Cure for the Common City

top-down and bottom-up

cityLAB’s intrepid CEO, Eve Picker, took the stage at TedxCMU in March 2013 to describe her vision for a “bottom-up” approach to economic development.

Her talk, “Cure for the Common City,” focused on the costs of top-down and bottom-up approaches to urban development, as Carnegie Mellon University’s student paper described:

Picker explained the difference between bottom-up and top-down city design, using Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center as an example of an expensive, top-down project and the Toonseum in Downtown as an example of a cheaper, bottom-up method for revitalization.

the cure for the common city

thinking small

Eve explained her cure for the common city this way:

These tiny projects can stitch together the larger assets already in play, and they can have an impact far beyond their modest starting point. These are the cities that transform a city from common to unique. I believe that a thriving city should have both, but city leaders focus on their big, top-down projects because they’re permanent. They believe they will incubate other projects around them, and often they do, but today I’m going to show you how tiny projects, sometimes temporary projects, can have an equal if not greater economic development impact.

watch it here!

the department of bottom-up

Interested in hearing Eve explain the cure to the common city in your city? Contact us at!

other experiments