Daniel Burnham Forum on Big Ideas

2020 Forum

Confronting the Housing Crisis

September 24, 2020

This year's Burnham Forum will feature housing experts who have researched and documented the nature of the housing crisis, how it affects communities and families, and the response of policymakers and residents. These experts from the worlds of journalism, social science, and communications will provide an in-depth discussion of how we talk about housing, how we engage communities, and how we begin shifting housing policies and plans.

How the Burnham Forum Came to Be

In 2012, the Emerging Trends/Future of Planning Task Force assembled to address emerging trends in the field and the future of planning. Its charge:

  • Identify top issues impacting America's communities now through the next 10 to 20 years
  • Note how planning is changing and also needs to change
  • Recommend how APA and its members can be most effective in meeting the challenges of the future
  • Solicit members, in partnership with APA staff, through in-person and online forums, to submit their "big ideas" through digital papers, illustrations, or videos
  • Review and categorize big ideas
  • Present findings

The work of the task force comes to life in the annual Daniel Burnham Forum on Big Ideas.

Previous Events

Equitable Redevelopment and Inclusive Growth in Legacy Cities

A moderated discussion of leading local and federal policy makers will cover legacy cities' experimentation with innovative policies aimed at moving from managing decline to advancing housing, transportation, workforce, and community development policies that create new opportunities for building stronger, more sustainable communities.

Land Value Capture for Infrastructure Finance

An expert panel provided an overview of land value capture as a tool for infrastructure finance by municipalities in the U.S. Examples of projects where value capture tools have been used successfully and emerging policies were highlighted.

Smart Cities, Federal Data, and Civic Innovation

At the 2017 Daniel Burnham Forum, keynote speaker John Thompson, former U.S. Census Bureau director, discussed present-day risks to federal data, examined how lawmaker decisions are affecting federal data sources, and explored whether the 2020 Census is in jeopardy.

Prosperity Playbook: Strategies for Inclusive Growth

At the 2016 Daniel Burnham Forum on Big Ideas, speakers challenged audience members to consider how expanding affordable housing and economic opportunity through planning leads to greater opportunity for all.

Pursuing Inclusive Growth: Placed-based Strategies for Economic Growth, Social Mobility and Housing Affordability

September 27, 2015

The American Planning Association's Burnham Forum series examines the trends, challenges, and opportunities that will shape America's communities over the next half century.

The nation has been rocked by violence in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore. While many communities are experiencing rapid growth, concerns about social equity are also on the rise. How can good planning not only support economic prosperity but also address inequality and economic mobility?

Journalist and Wonkblog writer Emily Badger moderates a discussion with a panel of experts to talk about how we can achieve a vision of inclusive growth for the nation’s cities and communities.

Renée Lewis Glover

Renée Lewis Glover

Renée Lewis Glover is nationally recognized for her role in transforming U.S. urban policy. For nearly two decades she headed the Atlanta Housing Authority. Now she chairs the Habitat for Humanity International Board of Directors and sits on the National Advisory Board of the new J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for America's Families. Earlier this year the Penn Institute for Urban Research gave her its Urban Leadership Award for her work in guiding cities toward a vibrant future.

Paul Jargowsky

Paul Jargowsky

Paul Jargowsky, Professor of Public Policy, Rutgers University, is known for his work on inequality, segregation, economic mobility, and the geography of poverty. His book Poverty and Place won critical praise, and his new report on The Architecture of Segregation has sparked strong interest in the media. In addition to his role at Rutgers, he is a senior research affiliate at the University of Michigan's National Poverty Center. He also consults with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on issues such as suburban poverty.


Shelley Poticha

Shelley Poticha directs Natural Resources Defense Council's Urban Solutions program, working for better cities that support thriving people. Her past initiatives at NDRC include Smart Growth America. Before joining NRDC, she was a senior advisor at HUD and headed Reconnecting America, where she emerged as a national leader in land-use reform and equitable transit-oriented development. Earlier, she served as executive director of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Emily Badger

Emily Badger

Emily Badger covers urban policy for the Washington Post's Wonkblog. She frequently writes about urban planning, housing, transportation, poverty, and inequality. Also on her radar: how technology will change the way we move around cities and what urban design means for economic mobility. Before coming to the Post, she was at The Atlantic Cities. A Chicago native, she has lived in Portland, Cleveland, Orlando, Tallahassee, Paris, Norfolk, and Atlanta.

