Announcing our 2020 Conference...

57th International Making Cities Livable (IMCL),

"From Sprawl to Neighborhoods: Making Livable Cities (and Suburbs) for ALL"

 Call for Papers and Design Award Competition Entries

June 2-6, 2020

The Center for the Performing Arts * Carmel, IN (USA)

You are warmly invited to join us for a very special 57th IMCL Conference!

The IMCL is the premier international leadership conference on urban quality of life since 1985, bringing together many of the world’s most innovative and successful mayors, planners, economic development specialists, designers, developers, NGO officials, and researchers and scholars.  Importantly, the IMCL conferences cover not just big cities but also small towns and suburbs, since such a large percentage of the world’s inhabitants live in these areas, and many of the world’s social, economic and environmental challenges occur there too.

Please join us for our 2020 Conference, “From Sprawl to Neighborhoods: Livable Cities (and Suburbs) for ALL.” The transformation of sprawl into livable, walkable, sustainable neighborhoods remains an urgent challenge, especially so in an age of unprecedented rapid urbanization.

We’ll gather this year in Carmel, Indiana, a fascinating USA case study of transformation from a sprawling bedroom community to a walkable, diverse, thriving and livable town. Using Carmel as one concrete example, we’ll ask, what are the effective new tools and strategies to bring positive change to suburban areas?  What are the barriers Carmel and other similar success stories faced, and how did they overcome them? (Or if they didn’t, what can we learn from those lessons too?) What are their successes and lessons learned, and what can other places learn from them?

And we’ll examine other related challenges for cities and towns today, including the crisis of affordable housing, the need for climate resilience and adaptation, promoting neighborhood health, achieving urban equity, promoting active mobility, age-friendly cities, neighborhoods for children, and much more.  We’ll also consider the timeless requirements for human scale architecture and mixed-use urban fabric, for reviving city and town centers, and creating vibrant public places where people can gather for farmers markets, festivals, outdoor cafes and community social life.

We’ll hear from leading researchers about the best evidence on emerging challenges and effective methods, including financial tools, regulatory innovations, design strategies, and promising (and occasionally worrisome) new technologies. We’ll hear from practitioners on the front lines about their successes and challenges, and the latest research on effective approaches. We’ll learn the latest trends from around North America, Europe, and other parts of the world, in livable and sustainable development.

Speakers will include international policy experts like Laura Petrella of UN-Habitat; experts in economic development and financial tools like Christopher Leinberger of George Washington University; leading international designers like Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk of DPZ Co-Design; leading researchers in sprawl transformation like Ellen Dunham-Jones of Georgia Tech; leading researchers in public health like Dr. Richard Jackson of UCLA; and hands-on mayors like Sven von Ungern-Sternberg, former Mayor of Freiburg Germany, and George Ferguson, former Mayor of Bristol UK -- and of course, Carmel's own remarkable mayor, Jim Brainard, and his staff.

Carmel is highly accessible (just 35 minutes from the major hub airport of Indianapolis) with a wide range of accommodation available. Indianapolis has regular direct flights from all over the US as well as Canada, Europe and Mexico, and also convenient connections through Chicago, New York and Washington. Rail service is also available through Chicago, Minneapolis or Washington, affording the opportunity for fascinating side trips. 

As the IMCL's director, I wanted to offer a personal invitation to colleagues, hoping you will join us to exchange important lessons in the textbook case study of sprawl transformation, Carmel, Indiana!

Mayor James Brainard's achievements are remarkable, including a Historic Arts Center, a new downtown, a magnificent performing arts center, new mixed-use buildings and new neighborhoods, all interconnected with bike lanes and traffic-calmed streets. You will be amazed by what can be done by a mayor with vision and a city that rejoices in replacing sprawl with functional, livable neighborhoods.

We will look at what can be done for all kinds of distressed and sprawling suburbs as well as other city neighborhoods. Many of our cities are using infill to create more walkable neighborhoods, rezoning for mixed use and human scale, (especially along transit corridors), building transit routes in order to enable this denser development, and developing tools to prevent gentrification in poor neighborhoods, but there are many challenges and pitfalls. We will see some of the most inspiring projects from around the world that are using these tools.

When we do it right, children and elders can walk or bike to school, services, grocery stores, and access public transit, without having to cross dangerous streets. Streets are populated and lively, and there is a sense of community.

Carmel is offering a spectacular hospitality program, numerous biking, walking and bus tours, dinners, evening receptions, social events and entertainment of all kinds. Thanks to our host, Mayor Jim Brainard, Carmel will offer an outstanding conference venue.

