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I regularly edit and write books on the shaping, functioning, and future of durable cities. These books aim to inform a wide audience of scholars, practitioners, and interested citizens. Several of these books have been featured in peer-reviewed journals, popular media such as NPR and the New York Times, and they have won awards for innovative methodologies of inquiry.

Conrad Kickert with Hans Karssenberg
Routledge - 2022

Why do we walk past so many inactive frontages in our cities? What can we do about them?

This book provides the tools to maintain and rebuild the interaction between architecture and public space. Despite the best intentions of designers and planners, interactive frontages have dwindled over the past century in Europe and North America. This book demonstrates why even our best intentions for interactive frontages are currently unable to turn a swelling tide of economic and technological evolution, land consolidation, introversion, stratification, and contagious decline. It uses these lessons to offer concrete locational, programming, design, and management strategies to maximize street-level interaction and trust between street-level architecture, its inhabitants, and the city.

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Conrad Kickert and Emily Talen (editors)
University of Toronto Press - 2023

Shops, bars, and restaurants are a key part of city life, but what is the life of these storefront uses?

Our street-level economy is undergoing dramatic change. Retailers are reeling from the rise of e-commerce, rising rents, and storefront vacancy, along with a cultural shift from material to experiential consumerism. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to an economic upheaval as commercial corridors and the small businesses they house face sweeping closures, bankruptcy, and job losses.

Streetlife shows that now, more than ever before, we need to understand what makes our storefronts tick, what awaits them, and what we can do as planners, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to maintain retail as integral to urban lifestyle.

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Conrad Kickert
The MIT Press - 2019

Why is downtown Detroit today such a landscape of contrasts?

The award-winning monograph Dream City examines the paradoxes of Detroit's landscape of extremes, arguing that the current reinvention of downtown is the expression of two centuries of Detroiters' conflicting hopes and dreams. Kickert demonstrates the materialization of these dreams with a series of detailed original morphological maps that trace downtown's rise, fall, and rebirth.

Downtown Detroit has always been different from other neighborhoods; it grew faster than other parts of the city, and it declined differently, forced to reinvent itself again and again. Dream City is populated by a varied cast of downtown power players, from a 1920s parking lot baron to the pizza tycoon family and mortgage billionaire who control downtown's fate today. Even the most renowned planners and designers have consistently yielded to those with power, land, and finances to shape downtown. Kickert thus finds rhyme and rhythm in downtown's contemporary cacophony. 

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Mahyar Arefi and Conrad Kickert (editors)
Palgrave Macmillan - 2019

Who shapes our cities?


The Palgrave Handbook of Bottom-up Urbanism surveys the kaleidoscope of views on the agency of urbanism, providing an overview of the various scholarly debates and territories that pertain to bottom-up efforts such as everyday urbanism, DIY urbanism, guerilla urbanism, tactical urbanism, and lean urbanism. Uniquely, this books seeks connections between the various movements by curating a range of views on the past, present, and future of bottom-up urbanism. The contributors also connect the recent trend of bottom-up efforts in the West with urban informality in the Global South, drawing parallels and finding contrast between social and institutional structures across the globe.

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