For many of us, Doug Allen shaped the way we look at cities. He structured our thinking and showed us how to analyze one town from another. And he did so in a way that was enjoyable and kept us wanting more. It wasn’t just his breadth of knowledge that captivated us, his students and friends. Doug had an uncanny ability to weave seemingly disparate elements together, displaying them side-by-side so neatly that their mutual relationship appeared with a sudden moment of clarity. Doug was the Cicero of the classroom. When I had my first course with him at Georgia Tech, my friends and I referred to it as “Storytime with Doug Allen” rather than it’s official title “History of Urban Form.”
It was experiences like these that brought us (Doug’s disciples) together. After hearing of his diagnosis, we started asking each other how we could continue Doug’s work in a meaningful way. I suggested the obvious: “We need to write a book.” David Green, like Daniel Burnham, has never had the problem of thinking too small. David enthusiastically agreed with my suggestion, then immediately proceeded to one-up me: “We need to create an Institute.”
It costs nothing to dream big. And this dream has potential. Powered by the enthusiasm of all those that Doug influenced during his long career as a professor, the Douglas C. Allen Institute for the Study of Cities could very well become the CIAM of the 21st century. Now that’s an aspiration worth pursuing.
Doug passed away on October 26, 2014. It was on that day that the institute’s founding board of directors signed the documents of incorporation. While we were pained with the immense loss, we were also excited knowing that the foundation of Doug’s legacy had been established. It is with all of that said that we proudly open the institute for the business of research and practice of urban design. Please visit us at DougAllenInstitute.org to learn more.