June 8, 2011

Rapid urban growth and globalization are having a major impact on the historic urban environment. Immigration and population growth have led to the rapid expansion of urban areas across the globe, while smaller urban centers are facing emigration leading to obsolescence, stagnation, and decline.

Budapest riverfront cityscape
Today over fifty percent of people live in urban centers, a figure that is expected to rise to seventy-five percent by 2050. These opposite poles of growth and decline are indicative of larger social, economic, and cultural factors that shape a country or a region's development. What is the impact of these forces on urban heritage and what role does conservation play in sustaining vibrant urban centers? Is heritage preservation a potential driver for development that offers new economic possibilities, or is conservation hindering efforts to managing rapid growth, modernization, and achieving higher standards of living?

Join our panel of professionals as they discuss the role of heritage conservation in the 21st century city.


Gábor Demszky was elected five times as Lord Mayor of Budapest (1990–2010). He has the experience of integrating heritage conservation into the management of a large European city undergoing change.

Paul Knox is a university distinguished professor and a senior fellow for international advancement at Virginia Tech's School of Public & International Affairs. He is a co-author of Small Town Sustainability: Economic, Social, and Environmental Innovation.

Susan Macdonald (Moderator) is the head of field projects at the Getty Conservation Institute. Before coming to the Getty, she was director of the NSW Heritage Office in Australia where she was involved in a wide range of conservation issues, including urban planning, development, economics, policy, and technical matters.

Elizabeth Vines is a conservation architect and an adjunct professor at the Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia & the Pacific at Deakin University in Melbourne. She is the author of Streetwise Asia: A Practical Guide for the Conservation and Revitalisation of Heritage Cities and Towns in Asia.

Last updated: March 2014