The Cities Collaboratory is a transdisciplinary research and teaching laboratory for the study of multiple dimensions of cities and urban processes. Based at the University of Washington, the Cities Collab seeks to challenge the way that cities are understood and reimagined as they meet twenty-first century challenges. Cities have long served as sites and agents of economic expansion, social innovation, political development, and cultural and intellectual incubation. As we become a majority-urban planet facing escalating environmental, economic, and social equity challenges, cities are increasingly important to our future.
Located in Seattle, a leading center for environmental, global health, and technology research, the Cities Collab is a research space, a place, and a teaching resource to encourage new discoveries about urbanization past, present, and future. The Cities Collaboratory emerged from the Andrew W. Mellon funded 2010-2012 John E. Sawyer Seminar "Now Urbanism: City Building in the 21st Century and Beyond." Over a hundred faculty and staff engage in urban and cities research at the University of Washington. Connecting these scholars, the Cities Collab offers a place of intersection for those interested in urbanism from multiple disciplinary and professional perspectives, providing a laboratory for the exploration of urbanism across the region and around the globe.
The Cities Collab draws on three frameworks for researching and teaching cities: the historic, the sociospatial, and the digital. To engage the urban present and envision the future, we must understand the historic coevolution of nature and society through time. A sociospatial perspective positions urban research within changing geographic arrangements, networks of connectivity between places, and the lived experience of place. Offering the potential of a shared visual language, the digital suggests an inherently multidisciplinary approach to knowledge. Bringing these frameworks together, we seek to build the foundations of more responsive and resilient future.