top of page


2024 RUDC Symposium

Cities Are Relationships: Regionalism and Polycentricity

Conference Date: November 14, 2024

In person, The Athenaeum, Indianapolis, IN

RESPONSES DUE: JUNE 14, 2024 at 11:59pm (eastern daylight time)

Cities are physical manifestations of civic relationships and systems, and urban spatial organization is evolving away from a single “downtown” or “central business district” into a collection of polycentric and diverse communities that cooperate – or compete – with one another to build more dynamic urban environments. Urban economies are pushing forward new approaches and investigations as transformational change is happening. What are the significant factors and behavioral constructs we must understand today to set future generations up for success and thrive in built environments? Are polycentric cities expanding or contracting figuratively and physically? 

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Regional and Urban Design Knowledge Community (RUDC) is hosting the annual RUDC symposium this fall in Indianapolis, Indiana. Over many years, these symposia invite designers, policymakers, and urbanists to provoke, critique, and ideate on the future of cities. 

This two-day symposium will delve into emerging trends, theories, and technologies shaping the future of regional and urban design across the country. Convening in Indianapolis, the symposium's first day will expand on this ambition through various presentations and panel discussions. The conversation will continue on an optional second day, consisting of a series of tours.

We welcome all urban thinkers, regardless of your discipline or geography, to join us for this engaging and stimulating symposium in Indianapolis to explore and discover our Cities are Relationships: Regionalism and Polycentricity.

Those responding to this Call for Speakers must be available for an in-person presentation in Indianapolis on November 14th. Sessions may be recorded and publicly available after the symposium is completed.

We invite proposals that demonstrate how we can respond to urban impacts and disruptors through the power of design. The schedule and format will be adapted based on selected speakers and topics. The symposium will have a mix of single presentations that are part of panels, and the focus will be on short, inspiring provocations, where speakers will be allotted 10-12 minutes for presentations followed by discussion. Presentations, panels, and discussions should align with the following sub-themes:


  1. Building Healthy Relationships between Polycentric Cities through Connections and Mobility:
    The power of urban polycentric regions comes from collective cooperation. Interconnected relationships between polycentric cities play a critical role in the coexistence partnership. How can shared connections and efficiency in mobility (economic, social, and transportation, among others) build individual cities and regions? How can we connect multiple nodes or centers in cities evolving as commuting patterns shift and neighborhood “main streets” find new life?

  2. Balancing Individuality and Collective Identity:
    Perceptions of vibrancy and energy are not bound by geographic or demographic scale. How does urban design foster unique cultural expression and find symbiosis across diverse communities? Does the interconnectedness between polycentric cities play a crucial role in their coexistence and partnership? How do specific cities within a larger polycentric urban region maintain their unique identity while also contributing to the overall image and success of the region as a whole?

  3. Success Through Collaborative Resiliency and Sustainability:
    A major advantage of regional urban strategies across jurisdictional boundaries comes from shared investment and maintenance of infrastructural, ecological, and social systems. Finding resiliency through cooperation, not competition, across urban regions where each community participates in the investment to share in the rewards. This category could explore renewable resources, environmental protection/regeneration, utility infrastructure, food systems, knowledge production, and more. What role does a common collective goal for achieving shared and sustainable resiliency play in the future of cities? How does partnering in shared goals in regional polycentricity yield positive outcomes that also address the climate challenges we face?

  4. Equity Through Shared Revitalization and Growth:
    Historically, communities have been segregated by wealth, race, language, and non-traditional family structures, among others, which has led to measurable effects on health, education, crime, environmental quality, etc. for these marginalized communities. The decisions of designers and planners contribute to who benefits and who is forgotten in polycentric cities. What can planners and designers do to contribute to restorative justice for these previously marginalized communities and ensure equitable access to the benefits of urbanity moving forward? How do we promote revival in communities, cities, and regions experiencing decline?

  5. Future Technologies and Livable Cities:
    Climate, Energy, IoT, and Bio Economies are propelling new approaches and investigations as transformational urban innovation changes are underway. Understanding the significant factors and behavioral patterns today is critical to preparing future generations for success in resilient environments. Are polycentric cities expanding or contracting, both figuratively and physically? What are the best outcomes we can envision with our contemporary design and thought leadership decision-making processes? We will delve into these systems, economies, and methodologies for regions across North America as we strategize for 'futuring' relationships. Futuring relationships, a field, and practice of thought, visioning, and strategic formulation for potential outcomes, is not just theoretical. It involves adaptation and indicator correlations, analysis, exploration, testing, and forecasting of urban participation as a social construct, all to shape practical solutions for the future.


Those responding to this Call for Speakers must be available for an in-person presentation in Indianapolis on November 14th. Sessions may be recorded and publicly available after the symposium is completed.

Questions can be sent to or

Selected speakers will be notified in late July.

bottom of page