What Makes a City?

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The Trinity: Nature and Public Space

On September 23 The Dallas Institute and The Trinity Trust presented the annual What Makes a City? Conference at the Dallas City Performance Hall. The theme of this year’s event was The Trinity: Nature and Public Space and featured a keynote address from Trinity River Park Concept Designer Michael Van Valkenburgh, as well as presentations from Dr. Gail Thomas, Photographer, Writer, and Environmental Advocate Ben Sandifer, and a panel discussion about the future of the Trinity Park featuring Dallas civic leaders.

Check back for details on next year’s conference.

The What Makes a City Conference is presented in partnership with The Trinity Trust.

About What Makes a City?

Since 1982, the Dallas Institute has publicly presented this question through conferences, symposiums, seminars, and other formats. Featuring both international and local urban planners and thinkers, “What Makes a City?” focuses on issues relevant to Dallas and cities in general. A key part of every program is the opportunity for Dallas citizens to express ideas and viewpoints from “street level.”

Over the years, “What Makes a City?” has spotlighted such figures as urban activist Jane Jacobs, organizational analyst William H. “Holly” Whyte, architects Robert Venturi, Charles Moore, and Arthur Erickson, and New Urbanist Andrés Duany, as well as Dallas leaders.

“What Makes a City?” is conducted under the leadership of Dr. Gail Thomas, President of the Trinity Trust and Director of the Institute’s Center for the City.

What Makes A City? Conference History

ARCHITECTURE AND POETRY – 1982 James Lehrer, Christian Norberg-Schulz, Arthur Erickson, Bill Porterfield, Kathleen Raine, James Hillman, William H. Whyte, A.C. Greene, Bernd Jager, Louise Cowan, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

THE ECONOMICS OF TASTE – 1983 James Rouse, James Lehrer, James Hillman, William H. Whyte, Albert Murray, Louise Cowan, Donald Cowan, Lyle Novinski, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

WATER AND DREAMS – 1984 Dan Kiley, Kathleen Raine, William H. Whyte, Ivan Illich, Geoffrey Stanford, Edwin T. Morris, James Hillman, Alan Ward, Roy P. Harrover, William Burford, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

GROWTH AND UNDERGROWTH – 1985 Robert Venturi, Ivan Illich, Robert Swann, William H. Whyte, Denise Scott Brown, Vincent Scully, Wendell Berry, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

MONEY, MYTH & MANA – 1986 Jane Jacobs, Lewis H. Lapham, Wendell Berry, Curtis W. Meadows, Donald Stone, Hazel Henderson, Lewis Hyde, Charles Anderson, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

COMMUNITY, DESIGN AND DESTINY – 1987 Yi Fu-Tuan, John B. Jackson, Henry C Beck, Jr., James Pratt, Jose Gonzales, Miha Pogacnik, Beverly Mitchell, Lynn Mims, Robert Trammell, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

CRISIS AND CARNIVAL – 1988 Skitch Henderson, Etheridge Knight, Enrique Pardo, James Hillman, Mary Vernon, Sandra Hughes, Mike Hickey, Curtis King, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

VISION AND THE SPIRIT OF PLACE – 1990 Charles W. Moore, Keith Critchlow, Beverly Mitchell, James Pratt, Michael McCarthy, Mary Vernon, Jack Miller, Gail Thomas

AMERICA OF THE IMAGINATION – 1991 Mortimer Adler, Hazel Henderson, Thomas Moore, Lewis Hyde, Albert Murray, Bernd Jager, James Hillman, Robert Trammell, Bill Burford, Frederick Turner, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

THE SACRED CENTER – 1993 Jane Jacobs, Christopher Alexander, Lee Cullum, Jan Hart, Daniel Kemmis, , Barbara Cassel, Susan Mead, Kent Collins, Richard Anderson, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

BEAUTY IN BUSINESS – 1995 Arthur Erickson, Frederick Turner, Rinaldo Brutoco, Alana Probst, Betty Sue Flowers, Tom Schieffer, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

Other Courses and Conferences

THE CONVIVIALITY OF THE CITY – 1981 Jacques Barzun, Billy Porterfield, James Hillman, Thomas Moore, Robert Sardello, Gail Thomas

