Columbia Global Debates: Future Cities

Columbia Global Debates is a new format for public discussions on global issues filmed before a studio audience and streamed live around the world. The first event was hosted in Rio de Janeiero on Oct. 29, 2013, by Columbia Global Centers | Latin America (Rio de Janeiro) and featured presentations by Mark Wigley, dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro. Their presentations focused on different perspectives for urban planning in cities that have been through intense transformation. The presentations were followed by questions from Columbia Global Centers around the world. Journalist Patricia Campos Mello, an editor and columnist with Folha de São Paulo moderated the conversation.

Mark Wigley, dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, shared his perspectives on city planning, with examples from Istanbul, Mumbai and other cities across the Studio X and Columbia Global Center Network. He said cities are sites of exchange, memory, innovation and the unexpected, calling this "generosity by design."

"Cities are more important than nations,” he said. “Cities are the engines of contemporary life… you become yourself in a city."


Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, spoke about Rio’s plans for the revitalization of its dock area, and how lessons from other “Gateway” cities have informed the project.

“The image of Rio to the world starts in port area and along Rio's coast,” he said, while showing an animated rendering of how the revitalization project would transform the city’s waterfront.


Q & A

Click on each image below to
watch brief videos of each
question and answer



How can different city agencies work together? (9:27)


How do recent protests affect plans in Rio? (4:32)

Mumbai via Twitter

For Dean Wigley: If you could be the mayor of any city, which one and why? (2:18)


Does Brazil have issues of rural migrants moving to cities similar to those of China? (4:14)


Does the internet mean that he concept of a “city” are no longer restricted by its geographic limits? (2:42)

Beijing via Twitter

What is the role of academic institutions in helping shape and imagine the future of cities? (2:18)


How does Rio deal with issues of slums or favelas built on land that is now considered prime real estate? (5:59)


What are Rio’s lessons for Istanbul’s Olympic bid? (4:22)