensive public engagement, planning and visioning for many important public spaces including Portland Oregon’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, Times Square in New York and Sub Centro Las Condes in Santiago, Chile.

Kent was in Sydney as a guest of the newly launched Future Cities Collaborative, a United States Studies Centre initiative focused on promoting sustainable urban development by supporting city leaders with leadership and strategic management tools. The program aims to create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information and develop skills and knowledge in building sustainable cities.