DALLAS SPACES – HUMAN PLACES – 1985 William H. Whyte

LOOKING FOR AN AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE – 1986 Conversations with Robert A.M. Stern and Charles Moore

LOOKING FOR THE DALLAS COMMONS – 1987 William H. Whyte, Angela Denadjeiva, Ronald Fleming, Doug Salter, Gail Thomas


LIVING IN THE INNER CITY – 1988 Max Schmidt, Larry Fonts, Dave Fox, James Pratt, Tom Lardner, Bennett Miller, Gail Thomas

MAIN STREET – DALLAS TEXAS – 1991 William H. Whyte

COMMUNITY IN UPTOWN – 1993 Robert Shaw, Hank Rossi, Neal Sleeper, Princella Hartman, Dona Gower, Dan Russ, Gail Thomas

LIVING IN THE INNER CITY – 1995 Phillip Tabb, Rick Brettell, Patricia Meadows, Cliff Booth, Graham Greene, Kathryn Hall, Brad Goldberg, Oliver Mattingly, Gail Thomas

THE ARCHITECTURE OF SOUL – 1995 Phillip Tabb, Robert Sardello, Tony Lawlor, Gail Thomas

SACRED ORDER IN DESIGN – 1996 Phillip Tabb and Robert Armond

CAN DALLAS CITY CENTER BE OUR CITY CENTER? – 1996 Michael Greenberg, Cliff Booth, Graham Greene, Mary Ellen Degnan, Susan Mead, Gail Thomas

DALLAS URBAN VILLAGE – 1997 Andres Duany, Ray Gindroz

HUMANE ARCHITECTURE – 1997 Frank Lyons (Plymouth, England), Michael Benedickt (Austin), Fred Turner, Cherryl Peterman, Bill Sechrest, Gail Thomas

DALLAS BACK FROM THE EDGE – 1998 Roberta Brandes Gratz, Janet Cobb, Stephens Holtze, Alice Murray, Robert Shaw, John Tatum, Larry Allums, Glenn Arbery, Gail Thomas

WHAT DOES THE RIVER WANT TO BE? – 2001 Ann Breen, Robert Trammell, Rebecca Dugger, Bud Melton, Gary Lacy, Karen Walz, Steve Madison, Gail Thomas

IMAGINING DALLAS: WHAT DOES THE CITY WANT TO BE? A CELEBRATION OF 20 YEARS – 2002 Antonio DiMambro, Weiming Lu, James Pratt, Willis Winters, Larry Good, Susan Mead, Dan Wood, Gail Thomas

LONGING FOR BEAUTY: A CELEBRATION OF 30 YEARS – 2011 James Hillman, Robert Sardello, Thomas Moore, Joanne Stroud, Gail Thomas

Conferences Co-Sponsored with the Trinity Trust

IMAGINING DALLAS: GARDENS FOR THE CITY; GARDENS FOR THE SOUL – 2003 Betsy Damon, Louise Cowan, Mayor Laura Miller, Raymond Nasher, Gail Thomas

IMAGINING WATER – 2004 Alex Kreiger, John Todd, Brad Goldberg, William Mark, Mary Margaret Jones, Gail Thomas

THE CHARACTER OF DALLAS – 2005 John Fregonese

DESIGNING THE TRINITY – 2007 Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, Leni Schwendinger, John Todd, Mayor Tom Leppert, Ann Breen, Enrique Norton, Larry Allums, Gail Thomas


21ST CENTURY CITY – 2010 Joel Kotkin, Rutherford Platt, Peter Harnik, Larry Beasley, Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, Larry Allums, Gail Thomas

THE MYSTERY AND MAGIC OF THE GREAT TRINITY FOREST – 2014 Gail Thomas, Larry Allums, Ben Jones More Information

WHAT MAKES A CITY: CHARACTER AND CALLING – 2014 Gail Thomas, Larry Allums, Vishaan Chakrabarti, Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, Weiming Lu

THE TRINITY: NATURE AND PUBLIC SPACE – 2016 Gail Thomas, Michael Van Valkenburgh

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