The Big Picture is our quarterly editorial series. Each edition explores a complex issue shaping cities through a curated collection of articles and op-eds. Over the last 4 years, we have used our ‘whole-city’ approach to advance solutions and drive the kind of innovative thinking that transpires when people from all levels of the urban ecosystem coalesce—from prominent thought leaders and public officials to community organizers.

Rights-Based Housing for Refugees

October 2022


Samer Saliba, Hannah Presser, Nine Oepkes, Helen Elizabeth Yu, Chuni Lu, Elizabeth McIsaac, Kirsten McRae, Jan Braat, Amy King

Whether fleeing political unrest, persecution, or forced to relocate due to climate change, migrants often struggle to find housing in the places they find refuge due to increasingly inaccessible and unaffordable housing markets. In this issue, we bring together the perspectives of various actors involved in the resettlement and integration of refugees to advance progressive policies, programs, and designs that ensure all individuals are housed safely and with dignity. 

Roadmap For Cities In 2022

December 2021


Julie Rusk, Tara Barauskas

How can we collectively make our cities more resilient, vibrant, and inclusive places to live? To wrap up the year, we asked our community to help us define the most pressing challenges for cities in 2022. Based on the findings of our end-of-year survey, we map out priorities and promising solutions for the urban community to tackle in the coming year.

Urban Farming: Growing Healthier Communities

July 2021


Lisa Helps, Paul Taylor, Peter Van Wingerden, Renzo Morosi

As our planet warms and the climate shifts, meeting demands to feed a growing population will continue to pose social and environmental challenges to cities worldwide. Our current food systems are not distributed equitably, leaving large swaths of urban areas without access to fresh local produce and nutritious options. In this issue, we explore how food forests, rooftop agriculture, and community gardens offer cross-cutting solutions to reduce food insecurity, connect communities, and nurture wellbeing in cities.

The Soundtrack to Our Cities

October 2020


Gaetan Vannay, Catherine Guastavino, Daniel Steele, Christine Kerrigan, Lisa Lavia, Daniel Goodhand, Erica Walker, Dr. Arch. Antonella Radicchi

Do you listen to your city? Whether it’s a bird chirping on a neighborhood street or a train passing through town–our auditory senses play a huge role in how we experience and navigate an urban environment. The transformation of urban spaces as a result of social-distancing measures around the world, has already dramatically changed the soundtrack of our cities. In this issue, we explore how to leverage the positive outcomes of these changes to support quality of life, smarter acoustics, and reduce noise pollution in cities..

Wellbeing and the Built Environment

September 2020


Carolyn Swope, Regina Vaicekonyte, Bing Bing Guo, Marianthi Tatari, George Athens, Nancy Kohout, Dr Melanie Davern & John Macomber

We have long known that our physical and social environment impacts our overall health—from pollution, air and water quality, to our working conditions and access to housing. As the industry met demand for environmental standards with the LEED green building standard in the late 90’s, companies ahead of the curve have continued the progress, introducing the WELL building certification, a framework to evaluate the impacts of the built environment on wellbeing. Is the future of offices, hospitality, public spaces—and even homes—wellness-SMART? How can we integrate wellbeing into policy and design processes long-term?

Amplify New Housing Solutions

August 2020


Richard Gerwitz, Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson, Annie Koo, Anthony Flint, Reed Marill, Daffney Moore, Rafi Rich & Michael C. Threatt

Population growth, mass migration, climate change, a global pandemic, and a civil rights movement have pushed cities around the world to rethink how they can provide more accessible, affordable, and safe housing. What policies and programs do cities need to ensure a better housing match for contemporary lifestyles? How can we use new approaches to create affordable housing at scale, boost mixed income neighborhoods throughout cities, and build more equitable communities?

This issue is an extension of our trademark housing event, New Housing Solutions.

Millenial Migration

June 2020


Albus Brooks, Andrew Carter, Joe Cortright, Dr. Alexa Delbosc, Alfred Degrafinreid II, Kourtny Garrett, Craig Hall, Dr. Emil Malizia, Dowell Myers, Deirdre Pfeiffer, June Williamson, Britt Zaffir, Ralph Zucke

As the Millennial generation comes of age, their preferences, which tend to diverge from those of their baby boomer parents, present cities with an opportunity to fundamentally rethink urban and suburban life. In this issue, we will explore how policymakers, developers, and more are placing bets and working feverishly to retain or attract aging Millennials and their potential to transform communities. We examine their urban preferences, and ask how cities can leverage their lifestyles to invest in more sustainable suburban regeneration and boldly reimagine what cities and suburbs could be in the future. Where will the misunderstood generation move and why?

When a Pandemic Goes Viral

March 2020


Michele Acuto, Mariela Alfonzo, Luca Ballarini, Giacomo Biraghi, Michèle Champagne, Eva Hagberg, Dan Hon, Marisa Morán Jahn, Rafi Segal, Satish Kamat, Josef Konvitz, Younous Lahboub, Federico Parolotto, Benjamin de la Peña, Katerina Ryabets, Saskia Sassen, Richard Sennett, Scott Smith, Andrew Snowhite, Gaetan Vannay & Alissa Walke

Whether you call it COVID-19, Coronavirus, or the Corona Outbreak, the unfolding pandemic has become impossible to ignore, no matter where you live. The global crisis bringing cities to a standstill is striking at the heart of public life and calling into question many of our fundamental assumptions of urban living. We are watching the pandemic’s effects on mobility, public space, community, and “social distancing” in real-time. While it is challenging to cut through people’s fears at this early stage, it is crucial to reflect on the impacts this crisis will have on urban life-as-a-we-know-it, the weaknesses of our governance, healthcare, and infrastructure systems, and the likely aftermath and what we can learn from it.

Climate Migration

January 2020


Jason Bird, Adam Hosking, James A. Moore, Virginie Alonzi, Susannah C. Drake, Peter Engelke, David Foster, Jesse M. Keenan, Josef Konvitz, Thaddeus Pawlowski, Missy Stults, Jason Thistlethwaite, Anna Ziolecki, Anna Zhuo, George P.R. Benson, Ingrid Burrington, Brendan C. Byrne & Anthony Townsend.

An inconvenient truth underlying efforts to help cities adapt to climate change is that not every risk can be mitigated, and not every floodplain can be made resilient. Governments and communities will not only need to make difficult decisions about what and where to reinforce and fortify, but also where to direct growth away from steadily increasing risks toward more naturally resilient regions.In this issue, we’ll hear from cities and regions preparing to receive an impending generation of climate migrants, and envision what new, more resilient and equitable districts on higher ground might look like.

Resilient Cities

October  2019

Cities at Night

August  2019

The Next Wave of Greenfield Cities

July  2019

Innovations in Urban Housing

June  2019

Smarter is

May  2019

Fostering Holistic Wellbeing in Cities

April  2019

Innovative Approaches to Urban Climate Action

March  2019

Women in Cities: The Future of Mobility

February  2019

Mobility as
a Service

November  2019

Recalibrating the Smart City

October 2018

Greenfield Cities

September 2018

Affordable Housing

September  2018

Ensuring Accessibility in Cities

July 2018

Secondary Cities: New Urban Champions?

July 2018

Financing Urban Infrastructure

June  2018

AI in Cities 

May 2018

Crowd Urbanism

April 2018

Cities of Wellbeing 

March  2018

The Future of Women in Cities 

February 2018