What great cities need

“Good cities need infrastructure, efficiency, and economic activity, and smart cities give equally strong attention to arts and culture, social compassion, and sustainability. But great cities need more than that. They need beauty.

“They need to inspire creativity, energy and affection for the place we live in, through that beauty. They need buildings, streets and places that move us, that inspire us to be more creative and civil. They need beauty that makes us fall in love with where we live. As is true with anything we love, we’ll be unable to watch our city being treated badly.

“Does beauty mean things have to be more expensive? Not necessarily, if we’re clever (besides, it’s amazing how expensive ugly can be). Does beauty pay dividends for a smart city? Of course. The economic spinoffs in private sector re-investment and the resulting municipal tax generation are proven, and in fact beauty has a better track-record of return on investment than ugly does.

“It’s good for business, for quality of life, and for attraction of creative industries and people. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Absolutely, but so what? Even the discussion of what is beautiful … is worthwhile. People may not agree, and that’s the beauty of it. But we’ll be having a great conversation.”

— Brent Toderian, Toderian UrbanWORKS