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Inspire Speakers Series Presents: Charles Montgomery and Chris Koch

May 14, 2015 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

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Online registration closes at 2:00 p.m. on May 14. General admission is available when doors open at 5:00 p.m.

“Whatever creates or increases happiness, or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.” – Aristotle

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Charles Montgomery, urban experimentalist and author of Happy City, believes that happiness should be a city’s primary goal for its residents. His research and experiments show that trust and positive social connections are imperative ingredients for urban happiness. But U.S. cities have been “designing social connections out of our lives” for the past half-century. Even in dense cities where people live close together, we manage to stay confined to our own cars and homes.

As populations grow and cities become even more dense, Montgomery asks: How can we build more sociability, and thus more happiness, into cities of the future? What kinds of choices would residents make if we felt more trust and empathy towards our neighbors? What other goals can we meet – like strengthening our economies or combating climate change – if we prioritize happiness?

We’ll explore these questions and more with Charles Montgomery at the season finale of Green Building Alliance’s Inspire Speakers Series. Charles will be joined on stage by Chris Koch, CEO of the Design Center in Pittsburgh. Where Charles offers examples and experiments from happy cities around the world, Koch offers local opportunities for addressing happiness through the lenses of sustainability, equity, and livability.


Charles MontgomeryCharles Montgomery is an award-winning author, community organizer, and social experimenter. He blends urban design and psychology to explore how changes to city planning can improve the well-being of people in high-density living while decreasing the effects of human activity on the environment. Charles helps planners, city builders, and regular people find new ways to see and change the world around them. He and his team also create participatory programs where people use their own cities as laboratories. His work has been covered in Dwell, The Atlantic, and the Guardian. Fast Company offers three excerpts from Montgomery’s book here, here, and here. Learn more about Happy City and Montgomery’s latest experiments here.


More about Charles Montgomery:

  • Received a citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards public understanding of climate change science.
  • Partnering with the BMW Guggenheim Lab, Montgomery used a phone app to track the emotions of people in public spaces in New York City’s Lower East Side.
  • Started the Home for the Games initiative, which paired 2010 Winter Olympic guests with homes in Vancouver. Proceeds went to homeowners and to help Vancouver’s homeless population receive housing aid.
  • Learn more about Charles Montgomery here.



Chris KochChris Koch is CEO of the Design Center, an organization dedicated to design, urban planning and public policy resulting in more livable, equitable and sustainable communities in the Pittsburgh region. In her role, Chris is responsible for management and execution of the organization’s education activities, public policy efforts, and its core programs. Prior to joining the Design Center, Chris was Chief Operating Officer of GTECH Strategies, the non-profit social enterprise she co-founded in 2006 as a graduate project. Koch has provided expertise on urban blight reduction strategies and social entrepreneurship to organizations such as the Brookings Institute, Princeton University, and has been honored at the White House as an emerging leader in the field of social innovation.

More about Chris Koch:

  • Chris holds a Masters of Public Policy Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College
  • Honors include:
    • Echoing Green Fellow
    • Women Greening the Pittsburgh Region (Women and Girls Foundation)


120907_8872_feinstein063.JPGPeter Walker is our guest emcee for this lecture. Dr. Walker is the newly appointed Dean of the Falk School of Sustainability at Pittsburgh’s Chatham University. In this role, he is not only building a new School, but also a new Campus at Eden Hall, and a new approach to education. Eden Hall’s 388-acre campus will embody Chatham’s commitment to sustainability and become a living classroom dedicated to attaining the greatest social, economic, and environmental impacts through greatly limiting its ecological impact. Dr. Walker spent 12 years as the Director of the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University and 25 years in disaster and humanitarian crisis management around the world.




1. Understand how urban design can benefit public health.

2. Evaluate ways that urban design projects have transformed areas with poor living and working conditions into more livable spaces.

3. Discuss how urban design can create equitable communities in Pittsburgh.

4. Explore the connection between social and environmental sustainability in the built environment.

GBCI CMP AIA logo This event is approved for 2.0 GBCI CEUs and 2.0 AIA HSW credits.

Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits.  Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events).  Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.

Is this event out of your price range? We want this incredibly inspiring evening with Charles Montgomery to be accessible to everyone in our community.  If you find the $20 rate to be prohibitive, please email Jenna Cramer to discuss your options.


Janel Everly


Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at the Kaufmann Center
1825 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219 United States
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