George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, UK to speak at 51st IMCL Conference

We’re thrilled to have George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, England, as one of our Keynote Speakers at this year’s conference! George is a very interesting guy. Not only is he the first elected Mayor of Bristol (elected in 2012), but he is also an international champion of placemaking, sustainability, and cities for people. Oh, and, ever since he was an architecture student, he’s been pretty easy to recognize since he always wears red trousers!  

George Ferguson makes things happen. He has been called a "one-man regeneration machine". As an architect/urban designer, before becoming Mayor, he transformed the old Imperial Tobacco Factory into an arts center containing theater/restaurant/performing arts school/offices (home of Aardman Animations)/lofts (including his own) – and he revived a micro-beer brewery, which now produces award-winning ales.

While President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, he introduced the notion of X-Listing bad buildings across the UK that citizens felt deserved demolition. He is intolerant of bad architecture: "My idea of good architecture is about creating place. It's not about providing glitzy iconic buildings, competing one against the other.”

He is also a founding member of Sustrans, a British non-profit that promotes sustainable transportation.

As Mayor he has launched “George’s Ideas Lab,” a website for citizens to submit their ideas for improving the city, and he has implemented Make Sundays Special whereby downtown Bristol is closed to cars on Sundays and the streets are filled instead with markets, entertainers, and children’s activities.

He wants the city to be a 'laboratory for change'. At the end of last year, he rolled out Vision for Bristol, an ambitious agenda with programs to improve health, education, transportation (focusing on walking, biking, and public transport), placemaking, public participation and citizen empowerment, and promoting sustainability internationally. He plans to rebuild a large swath of human-scale mixed-use urban fabric in the city center, create a new Barcelona-style boulevard, and 'out-Copenhagen Copenhagen'.

To top it all off, Bristol has been named the European Green Capital for 2015 - in honor of which, look out for the green trousers!

We hope you can join us to hear more about George’s efforts in Bristol and to see what exciting ideas he has for the future.