[CITASA] Michael Jordan of Urbanism? Peter Hall RIP

jgilde02 at sprynet.com jgilde02 at sprynet.com
Tue Aug 12 18:41:13 EDT 2014

I serve on the Global Urban Development Board and just got this from my friend Marc Weiss!

Dear GUD Advisory Board members:

I write with deep and profound sadness to inform you that Peter Hall passed away in London on July 30th at the age of 82. He was a very charming, energetic, and good-hearted man, with encyclopedic intelligence and phenomenal productivity. A conversation with Peter was always delightful and enlightening on any subject, from serious to humorous. He genuinely enjoyed life, and he shared that curiosity and caring with everyone around him.

Peter Hall was actively involved in founding GUD from its inception on September 11, 2001. Peter provided wise and experienced leadership and enthusiastic support, graciously serving as GUD’s Vice Chair for the past 13 years. Without Peter’s vital pioneering role, there would not be GUD today. 

Peter has been my teacher, mentor, and friend for nearly 36 years, since I first met him in 1978 when he joined the faculty of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where I was a PhD student. 

Several UK publications, including The Guardian, Economist, Financial Times, Telegraph, Planning Resource, and UCL News, currently have online Peter Hall obituaries:







Peter Hall embodied the spirit of urbanism in his both his mind and his heart. He was the only urbanist ever knighted (in 1998) by the Queen of England, both for his enormous scholarship and intellectual expertise (his many academic appointments included Professor of City and Regional Planning and Director of the Institute of Urban and Regional Development at UC Berkeley, Professor of Geography and Dean of Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Reading, and Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration at University College London), and for his longtime policy leadership of the Town and Country Planning Association (he served as TCPA’s Chair and President).

Indeed, I used to call Peter Hall “the Michael Jordan of Urbanism” (for those who remember one of the world’s great athletes of the 1980s and 90s). Peter was still going strong right up to his last days. For example, in 2013 he produced a superb book, Good Cities, Better Lives: How Europe Discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism, with many detailed and insightful case studies of sustainable development and regeneration of communities, cities, and urban regions in Germany, Sweden, France, and the Netherlands, including an inspiring chapter about Freiburg.

>From the very beginning of GUD in 2002, Peter generously included us in a major European Union research consortium headed by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and by his own institution, University College London. This research project, funded by the European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON), analyzed urban and regional development trends and opportunities for eight formerly communist countries in central and eastern Europe that had become eligible to join the EU in 2004, in relation to overall implementation of the European Spatial Development Plan for the entire EU. Since GUD had an office in Prague, and the Czech Republic was one of the eight countries, we played a significant role in this large-scale research project: http://www.globalurban.org/ESPON%20Synthesis%20Report.pdf

During June 13-14, 2003, GUD hosted a major two-day meeting in Prague for our ESPON research consortium. Peter Hall gave a brilliant lecture at Anglo-American College attended by more than 100 distinguished guests. His lecture was entitled “The World’s Urban Systems: A European Perspective.” Two years later, when we inaugurated GUD Magazine in May 2005, we published Peter’s lecture as one of our lead articles under the Metropolitan Economic Strategy theme: http://www.globalurban.org/Issue1PIMag05/MagHome.htm

Peter’s work was the foundation for GUD’s European Union research. A few years later he masterfully summarized this innovative approach, together with Kathy Pain, in The Polycentric Metropolis: Learning from Mega-City Regions in Europe.

In 1981, when I became Deputy Director of the California Commission on Industrial Innovation (the CCII was created by Governor Jerry Brown and Co-Chaired by David Packard, HP’s co-founder, and Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder), one of my first official acts was to provide a research grant to Peter Hall and Ann Markusen at UC Berkeley to conduct the first economic development study of California’s emerging computer software industry.

This research project helped launch Peter’s enduring passion for studying, writing, and lecturing about the role of advanced technology in urban and regional economic development. His abiding interest in this rapidly growing field later produced numerous excellent books, starting with Silicon Landscapes (this 1983 volume co-edited with Ann Markusen was originally published in the journal Built Environment, and included seminal contributions from Peter on “The Geography of the Fifth Kondratieff” and Analee Saxenian on “The Genesis of Silicon Valley” plus my article about “High-Technology Industries and the Future of Employment” http://www.globalurban.org/High_Technology_and_Jobs.pdf

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Peter continued to be the author or coauthor of additional books related to the urban and regional technology and innovation theme, such as High Tech America, The Rise of the Gunbelt, The Carrier Wave, and Cities of the 21st Century, among others.

Two of my favorites are: 1) Technopoles of the World (co-authored with Manuel Castells in 1994), which still is one of the best international comparative studies on technological innovation-based economic development strategies; and 2) Cities in Civilization, which is much broader but includes a major focus on the history of technology and urban economic development. This comprehensive tour de force is one of Peter’s most fascinating and readable books, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

In 1980-81, with the support of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, I created Global Outlook: International Urban Research Monitor, which was the immediate precursor and direct predecessor of GUD. In order to properly launch the first issue of Global Outlook in January 2001, I asked Peter to write the front page cover article on “Globalization and Urban Economic Prospects”, which he graciously agreed to provide: http://www.globalurban.org/Global_Outlook_January_2001.pdf

My reconnecting with Peter Hall to write for Global Outlook turned out to be a fortuitous blessing and opening, because it was less than eight months later that he wholeheartedly agreed to help lead the efforts to create GUD (initially in Washington, London, and Prague), which launched so many of us on our incredible journey together.

It is painful for me, who nearly died in 2007 and again in 2009, to be writing in 2014 about the passing of my beloved friend and mentor, Peter Hall. Peter now joins the honor roll of other deceased GUDers: former GUD Board members Andrzej Flis, Eric Hobsbawm and Monika Jaeckel, and former GUD Advisory Board members Nick Bollman, Kim van Deventer, Joseph Gross, Richard Hollingsworth, Gill-Chin Lim, Roger Montgomery, Peter Oberlander, John Parr, and Anthony Smith, along with many past friends of GUD, especially Ray Anderson.

In loving memory of Sir Peter Hall and other fallen GUDers, let us pray for your health and well-being, because you are one of the more than 600 leaders and experts in 60 countries who constitute GUD’s remarkable global network, which really makes us who we are.

Let us hope that by continuing to collaborate we will eventually achieve GUD’s founding goal: helping enable all people, everywhere in the world, to live and thrive in peace with each other and in peace with nature. Peter Hall, one of the hardest working scholars and professionals I have ever known, never stopped trying to accomplish such a miracle, and no doubt he is counting on us, now more than ever, to keep following our visionary path forward into the 21st Century and beyond.

All the Best, Marc

Dr. Marc A. Weiss
Chairman and CEO

GUD offices: Barcelona, Beijing, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Porto Alegre, Prague, Rehoboth, San Francisco Bay Area, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, Washington DC

Chairman, Metropolitan Economic Strategy LLC
Chairman, Sustainable Economic Development Strategies LLC

Visiting International Professor of Economics and Business Management, Unisinos, Porto Alegre
Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

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John I. Gilderbloom Ph.D.
2013 Distinguished Faculty Award for Research and Creative Activity
Urban and Public Affairs, Professor
Home of the Top Ranked (#23) Planning Program in the Country
Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods

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