New York City / Tuesday Dec 11,2018
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Book Launch: Order without Design

NYU Development Research Institute 14A Washington Mews New York, NY 10003

Join us on Tuesday, December 11 at 5:30pm for the launch of Alain Bertaud’s new book from MIT Press, Order without Design: How Markets Shape Cities. In it, Bertaud argues that operational urban planning can be improved by the application of the tools of urban economics to the design of regulations and infrastructure. Drawing on five decades of urban planning experience in forty cities around the world, Bertaud links cities' productivity to the size of their labor markets; argues that the design of infrastructure and markets can complement each other; examines the spatial distribution of land prices and densities; stresses the importance of mobility and affordability; and critiques the land use regulations in a number of cities that aim at redesigning existing cities instead of just trying to alleviate clear negative externalities. Bertaud concludes by describing the new role that joint teams of urban planners and economists could play to improve the way cities are managed.

Professor William Easterly, Co-Director of NYU’s Development Research Institute, will provide an opening commentary on the book. Bertaud will then sit down for a discussion of the book with Weiping Wu, Professor of Urban Planning and Director of the M.S. in Urban Planning program at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, before fielding questions from the audience. Books will be available for sale and signature.

This event is co-hosted by NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management, NYU’s Development Research Institute, and NYU’s Urban Planning Student Association.

Praise for the Book

“Bertaud has a unique ability to enliven analysis with stories of success and failure in city development that range over a long period and a wide geography.  The result is a cautionary tale best summed up by his comment that planners should be 'nonvisionary but competent'—focused ruthlessly on data.”

Dame Kate Barker - author of Housing: Where's the Plan?

“Compelling and thought-provoking, Order without Design is a must-read for anyone interested in urban and regional planning. Informed by decades of observation and practice in cities worldwide, it is a timely call for economists and planners to forge collaborations in meeting the needs and challenges of our cities, manage urban expansion or shrinkage, sustain access and mobility, and regulate land development and built form, to name but a few.”

Weiping Wu - Professor of Urban Planning, Columbia University; author of The Chinese City

“Alain Bertaud challenges the norm in developing new cities; master plan it, build it, thereafter the jobs and people will come! Bertaud encourages those of us in the fields of urban planning and urban economics to move forward together to better understand the dynamics of city structure and building form, in order to develop livable and sustainable cities for the future. He arms us with an understanding of easily digestible formulae and graphs that span the topics of planning, mobility, and affordability that will undoubtedly influence a new generation to break out of their siloes and integrate across horizontals.”

Michael Koh - Fellow, Centre for Liveable Cities, Singapore

“Alain Bertaud is one of the world's great urbanists. He straddles the world of urban economics and urban planning—and draws forth the best of both fields. This book is a fascinating tour-de-force of clear thinking and real-world experience. Like Alain, it is wise, witty, and deeply insightful. Anyone who cares about cities throughout the world should read this book and grapple with Alain's incisive intellect.”

Edward Glaeser - Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University; author of Triumph of the City


Alain Bertaud
Senior Fellow / Director's Office Labs

Alain Bertaud is a Fellow at the Marron Institute. He is the author of  a book about markets and the practice of urban planning titled “Order Without Design: How Markets Shape Cities” published by MIT Press in December 2018. Bertaud previously held the position of principal urban planner at the World Bank. After retiring from the Bank in 1999, he worked as an independent consultant. Prior to joining the World Bank he worked as a resident urban planner in a number of cities around the world: Bangkok, San Salvador (El Salvador), Port au Prince (Haiti), Sana’a (Yemen), New York, Paris, Tlemcen (Algeria), and Chandigarh (India).

Bertaud’s research, conducted in collaboration with GIS-expert Marie-Agnès Bertaud, aims to bridge the gap between operational urban planning and urban economics. Their work focuses primarily on the interaction between urban forms, real estate markets and regulations. Bertaud earned the Architecte DPLG diploma from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Bertaud has been recently interviewed about his book in podcasts by Russ Roberts and Tyler Cowen

Russ Roberts Interview on EconTalk

Interview with Tyler Cowen

William Easterly
Professor of Economics / New York University
Co-director / NYU Development Research Institute

William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute, which won the 2009 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge in Development Cooperation Award. He is the author of three books: The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor (March 2014), The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Harm and So Little Good (2006), which won the FA Hayek Award from the Manhattan Institute, and The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (2001).

He has also published more than 60 peer-reviewed academic articles, and ranks among the top 100 most cited economists worldwide. He has written columns and reviews for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Review of Books, and Washington Post. He has served as Co-Editor of the Journal of Development Economics and as Director of the blog Aid Watch. He is a Research Associate of NBER, senior fellow at BREAD, and nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings. Foreign Policy Magazine named him among the Top 100 Global Public Intellectuals in 2008 and 2009. He is also the 11th most famous native of Bowling Green, Ohio.

Weiping Wu
Professor of Urban Planning / Columbia University

Weiping Wu is Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia GSAPP and Director of the M.S. Urban Planning program. Trained in architecture and urban planning, Prof. Wu has focused her research and teaching on understanding urban dynamics in developing countries in general and China in particular.