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While cities attract people who want better opportunities, rapid urbanization could create political and national security crises unless adequate housing is provided in ways and in areas that foster social equity, said Alejandro Aravena, winner of the 2019 J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.

“The reason people come to cities is simple: better schools, better health care, better jobs. In order to achieve this, you have to have enough housing for people, along with a collective space for people to congregate in.” – Alejandro Aravena

“Cities are magnets and bombs, good news and bad news,” said Aravena. “They concentrate opportunities of every kind. The problem is that the scale, speed, and scarcity of materials we have [to meet housing needs] has no precedence in human history.”

Aravena, partner and founder of ELEMENTAL, an architecture firm in Santiago, Chile, was a featured speaker at the Fall Meeting. He stressed that social equity needs to play a large role when development is being considered. “The reason people come to cities is simple: better schools, better health care, better jobs. In order to achieve this, you have to have enough housing for people, along with a collective space for people to congregate in.”

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