Private Capital, Public Good

September 28, 2014

Today's fiscal and political realities make private and philanthropic investments ever more important to building communities. New tools like social impact bonds are rapidly moving from concept to reality. In Washington, Congress is debating how to leverage private and nonprofit involvement in infrastructure and housing. The latest Burnham Forum will zero in on these issues from the perspectives of the investors and communities working with new partners.

John K.  Delaney (D-Md.)

John K. Delaney

Congressman John K. Delaney (D-Md.) is a leading champion on Capitol Hill for finding innovative, bipartisan solutions to infrastructure investment challenges. He has introduced legislation that would create a new American Infrastructure Fund for transportation, water, energy, communications, and education projects. The measure has attracted support on both sides of the aisle. A member of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Delaney also has become a key voice on housing issues. Rep. Delaney was elected in 2012 from Maryland's Sixth District. He is the only former CEO of a publicly traded company serving in the House of Representatives. In 2011, he founded Blueprint Maryland, a nonprofit dedicated to charting a way toward a high-tech, high-information economy. His stated focus in office is to restore the nation's economic competitiveness.

Planning Our Future

September 29, 2013

APA President William Anderson, FAICP, lead the discussion. He was joined by Patrick L. Phillips, chief executive officer of the Urban Land Institute; Nancy C. Somerville, executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects; and Lee Brown, FAICP, president of APA's professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners. APA CEO W. Paul Farmer, FAICP, moderated the discussion.

William Anderson, FAICP

William Anderson, FAICP

William Anderson, FAICP, is President of the American Planning Association. As a partner with AECOM, Anderson has worked in 20 states and eight countries. His practice integrates development economics and planning, focusing on inner cities, community planning, and regional planning. Between 2006 and 2011, Anderson served as director of San Diego's City Planning & Community Investment Department. Earlier, he headed up San Diego's oldest planning advocacy group and chaired the city's Planning Commission. He was inducted into the AICP College of Fellows in 2006.

Lee Brown, FAICP

Lee Brown, FAICP

Lee Brown, FAICP, is president of APA's professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners. During his three decades of experience, he has worked with municipalities in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Currently, he is president of Teska Associates, a consulting firm that provides urban planning and landscape architecture services throughout the Midwest. He was inducted into the AICP College of Fellows in 2006.

Patrick L. Philips

Patrick L. Philips

Patrick L. Philips is CEO of the Urban Land Institute. Before stepping into ULI's leadership role, he was president and CEO of ERA AECOM, where his consulting practice focused on the intersection of private investment and public policy. In 2005, he led a nationally prominent economic development team as part of a ULI panel making recommendations on post-Katrina rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. He teaches at Harvard's Graduate School of Design Executive Education Program and at the Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School.

Nancy C. Somerville

Nancy C. Somerville

Nancy C. Somerville is the executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Since joining the society in 2000, she has made it a more effective advocate for sustainability, community planning, transportation, and land use issues. Somerville came to ASLA following 18 years with the American Institute of Architects. She is a member of Lambda Alpha International, the honorary land-economics fraternity, and received the Civic Award of Excellence from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

Paul Farmer, FAICP

Paul Farmer, FAICP

Paul Farmer, FAICP, is chief executive officer of APA and AICP. He has primary responsibility for the long-term strategic direction of the association, in concert with elected leadership. He is responsible for representing the leadership of the association, its members and the interests of planning with partners and with the public. He is the prime spokesperson for APA and president of the Planning Foundation. He was inducted into the AICP College of Fellows in 2006.

Finding Your Fiscal Footing in the New Normal

February 7, 2013

Are America's communities planned for prosperity or designed for debt? Is local economic development focused on short-term returns or long-range gains? Is Main Street's economy turning the corner — and is your community heading in the right direction?

The American Planning Association's Daniel Burnham Forum on Big Ideas tooks on these issues with two of the leading minds in community planning and economic development. Together they shared lessons from the past and visions for the future.

This event was presented in partnership with the City of Raleigh and Raleigh Economic Development

Emil Malizia

Emil Malizia's presentation (pdf)

Charles Marohn

Charles Marohn's presentation (pdf)

Emil Malizia, FAICP

Emil Malizia, FAICP

Emil Malizia, FAICP, directs the Institute for Economic Development at the University of North Carolina. He has written or coauthored books including Understanding Local Economic Development and more than 150 other publications. In addition to his academic work, Professor Malizia has served as a consultant to private developers as well as nonprofit development and public agencies.

Charles Marohn, AICP

Charles Marohn Jr., AICP

Charles Marohn Jr., AICP, is president of Strong Towns, a nonprofit dedicated to helping America's towns achieve financial strength and resiliency. He is the author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns, vol. 1, the primary author of the Strong Towns blog, and the host of the Strong Towns podcast.

