URI Providence concludes urbanism series with discussions of future city planning, route 195 relocation

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – April 8, 2013 – The Feinstein Providence campus of the University of Rhode Island will conclude its yearlong series of urbanism programs with two panel discussions this spring examining the future of cities and the relocation of Route 195 in Providence.

The events take place in Paff Auditorium at the URI Providence campus, 80 Washington St., Providence, and are free and open to the public. They are part of a public education project entitled “21st Century Urbanism: Integrating People, Infrastructure, Jobs and Environment,” funded in part by a community block grant from the state of Rhode Island.

On April 22 at 7 p.m., four urban theorists and practitioners will share their visions for how cities can be planned to celebrate diversity and culture while weaving together the interrelated needs of art, education, health and housing into a seamless experience. The program will be moderated by Marc Levitt, host and co-executive producer of the WGBH radio program Action Speaks.

Panelists for the discussion will be Kaid Benfield, director of sustainable communities for the Natural Resources Defense Council and author of People Habitat: 30 Ways to Think about Healthier, Greener Cities; Laura Briggs, visiting professor at the Rhode Island School of Design and chair of the Sustainable Architecture Research program at the New School for Design in New York City; Ruben Fores-Marzan, director of planning and development for the City of Providence who previously served as planning director for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and Janet Zweig, a public artist often working in the field of “placemaking” who teaches at RISD and Brown University.

The final program in the series, a forum entitled “Where 195 Used To Be: A Community Exploration,” begins at 7 p.m. on May 14. It will feature a discussion of ideas about the future of Providence with members of the Route 195 Redevelopment Commission and planning professionals.

Participants in the forum will be Umberto Crenca, co-founder and artistic director of AS220; Marshall Feldman, director of research and academic affairs at the URI Center for Urban Studies and Research; Colin Kane, chairman of the Route 195 Redevelopment Commission; Michael McCormick, assistant vice president for planning, design and construction at Brown University; Bonnie Nickerson, director of long-range planning for the City of Providence; and Michael Van Leesten, president of The Van Leesten Group.

A special pre-forum presentation entitled “Entrepreneurial Universities and Urban Economic Development: Hype or Hope?” will begin at 4 p.m. The speaker will be Marc Levine, professor of history, economic development and urban studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and director of the UWM Consortium for Economic Opportunity.

For more information about these events, contact program coordinators Kat Quina at 401-277-5468 or kquina@mail.uri.edu or Paul Florin at 401-277-5302 or pflorin@mail.uri.edu.