A Critical Intersection of AI,
Urbanism, and Climate Change

11. 16. 23 — 11. 17. 23



 11. 16. 23 



Registration Opens
Media Lab 1st Floor Lobby


Opening Remarks 

Sarah Williams
Director, Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU)

Hashim Sarkis
Dean, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT

Visioning the Future

Urbanism constitutes one of the most complex societal challenges of today’s world. MIT's Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) is motivated by the radical changes in our urbanizing environment, and focuses on the design and planning of large-scale, complex, metropolitan environments. LCAU’s founders created a model of interdisciplinary research that crossed boundaries needed to generate radical ideas on Urbanism today and in the future – learn how they created that vision.

Adèle Naudé Santos
Professor and Former Dean,
School of Architecture and Planning, MIT

Alan Leventhal
United States Ambassador to Denmark
Comments from the Leventhal Family, from Alexander Leventhal 

Advancing Urbanism

Over the last ten years, the LCAU has centered its research agenda on Infrastructure, Suburbs, Housing, Equitable Resilience, and Digital Urbanism. These foci have advanced urbanism, adopted by practice and research influenced places worldwide. Learn how the LCAU model of civic debate, design research, and innovation catalyzes urbanists to innovate today and in the future.

Catalyzing Innovation

The Norman B. Leventhal City Prize is a new interdisciplinary prize aimed at catalyzing innovative urban design and planning approaches worldwide to improve the environment and quality of life. It was established in honor of Norman B. Leventhal, the visionary developer and philanthropist whose contributions transformed Boston's urban landscape.

The inaugural winner, Malden Works, will discuss the transformation of the city's Department of Public Works (DPW) site on the Malden River into a civic waterfront space recently awarded 2.9 million from the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Drawing Together, the City Prize winner in 2022, will discuss the impact they have already made in just the last year. The winning team represents a collaboration between MIT faculty, researchers, and students and Green City Force (GCF), a nonprofit organization in New York City that trains young people for careers with a sustainability focus while they serve local public housing communities.

Marie Adams
Kathleen Mead Vandiver
Marcia Manong 
Alan Berger 

Carlos Sandoval Olascoaga
Nicholas de Monchaux
Tonya Gayle

Decarbonizing Costa Rica

Costa Rica, grounded in a legacy of peace, education, and environmental responsibility, has fearlessly led the way in decarbonization, achieving substantial economic and environmental progress despite initial skepticism. It is our distinct privilege to welcome former Costa Rican President (2018-2022), Carlos Alvarado-Quesada, who will share profound insights into this transformative journey. His talk will navigate the intricate challenges faced by the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean at this pivotal juncture in working towards decarbonizing our cities, underscoring the critical necessity of a just energy transition and diversified economies amidst a backdrop of polarized politics and rapidly evolving policy landscapes. Join us for an exploration of sustainability, political dynamics, and multifaceted regional considerations around Climate Change.

Carlos Alvarado Quesada
Former President of Costa Rica
in conversation with Chris Zegras


Cocktail Reception
Media Lab 6th Floor Wintergarden


 11. 17. 23 

Breakfast and Registration

Registration Continues: Media Lab 1st Floor Lobby

Breakfast: Media Lab 6th Floor Wintergarden

Regenerate Urbanism

Sarah Williams
Director, Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU)

Mark P Gorenberg
Chair, MIT Corporation

Urbanizing Artificial Intelligence: Humans in the Loop

Panel 1
Openly available generative AI and algorithmic models have increased exponentially in the last decade, and these tools have already become embedded in our daily lives. City governments, urban designers, and planners are increasingly grappling with how to use them to design resilient urban futures. This panel will critically explore artificial intelligence in the design of urban environments. We seek to understand the next frontier for AI in urbanism, and the agency of humans in these new generative futures. We seek to understand how human intelligence interfaces with artificial intelligence. Can urban designers create a dialogue with technology that allows for innovation in the urban environment? How can we ensure that this dialogue incorporates diverse ways of understanding and interacting with our environment? How do we teach the next generation of designers to work with new forms of technology? 

Global Climate Realities

Panel 2
The cause and effect of our climate crisis are not felt equally globally, with some countries already suffering severe impacts from climate change. In contrast, others continue to ignore the impending realities. This panel delves into the experiences of countries already grappling with severe consequences due to climate change. It explores their technological adaptations, innovative urban design solutions, and challenges in creating sustainable urban futures amid shifting environments and populations. 



Media Lab 6th Floor Wintergarden

Climate Infrastructure: Energy, Energy, Energy

Panel 3
Transforming our energy systems is one of the greatest challenges cities face as we strive for a net zero future. Nearly a quarter of human-generated GHG emissions each year come from our energy systems. To mitigate these emissions the design of energy systems must be addressed. This means redesigning the electric grid, transportation, industry and building and land use related emissions. This panel will examine how artificial intelligence and technology more broadly can be deployed in the design and planning of urban energy transformations. What are the biggest challenges for decarbonization of infrastructure and energy systems? How does the United States Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Bill provide assistance for cities seeking to transform their energy infrastructure. What are the urban design opportunities created through the transformation of our energy grid?

Just Climate Futures

Panel 4
Climate Change AI, Sustainable AI, and Environmental Justice AI are all terms used to describe how artificial intelligence can be applied to analyze, predict, and model issues revolving around climate change. However, each of these terms has its own weakness. For example, how can we use AI to address sustainability when AI systems use exponential amounts of energy resources and are inherently unsustainable? How can we apply AI towards environmental justice when we often do not know the biases inherent in the data used to train these systems? In this panel, we seek to understand what forms of knowledge are missing for AI systems that could help or hinder the development of technology toward creating a Just Climate Future. We seek to understand the ways in which our models can include different forms of knowledge? How can we understand the ways in which these technologies can help to create more environmentally just cities?

Planet City and the Return of Global Wilderness


Following centuries of colonization, globalization and never-ending economic extraction we have remade the world from the scale of the cell to the tectonic plate. In the storytelling performance ‘Planet City and the Return of Global Wilderness’ we go on a science fiction safari through an imaginary city for the entire population of the earth, where 10 billion people surrender the rest of the world to a global scaled wilderness and the return of stolen lands. Set against the consistent failure of nation states to act in any meaningful way against climate change, Planet City emerges from a global citizen consensus, a voluntary and multi-generational retreat from our vast network of cities and entangled supply chains into one hyper-dense metropolis.

Liam Young
Film Director and Architect
in conversation with Nicholas de Monchaux


Cocktail Reception
Media Lab 6th Floor Wintergarden

©LCAU 2023
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