The Rotunda as seen from the east colonnade

The Future of Cities





The city is where creativity and economy, community and culture, innovation and technology all come together to flourish. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities and growing, how can we make our cities more livable, smarter, more resilient, greener, and equitable? Cities are our largest collective cultural artifacts, and their strategic reconception is crucial to our future. Join Lifetime Learning and the UVA School of Architecture’s Dean Ila Berman and faculty members Tim Beatley, Shiqiao Li, Mona El Khafif, and Brian Davis as they discuss the future of our cities and how post-COVID, our cities will endure.

This UVA Lifetime Learning event is co-sponsored by the School of Architecture.






Ila Berman (moderator)

Dean and Edward E. Elson Professor

Ila Berman is dean of UVA’s School of Architecture and the Edward E. Elson Professor. Berman is an architect, theorist, and curator of architecture and urbanism whose research investigates the relationship between culture and the evolution of contemporary material, technological, and spatial practices. She is a featured alumna of Harvard University’s Grounded Visionaries series and the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Design, Social Sciences, and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowships and a Special Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects.

Tim Beatley

Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, Urban & Environmental Planning

Timothy Beatley is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at UVA’s School of Architecture, where he has taught for the last 25 years. Much of Beatley’s work focuses on the subject of sustainable communities and creative strategies by which cities and towns can fundamentally reduce their ecological footprints while at the same time becoming more livable and equitable places. Beatley believes that sustainable and resilient cities represent our best hope for addressing today’s environmental challenges.

Mona El Khafif

Associate Professor, Architecture and Urban & Environmental Planning; Director Urban Design Program

Mona El Khafif is an associate professor at UVA’s School of Architecture, co-author of the award-winning publication URBANbuild: Local/Global (with Ila Berman), and author of Staged Urbanism: Urban Spaces for Art, Culture and Consumption in the Age of Leisure Society (German edition). Her research operates at multiple scales, examining the interdisciplinary aspects of urban design, temporary urbanism, urban prototyping, and strategies for the smart city. At UVA, El Khafif serves as the RCN director of the recently funded NSF grant entitled “MainStreet21,” supporting a network of small and midscale cities in Virginia and co-directs the school’s initiative on Smart Environments.

Shiqiao Li

Weedon Professor in Asian Architecture, Architecture & Architectural History; Director of the PhD in the Constructed Environment Program

Shiqia Li is the Weedon Professor in Asian Architecture, Architecture & Architectural History, and director of the PhD in the Constructed Environment Program. His contribution to urban and architectural theory makes evident the operations of culturally and intellectually constructed values instrumental to the production of cities and architecture. Li’s research enlarges thinking spaces within which more sensible and effective actions in the constructed environment can be formulated. He seeks pathways of intellectual understanding and response in architecture that aim to restore our pervasively technologized and ecologically strained world to its fertile functions.

Brian Davis

Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture

Brian Davis is an associate professor in the Landscape Architecture department. His work focuses on ports, rivers, and cities, and especially their formal interrelations through time. This interest in landscape form is anchored by the realization that it can be both indicative of past processes and values and future performance. In his work, the landscape is understood as both a foundation for and an active part of a democratic society.


Registration is free and open to all.

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Program Host: UVA Lifetime Learning

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