Why Planning Matters

The centennial of the RPA – the Regional Plan Association – was celebrated last October with a stunning exhibition in Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall and recognized in a session at the national conference of the Society of City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH). On January 31st at 6pm, The Skyscraper Museum will continue the discussion with a live panel – but online audience – that brings together the President of the RPA, Tom Wright, the designer and producer of the centennial exhibition "The Constant Future: A Century of the Regional Plan," James Sanders, FAIA, and urban and planning historian Robert Fishman, whose SACRPH conference paper, "How Planners Saved New York: The RPA's Second Regional Plan (1950-1970) and the Survival of Transit," has inspired our program. A video of Bob's illustrated talk will be shown at 5:30pm, 30 minutes before the live program. The video can be viewed anytime on the Museum's YouTube channel here. Also joining in the panel will be Lynne Sagalyn, Professor Emerita at the Columbia Business School, and Carol Willis, Director of The Skyscraper Museum.

As Bob Fishman observes in his talk, the reputation and credibility of planners have suffered badly in the past decades, both in professional circles and in popular culture, where Robert Moses is a chief villain of stage and screen. The question he asks – "What role, if any, did regional planning play in maintaining New York's global ascendancy over the last century (1922-2022)?" – has a more positive outlook in both the exhibition "The Constant Future," and in Bob's lecture. Our live-panel program will explore some answers and open the floor for audience Q & A.