Brookings announces new initiative for innovation and placemaking; OKC one of first projects

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 8, 2015 — Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott today announced the establishment of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking, a collaboration between the Brookings Institution and Project for Public Spaces. The initiative is made possible through a gift from Brookings trustee Robert M. Bass and his wife, the philanthropist Anne T. Bass.

“The Basses’ gift is timely and visionary,” said Talbott. “In this city-driven century it is imperative that cities grow in competitive, inclusive, and sustainable ways. These resources will allow Brookings and Project for Public Spaces to integrate their expertise in building dynamic communities. I can think of no better partners for this effort.”

The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative for Innovation and Placemaking aims to catalyze a new approach to city-building that integrates the reinforcing benefits of vibrant public spaces, innovative urban economies, and inclusive growth.

“Cities have become the undisputed engines of national economies and the vanguard of policy innovation, but many are still held back by compartmentalized approaches to growth,” said Bruce Katz, Brookings vice president and the Brookings leader of the Bass Initiative. “This transformative gift will allow us to suggest ways to break down traditional city development silos and use cities’ inherent benefits to inextricably link efforts to foster innovation and build quality places.”

After a period dominated by isolated research parks, the geography of innovation is returning to cities; in turn, city leaders are striving to build vibrant spaces that match communities’ cultures and serve diverse people and innovative firms. In this context, the Bass Initiative will build on Brookings’s research on innovation districts—dense, amenity-rich enclaves that are typically anchored by R&D institutions and facilitate new ideas and businesses—and PPS’s long track record in placemaking, a participatory community process to develop quality public spaces by capitalizing on a community’s assets and potential.

The initiative will encourage mixed-use entrepreneurial and cultural districts through research, network building, and on-the-ground projects, including studies of the innovation ecosystems in pilot cities Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. Eventually, it aims to inform a new city-building movement and grow a network of urban innovation-hub leaders dedicated to strengthening their economies while bringing new life to public spaces.

Robert M. Bass is president of Keystone Group, where he is responsible for investments in securities, financial services, manufacturing, information services, real estate, oil, and gas. He is also founding partner of the Oak Hill Venture Partners and chairman of Aerion Corporation. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Mr. Bass is an alumnus of Yale University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He began his business career after Yale at Wells Fargo Bank and returned to Fort Worth after graduating from Stanford. He was elected to the Brookings Board of Trustees in 2011.

Anne T. Bass is an American philanthropist and the president of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Foundation. She received a B.A. from Smith College in 1970 and an M.L.A. from Stanford University in 2007. She is an active supporter of many social, civic, and educational organizations.

“Anne and I are pleased to support this cross-disciplinary initiative,” said Bob Bass. “Brookings and Project for Public Spaces are both the best in the field for urban economic development and placemaking, and we’re excited to see what they accomplish in this first-of-its kind effort.”

"The Bass Foundation has been instrumental in supporting innovative placemaking efforts for many years,” said Fred Kent, founder and president of Project for Public Spaces. “This gift, and our partnership with Brookings, will help us move toward the kind of place-led and community-driven development that will ultimately make our cities more distinctive, competitive, and livable."

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Founded in 1916, Brookings’s mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: strengthening American democracy; fostering the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; and securing a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system.

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. As the central hub of the global Placemaking movement, PPS’s pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.


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