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Livable Cities


As a broader topic, Urban@UW has facilitated discussions and collaborations to understand and create cities that are sustainable, resilient, equitable and accessible: in a word, livable. From hosting a summer institute on the nature of cities, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to supporting symposia led by the West Coast Poverty Center and EarthLab on creating places where communities can thrive, we are continually partnering to foster new thinking and new solutions for livable urban areas. Additionally, Urban@UW has collaborated on significant, externally funded research-to-practice projects under this theme. Below are some recent examples.

Emerald Corridor Collaboratory

The Emerald Corridor Collaboratory project instantiated a regional network between four city-university partnerships in the Pacific Northwest, aimed at developing collaborative solutions for sustainable and resilient cities. This project was funded under the Bullitt Foundation’s Thought Leadership and Innovation RFP.

Read the final report: Experiences Implementing City-University Partnerships

Read a synthesis of projects funded under the Bullitt Foundation’s Thought Leadership and Innovation effort: Lessons and Levers for University Collaborations with Governmental and Community Partners

The Emerald Corridor Collaboratory, which formally collaborated for 2018-2019, is made up of the following city-university partnerships:

  • Portland, Oregon & Portland State University
  • Vancouver, British Columbia & University of British Columbia
  • Seattle, Washington & University of Washington
  • Bellingham, Washington & Western Washington University

Meaningful city-university partnerships can be effective in combating urban challenges such as sustainability, transportation, homelessness, or planning. Leveraging the strengths of institution and local government, city-university partnerships can save resources and maximize efficiency. While developing this network, the Emerald Corridor Collaboratory studied the mechanisms involved in creating and maintaining a successful network of backbone organizations (e.g. city-university partnerships). Each city-university partnership worked on pilot projects within their locale, and multiple workshops promoted network-wide knowledge sharing and collaboration. Results from this project included insights about how a regional network model can be expanded to further urban resiliency. Learn more here.

LEAP FROG to a Shared Right of Way

Urban@UW partnered with the private, public and non-profit sectors to re-imagine the right of way in Seattle. New tools and approaches were envisioned to “leapfrog” traditional uses of the right of way. The team also assessed the successes and challenges of working in a partnership across sectors, and how this model might be leveraged for other projects. In June 2019, project partners from UW, the City and the private sector selected two pilot projects from a list of candidate neighborhoods. Projects were selected based on community need and capacity. Community leaders worked directly with private sector leaders and UW faculty and students to plan, fundraise, and execute projects unique to each community’s goals. Lessons learned were synthesized for individual projects and the collective effort. This project was funded under the Bullitt Foundation’s Thought Leadership and Innovation RFP.

Livable City Year

Urban@UW was a founding partner supporting Livable City Year (LCY), an initiative designed to connect one city to faculty and courses at the University of Washington over one academic year in order to address city-identified issues of livability and sustainability. An opt-in program launched by UW faculty Branden Born (Department of Urban Design and Planning) and Jen Otten (School of Public Health), LCY provides the infrastructure and capacity to connect city needs with faculty course goals, fostering invaluable experience for students as they work within city parameters, meet with municipal agencies, and present and deliver innovative results for city use.

Urban@UW has also funded research to examine the LCY university-community partnership model.