The Rockefeller Foundation Honors Dr. Joan Clos and Mr. PK Das with 2016 Jane Jacobs Medal

First-Ever Global Recipients – Medals to be Presented at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador

September 30, 2016

The Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin announced the first-ever global recipients of the 2016 Jane Jacobs Medal – Dr. Joan Clos and PK Das. The Medal is awarded to individuals whose work creates new ways of seeing and understanding cities, challenges traditional assumptions about urban life, creatively uses the built environment to make cities places of hope and expectation, and influences global understanding and application of Jane Jacobs’ principles. The 2016 Jane Jacobs Medal was open to international nominees for the first time, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Jacobs’ birth and the impact of her ideas on cities around the world.

Jane Jacobs during a press conference at the Lion's Head Restaurant in 1961. Photo: Library of Congress. Modifications: photo cropped.

Dr. Clos is the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), which promotes sustainable urban development around the world. Mr. Das is a Mumbai-based architect and activist, who has worked to revitalize open spaces, rehabilitate slums, and bring the voice of Mumbai residents into a participatory planning process.

The recipients will be honored at a ceremony on October 17 in Quito, Ecuador, during the United Nations Habitat III Conference. Along with the medal, the recipients will receive a cash award.

The Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal was created in 2007 to honor the author and activist who died in April 2006 at the age of 89. The Rockefeller Foundation’s relationship with Jane Jacobs dates back to the 1950s, when the Foundation made a grant to the then-obscure writer from Greenwich Village, for the research and writing of the book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Now more than fifty years later, Jane Jacobs’ work remains one of the most influential books ever written on urban design. In previous years the Medal has been awarded to honorees who have been undertaking work that advances the spirit of Jane Jacobs within New York City.

“It is a great honor to award The Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs’ Medal to our first-ever global winners, Dr. Joan Clos and PK Das,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “It is fitting that during the week of Habitat III, the effort spearheaded by Mr. Clos, we honor and recognize his tireless efforts to elevate the global discussion on resilience through smart urban development. And this is the perfect moment to honor Mr. Das, as we look ahead to implementing the New Urban Agenda, his vision for Mumbai and reimagining its citizens’ access to open space and improved affordable housing in one of the most densely populated cities on the planet serves as a model for all.”

“I am delighted to be nominated for this distinguished award. It is deeply gratifying to witness a developing worldwide consensus over the recognition of the power of urbanization as a driver for wealth, employment and human progress. The New Urban Agenda is an opportunity for achieving inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities for all,” said Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

“With the expansion of cities public spaces are sharply declining, both in physical and democratic terms. Cities are increasingly being divided. We are producing more backyards of discrimination, neglect and abuse of people and places, even natural areas are not spared. Our challenge is to integrate these fragmented and disparate backyards into unified, just and equal cities. For the achievement of this objective, planning and architecture are incredible democratic tools of socio-environmental change, that I actively pursue through collective endeavor. I am deeply motivated and honored by this prestigious first international Jane Jacobs Award being conferred on me,” said PK Das, Architect, Activist, Mumbai.

Throughout his distinguished career in public service and diplomacy, Dr. Clos has been leader in the global discussion of sustainable urban development. As Executive Director of the UN-Habitat since 2010, he has spearheaded UN-Habitat’s global conference in Quito, which will set the New Urban Agenda. Prior to this role, Dr. Clos served the Spanish Ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan, the Minister of Industry, Tourism, and Trade of Spain, and the Mayor of Barcelona. As Mayor of Barcelona, he spurred ambitious investment in Barcelona’s industrial zones. For his commitment to a better urban future, Dr. Clos is a 2016 recipient of the Jane Jacobs Medal.

Mr. Das works to democratize open spaces and urban planning in Mumbai. In addition to his architectural practice, he serves as the chairperson of the Mumbai Waterfronts Centre. Mr. Das and the Mumbai Waterfronts Centre organized the Open Mumbai Plan and exhibitions, which mapped, analyzed, and re-envisioned the city’s open spaces from coastline to parks and gardens and the vast extent of the natural areas. Mr. Das along with Nivara Hakk- a housing rights movement, of which he is the joint convener, has also advocated for the rights of slum dwellers and improved affordable housing. His primary concern has been to integrate the backyards of exclusion and abuse and integrate these disparate fragments for the achievement of just and equal cities. For his work to transform Mumbai and its open spaces, Mr. Das is a 2016 recipient of the Jane Jacobs Medal.

The selection of the Jane Jacobs Medalists and allocation of the prize money was determined by an internationally renowned judging panel chaired by Dr. Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. The 2016 Jane Jacobs Medal is administered by The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS).

children play on the shore near the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Giles Ashford.

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