Planning in the Fourth Dimension

Broadband as a public good. Online participation as stakeholder engagement. Physical anchors of the community as network anchors. Planners planning beyond the concrete. Big ideas made a big impression at the April 2013 Burnham Forum on Big Ideas.

Conceived by Anna Ricklin, Manager of the APA's Planning and Community Health Research Center, cofounder of Texican Michelle Lee and senior field analyst at the Open Technology Institute Greta Byrum shared their work and thoughts on community building through information technology.

Lee asked how the digital community helps to form neighborhoods larger than our daily walksheds. Online resources and networks connect us to information about our offices, schools, gyms, bars, or other places we frequent but wouldn't traditionally identify as our neighborhood. Socially, we interact with people online we may never have elsewhere, or would have lost touch with long ago. While critics of these phenomena argue that online encounters limit the sincerity of relationships, most accept the associated opportunities for resource sharing and community activism.

Digital inputs can build something tangible. Lee pointed to the planning for New York City's bikeshare program as an example. In addition to public meetings and charrettes — the traditional methods of stakeholder engagement — an online "suggestion box" of sorts reached a much broader audience. Visitors dropped pins on the "Suggest-a-Station" map; these locations were then endorsed and discussed on the site. Over 10,000 suggestions and over 55,000 endorsements contributed significantly to the program's site selection. Michelle attributed the success of this system to both the immediate visibility of the sites, and the convenience of online response.

NYC Bike Share: Designed by New Yorkers

The negative externalities associated with lack of access to broadband are obvious, and it is unfortunately unsurprising that lower income residents who cannot afford individual subscriptions suffer. Greta illustrated this point through an Open Technology Institute project in San Francisco, identifying the overlaps of low broadband home subscriptions with public housing:

Enter community-driven wireless networks. In some places, they already exist at the citywide level, such as Berlin's open wireless radio network Freifunk. At the neighborhood scale, the physical pillars of the community serve as nodes (housing wireless routers) which share bandwidth, and with this increased bandwidth, increase internet access to the surrounding community. Churches and schools are often eager to share, and see this sharing as an extension of their missions:

Red Hook Initiative WiFi, in Brooklyn, New York functions solely as a local area network (an intranet). The system stores information on a server locally, and circulates it just within its surrounding geographic area. It recently garnered attention after Superstorm Sandy, when commercial networks failed, but Red Hook users were able to text in their needs to the local system.

These projects ask us: how has communication informed the perception of the public good? Depending on how it is distributed, broadband is already functioning as a public good. Certain information and data are too. New points of access, and new ways to connect and share continually shape our lives, and are accompanied by increasing privacy concerns. Particularly as local governments use digital means to engage the public, security is essential. When we expand our definition of public goods, conflicts inevitably pop up.

With broadband as a potential public good, what's next? Or, as we advance as a society, perhaps the more appropriate question is: What isn't a public good?

International Trends, Domestic Impacts

September 30, 2012

"Take your head out of the sand — global conditions do affect the U.S."

As U.S. planners confront the key issues outlined by the presidents of AIA, ASLA, and APA, in the inaugural lecture, they will find that international trends affect the domestic scene in tangible ways. The global economy as shaped by demographic shifts and resulting changes in settlement patterns, energy consumption, and food security, is transforming the world of today and tomorrow and tracks directly into our cities and regions. This phenomenon will be reflected in how we think about sustainability and resilience in our own metropolitan areas and presses upon us an urgent need to frame our current work responsively.

Eugenie Birch, FAICP

Eugenie L. Birch, FAICP

Eugenie L. Birch, FAICP, is the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research and Education, and Chair of the Graduate Group in City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Next 50: Planning, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture

July 12, 2012

How will the emerging trends in America over the next 50 years impact the planning, architecture, and landscape architecture professions? How will the design professions guide America's communities? The presidents of the American Planning Association, the American Institute of Architects, and the American Society of Landscape Architects share their perspectives on the next generation of changes within their professions.

  • Mitchell J. Silver, AICP

    Mitchell J. Silver, AICP

    Mitchell J. Silver, AICP, President, American Planning Association.
  • Jeffery Potter, FAIA

    Jeffery Potter, FAIA

    Jeffery Potter, FAIA, American Institute of Architects.
  • Susan M. Hatchell, FASLA

    Susan M. Hatchell, FASLA

    Susan M. Hatchell, FASLA, American Society of Landscape Architects.