We’ll also use the occasion to pay special tribute to our founders, the late Dr. Henry L. Lennard, a renowned Viennese medical sociologist, and the late Dr Suzanne C. Lennard, a prominent English architectural scholar. The Lennards were passionate about sharing the best evidence-based lessons of great cities and towns to improve quality of life for all. Suzanne Lennard worked tirelessly in the years following her husband Henry’s death, up to her own death last year. They both left an enduring legacy, and a vital mission for the quality of life in cities, towns and neighborhoods into the future. I know I speak for the entire board and staff when I say that we are honored to be able to build on and expand their legacy. In that spirit, I and the rest of the IMCL board, including Mayor Brainard, look forward to welcoming you to Carmel for a great conference and celebration! 


Michael Mehaffy, Ph.D.
International Making Cities Livable 

Dear conference attendees:

I'm excited to invite you to the City of Carmel this year for the 57th Annual International Making Cities Livable conference to see how we have created a vibrant city by transforming a car suburb into a more walkable community. At past Livable Cities conferences, I have learned from the best in the world about creating distinct mixed use human scale areas to which people are drawn and in which they can thrive. As you walk or bike through our central core, you will see many of the principles in action at our new downtown City Center, the thriving Arts & Design District and Midtown.

At the Livable Cities conference in Carmel, you will have the opportunity to discuss a wide variety of strategies for cities whether large or small, whether urban or rural, designed to improve how your residents, businesses and visitors interact. Thought provoking discussions and great visuals help convey how to better plan public spaces, transportation patterns and other city design tools to help your city compete among the best.

This conference brings together a blend of academic leaders, elected officials, city planners and engineers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Canada and across the United States. Attendees will have the unparalleled opportunity to hear from all corners of the globe and have projects critiqued during the competition segment of the conference.

The Livable Cities conference also allows plenty of time for attendees to discuss their ideas and current projects or issues with others and get helpful feedback. In addition, we'll make sure you get out and about to explore all that Central Indiana has to offer. We know that you will find the blend of our hospitality and culture a welcome surprise. I look forward to seeing you in June of 2020 in Carmel, Indiana.

Very truly yours,

Jim Brainard
City of Carmel, IN

Arriving in Carmel by Air

The Indianapolis International Airport, a major midwest hub (IND), is served by regular direct flights from all over the US as well as Canada, Mexico and Europe.  The airport is located off I-70 just five minutes west of the I-465 loop and approximately 35 minutes from downtown Carmel. To reach Guest Services at IND call 317-487-7243 or stop by the Guest Services desk which is located in the main area of the airport (Civic Plaza), just beyond the Ticketing Hall.

Indianapolis International Airport
7800 Col. H. Weir Cook Memorial Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46241

Arriving in Carmel by Train

Indianapolis is located on the Amtrak Cardinal line from Chicago to New York.  Additional stops include Washington D.C., Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul, offering scenic side trips before or after the IMCL conference. Enjoy the splendor of Union Station, a fine Richardsonian Romanesque structure built in 1888. Carmel is 30 minutes by car from the station. 

Amtrak Union Station
350 South Illinois Street
Indianapolis, IN 46225

Ground Transportation - Airport

Car Rental

IND offers eight car rental options at the Ground Transportation Center, located on the first floor of the Terminal Garage. Off-airport car rental companies are also available. 

Taxi Service

Taxi service is available at the curb on the lower level of the terminal just outside of Baggage Claim. There is a $15 minimum charge for all fares from the airport, regardless of distance.

Uber & Lyft

Uber and Lyft services are available from the airport to your selected destination. When using these services for pick-up, exit the terminal to the Ground Transportation Center on the first floor of the Terminal Garage. UBER & LYFT​ 

Black Car Service

Shared ride and personal luxury limousine services are available in the Ground Transportation Center, located on the first floor of the garage as you exit the terminal. 

Private Car Service

Luxury Worldwide Transportation services provide turnkey transportation services including airport transfers.

Ground Transportation - Train Station

Union Station Indianapolis has a similar offering of taxi, Uber, Lyft, and bus options.  There are car rental agencies in nearby downtown locations.  For more information see the website. 

Hotels in Carmel

IMCL is reserving a block of rooms at the new, luxury Hotel Carmichael, located next to the Palladium in downtown Carmel! Special rates will be available to IMCL participants after registration. Please check back soon for more information. You can learn more about Hotel Carmichael here.

IMCL reserved a block of rooms at the Farfield Inn & Suites Carmel, located a short distance away from the Palladium. Special rates are available to conference participants. You can make reservations by following the link, Book your group rate for International Making Cities Livable, or call (317) 574-2500 and mention IMCL.

A courtesy shuttle will be available to transport guests to and from the conference venue.

Visitor Information

For complete travel and tourism information, check out the Visit Hamilton County website, or the page dedicated for information about the City of Carmel, especially for local visitor information.

57th IMCL Sponsors



We Look Forward to Seeing You!