In the early 2000s, as I began my career writing about architecture, cities in the US were feeling the “Bilbao effect.” Every city wanted to copy the success of Bilbao, Spain, which was suddenly on the global map because of a new Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum. Cities from Cincinnati to Milwaukee hired “starchitects” like Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava to design beautiful museums, hoping to attract tourists and economic development.

Turned out that approach didn’t quite work (and Bilbao had done a lot to reinvigorate its economy beyond build a museum). For better or worse, these days cities are rarely using museums as the launchpads for urban reinvestment. In many cases, they’re smarter about how to deploy art and design in service of economic activity.

Next week, we’ll host an important conversation about the role of art and design in Philadelphia’s real estate and development sector. Our event, featuring a stellar panel of speakers — Vishaan Chakrabarti of PAU, Sven Schroeter of KSS Architects, Rachel Zimmerman of InLiquid, and Lindsey Scannapieco of scout — will discuss what that new intersection of art, design and development looks like. It may look more like the Bok Building, with its hundreds of makers, or Schuylkill Yards, with its mix of work and play.

It’s clear that many cities will need to find new ways to address residents, needs, and that art and design remain some of the sharpest tools at our disposal. Join us for this event as we invite you to share your perspective as well.


Diana Lind
Executive Director
Arts + Business Council

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