St. Louis in 2030 – Land, Cities, Climate

Washington University and the City of St. Louis, through the Sustainable Land Lab initiative, will host a panel discussion about how cities can use their assets – particularly vacant land – to mitigate, adapt to and be resilient in the face of climate change. This event – St. Louis in 2030 – Land, Cities, Climate – will leverage the expertise of civic leaders and researchers to develop the civic dialogue around vacant land, climate change and neighborhood sustainability. St. Louis in 2030 – Land, Cities, Climate will include Pecha Kucha-style presentations and a lively panel discussion centering around three primary questions: 1) What are the challenges and opportunities for cities to mitigate, adapt to and be resilient in the changing climate; 2) How can vacant land be an asset in reshaping cities into sustainable urban environments; and 3) What do tangible built and policy solutions look like, and how do we facilitate their implementation?

Panelists include Richard Reilly (Co-Founder of the Sunflower+ Project: STL), Don Roe (Director of Planning and Urban Design Agency, City of St. Louis), Patty Heyda (Assistant Professor in Urban Design and Architecture, Washington University), Kim Medley (Interim Director, Tyson Ecological Research Center, Washington University), and Otis Williams (Executive Director, St. Louis Development Corporation).


A joint initiative of Washington University in St. Louis and the City of St. Louis, the Sustainable Land Lab is a living laboratory of strategies for creatively reusing vacant land that draws on the creativity of thinkers and doers in the St. Louis region to propose and then test innovations. Currently, five demonstration projects on parcels in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood are testing innovative ideas and integrated strategies for vacant land into assets that advance sustainability. The Sustainable Land Lab was initiated through a public competition launched in November 2012, as part of the Sustainable Cities Conference, hosted by Washington University in partnership with the City of St. Louis.

To date, the Sustainable Land Lab has focused on how to inspire and test creative and smaller-scale interim uses of vacant land. This is an important question, as it is unlikely that all of the nearly 20,000 vacant parcels in the city will be redeveloped in the next decade, and there are myriad untapped opportunities for vacant land to contribute to neighborhood vitality in lieu of immediate redevelopment.

But an equally important question, which creative civic thinkers have begun to investigate, is: What will St. Louis city look like in the foreseeable future, at a population of 500,000? Or, more principally, what do we want our city to look like and what decisions must we make now to bring that possibility to life?

The Sustainable Land Lab seeks to participate in this thought experiment by asking how vacant land can be leveraged to reshape our cities’ fabric into a sustainable urban environment of the future. For example, how we can use vacant land to:

Provide key environmental services such as storm water management, soil remediation, habitat restoration and air quality control;

Seize unique economic opportunities afforded by surplus vacant land such as local energy generation, food production and other job creation; and

Enhance community vitality through the arts, education, and recreational opportunities.

Special Thanks