SPIRE Sponsorship: Human Cities Expo, Fall 2017

Human Cities

SPIRE was proud to support the 2017 Human Cities Expo and Human Cities Initiative, which took place on December 6, 2017 at the Stanford D.School as a day-long celebration bringing together interdisciplinary perspectives on advancing a human-centered approach to cities.

An account of the 2017 Expo, including video and photos, are below:


Cities are complex and growing exponentially, posing massive challenges for the 21st-century. The Stanford Human Cities Initiative, founded in 2015, stems from the premise that we have choices about what kind of urban future we want to see. We aim to advance a human city, defined as cities that place humanity and the well-being of communities at the heart of any urban development strategy. We are a platform that encourages cross-disciplinary approaches to tackling urban challenges so that we can build a better shared urban future. 

Our work advances this mission in three areas: Education— nurturing the next generation of global leaders; Research—stimulating intellectual thinking and urban innovation; and supporting a Network of public sector, non-profit, and private sector partners with academia to move the most promising ideas forward. We offer courses with a local and global focus, ranging from Sustainable Cities, which focuses on sustainability issues in the Bay Area, to the International Urbanization Seminar, where students study rapid urbanization in Asian cities through a cross-cultural exchange program with their university counterparts in Beijing and Hong Kong.

To spark dialogue about human-centered cities, one of our core efforts is to organize the annual Human Cities Expo that takes place at the Stanford d.school. On December 6, 2017, we organized our 2017 Human Cities Expo with the generous support of SPIRE. The theme for this year’s Expo was “Time for Hope: Finding and Forging Inspiration” and featured interactive exhibits, presentations, and keynote talks from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives to advance a human city. 

Special highlights include the following keynote speakers: Gretchen Addi, Aging2.0 designer-in-residence and previously IDEO Project Associate and Business Lead, discussed the centrality of human-centered design to create cities that are friendly for people of all ages to live, work, and play. CEO David Lu from Clarity Movement discussed how his engineering company uses Internet of Things (IoT) and air sensing technology to tackle the global air pollution crisis by creating an accurate and low-cost particulate matter sensor and empowering people with real-time information.

To explore the artistic side of human cities, architect Carol Mancke and designer Trena Noval led the Fluid Cities Workshop in which participants gathered around their Table 18 sculptural piece to imagine possibilities of a more humanly connected city. Table 18 has had previous appearances at the Tate Modern in London, and we were excited to have it come to Stanford tor the first time. The workshop posed questions of how we might develop reciprocal relationships with the land and strengthen human-to-human exchange to foster new forms of place-making that acknowledge our histories, memories, and relationships that might extend beyond the physical built environment.

Throughout the day, over 100 students from Stanford and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China contributed exhibits and gave presentations that touched upon a range of projects in Hong Kong, Beijing, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Students in the Sustainable Cities course discussed how team projects supported Bay Area sustainability projects, ranging from understanding minimum wage ordinance impacts on economic development in Mountain View to assessing housing and transportation preferences in the City of Palo to inform their Comprehensive Plan. Students in the Defining Smart Cities seminar shared their research projects on topics ranging from comparing innovations in air pollution sensing and vertical farming techniques to citizen engagement using augmented reality and wearable technology.

If you missed the Human Cities Expo in person, you can catch the highlights and videos of the talks on our Vimeo Channel: https://vimeo.com/album/4907799

The challenges of the 21st-century can seem immense and overwhelming to tackle. The Human Cities Initiative creates a community in which our strength lies in our pluralistic approaches and perspectives. We learned, in bringing people together at the Expo, that there is a great desire to collaborate and work together. By exposing students to both technological and humanistic approaches to cities, we nurture new possibilities for advancing the field of real estate, place-making, and the built environment.

We invite you to stay in touch about future events by following us on Facebook and explore how you can be involved with our education and research efforts at [email protected].

Deland Expo Expo 2
Expo 3 Expo 4 Expo 5