Remembering Suzanne Crowhurst Lennard

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of our dear friend and collaborator Suzanne Crowhurst Lennard, at 3:15 AM on September 17, after a relatively short illness.  The cause of livable and humane cities has lost a champion — but her work and legacy will go on, including the International Making Cities Livable conference series begun by her with her late husband Henry Lennard.  The next conference will be in Carmel, Indiana June 2-6, 2020. (Dr. Crowhurst Lennard was also co-editor of this blog.)

Dr. Crowhurst Lennard and her husband co-founded the International Making Cities Livable conferences in 1985. Since that time, she directed the organization of these conferences that have been acclaimed as “…the best conference on cities” (Mayor Joseph P. Riley), and “the most important continuous conference dialogue on making the world’s cities and towns more livable for all of their inhabitants” (Governor Dr. Sven von Ungern-Sternberg).

Since 1985 Dr. Crowhurst Lennard was dedicated to fostering this international interdisciplinary dialogue among outstanding international practitioners, scholars and city officials on strategies and tools for increasing the livability of our cities. The IMCL Conferences have drawn architects, urban designers, planners, city officials, public health scientists, social scientists, artists, urban geographers, transportation planners and community representatives to share expertise and experience on such issues as “Reviving the Heart of the City”, “Planning Healthy Communities for All”, “Creating Community through Urban Design”, “Reshaping Suburbia into Healthy Communities”, and, for the Carmel conference next year, “From Suburb to City: A Livable City for ALL.”

Much of her work focused on the design and functioning of public urban places. The purpose of this work was to understand how public places (particularly urban squares, plazas and market places) can generate social life, community and participatory self-government, and contribute to social equity and health. This work combined the study of social interaction patterns, history of the square and of democracy, building use analysis, effects of the architectural frame, influence of the surrounding built urban fabric, transportation planning, streetscape and seating design, influence of public art, and management issues such as scheduled weekly events (farmers markets), street entertainment and community festivals in the space.

Dr. Crowhurst Lennard’s work concerned the social, cultural and psychological aspects of architecture, urban design and city-making, clarifying how the built environment affects social interaction, health and quality of everyday life. Her studies encompassed making cities “livable” for children, youth and the elderly; relationship between physical health, social health and the built environment; walkability, bikeability and transit; small footprint mixed use urban fabric as essential for a livable city; the mixed use square as the “heart” of the city; the DNA of the city; city identity through regional architecture; balanced transportation planning to enhance health, social life and community.

Through intensive case studies of numerous European cities that since the 1970s have been implementing innovative approaches to land use planning, transportation planning, housing, architecture, urban space design and sustainability, she identified strategies and successful solutions that contributed most to creating livable cities.

Dr. Crowhurst Lennard co-authored the following books that summarize this work: Genius of the European Square (2008); The Forgotten Child (2000); Livable Cities Observed (1994); Livable Cities, People and Places (1987); and co-edited The Wisdom of Cities (2005); and Making Cities Livable (1997). She also published numerous articles in professional journals, including Planning, Urban Land, The Mayor, Western City, Environment & Behavior and other journals for professionals and city officials.

Dr. Crowhurst Lennard received her professional degree in architecture, B.Arch.(Hons.) from Bristol University, England (1968); and an M.Arch. and Ph.D.(Arch.) in “Human Aspects of Architecture and Urban Design” from the University of California, Berkeley (1974). She later held professorships and other academic positions at the University of California, Berkeley; Oxford Brookes University; Harvard University (Summer School); and the Universities of Ulm, Germany and Venice, Italy.