1. About IUA
  2. Our Mission: Creative Urban Problem Solving
  3. IUA Executive Staff
  4. IUA Regional Directors
  5. IUA Core of Urban Researchers and Practitioners
  6. IUA Programs
  7. IUA Communication, Networking and Visibility
  8. IUA Financial Strategy and Policy
  9. IUA Donors, Sponsors and Partners

1. About IUA

The International Urban Alliance, Inc. (IUA) was conceptualized by Johns Hopkins Urban Fellows who participated in the 45th IUFA (International Urban Fellows Association) of the Johns Hopkins University in Barcelona, Spain, on June 22-23, 2015. It was conceived as a nonprofit, charitable organization meant to continue and enhance the 46-year old IUFA tradition of international cooperation and networking in the field of urban planning, as started at the Center for Metropolitan Planning and Research (Metro Center) at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

IUA was incorporated in Bethesda, Maryland, in 2015, and in September 2016, it received the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The non-profit has a core of Hopkins International Urban Fellows and an increasing number of Associates, who are qualified and interested in working with IUA. The International Urban Alliance is open to, and encouraging cooperation with research groups, think tanks, nonprofit organizations and universities in the United States and internationally.

2. Our Mission: Creative Urban Problem Solving

The Mission of IUA (International Urban Alliance) is to address the tough issues and challenges of the cities in the 21st century, from poverty and inequity to mobility and climate change, and from dysfunctional governance to transparency, participation and entrepreneurship.

Our Vision is a better urban environment and a higher quality of life through the efforts of a broad international alliance of architects, planners, and city builders: developers, lawyers, and bankers.

We believe that we can accomplish our Mission by rejuvenating the community of Fellows and Associates, expanding its geographic coverage, and diversifying the multidisciplinary aspects of the community of urban scholars and practitioners. A critical success factor is educating and mentoring the younger Associates through participation in an international dialogue on the future of cities, and through direct involvement in solving urban problems creatively in cities internationally.

3. IUA Executive Staff

President: Mircea Enache, Ph.D.
Urban Planner, Washington, DC, USA

Director: Lorenzo Ciapetti, Ph.D.
Economist & Planner, Bologna, Italy

Director: Marius Plescan
Sociologist and Data Scientist, Romania

4. IUA Regional Directors

Jason Byrne, Ph.D., Gold Coast, Australia

Maria Antonia Casellas, Ph.D., Barcelona, Spain

Eric Champagne, Ph.D., Ottawa, Canada

Lorenzo Ciapetti, Ph.D., Bologna, Italy

Mircea Enache, Ph.D., Bucharest, Romania

Volker Kirchberg, Ph.D., Hamburg, Germany

Corinne Larrue, Ph.D., Paris, France

Jieming Zhu, Ph.D., Shanghai, China

5. IUA Core of Urban Researchers and Practitioners

Urban Research has always been the focus of Johns Hopkins Fellows’ activities in Baltimore. The 1995 Silver Anniversary Book of the Johns Hopkins International Fellows shows a vast range of research interests and research themes of the close to 300 Hopkins Fellows in the period 1970-2015. While IUFA supports this variety of individual research themes, the International Urban Alliance (IUA) is significantly more structured, more coherent and more selective in its approach, with an emphasis on applied research. The IUA applied research efforts must support IUA’s goal of engaging in solving urban problems in American and international cities. We are working to grow IUA into a very active organization, respected, and more reputable every year. If the funds received can help us “open the door” to applied urban research and initial consulting in a city, e.g. planning charrettes and workshops, we can then expect subsequent contractual engagements, most likely in association with our partners, international groups, companies, non-profits, think tanks and consortia.

Some of IUFA’s most prominent alumni over the years are Pasqual Maragall, who went on to become Mayor of Barcelona and President of the government of Catalunya; Jerzy Regulski, who after the democratization of Poland was elected to the new Senate and named Minister for Local Government Reform; Jean-Marie Ernecq, who was the director of the regional planning agency in the North of France and the region’s representative in Brussels; Anton Anton, who was the State Secretary of Research in the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research; and Oriol Nello, who is the former Secretary for Territorial Planning for the government of Catalunya.

6. IUA Programs

  1. EDUCATIONAL/RESEARCH: International Exchanges
  2. THE WORLD OF IDEAS: Future of Cities
  3. FROM IDEAS TO ACTION: Creative Urban Problem Solving

1. EDUCATIONAL/RESEARCH: International Exchanges

The International Urban Alliance (IUA) has an active role in recruiting young urban researchers and practitioners to spend 2-3 months with IUA partner universities. In doing so, IUA is relying on its network of International Urban Fellows and its regional centers in Barcelona, Bologna, Paris, Bucharest, Hamburg, Ottawa, the Gold Coast (Australia) and Shanghai.

IUA offers the young urban researchers and practitioners orientation, advice and mentorship from the Urban Fellows and/or an online crash course in U.S. urban planning and policy. We will introduce the urban fellows to the urban programs at Georgetown University and Aspen Institute U.S. (City Lab), as well as the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Colvin Institute for Real Estate at the University of Maryland.

IUA will continue to advise the Urban Fellows after their visit in the U.S., about exchanging good practices with their home city or town in Europe and elsewhere, and will engage them via IUFA annual conferences and expected demos and pilot projects in U.S., Canadian and European cities.

2. THE WORLD OF IDEAS: Future of Cities


IUA has a major role in improving the contents and the quality of the IUFA Annual Conferences, and increasing IUFA and IUA visibility and reputation internationally. Other than financial support to improve the resources and the organization of the Conferences, IUA will feed the best results in urban research and consulting/assistance to cities for presentation in the conferences. It can also bring to the IUFA Conferences IUA partners, and top urban researchers and practitioners.

IUA will support more structured IUFA conferences, new conference formats (e.g., call for papers; publication of papers) and the publication of the Conference Proceedings volumes. The annual international IUFA Conferences will report on the best work by the IUA Fellows and Associates, and on the cooperative research results at IUA, along with case studies from American, Canadian, European and Asian cities, best practices, lessons learned and successfully implemented sustainable urban policies.

Barcelona 2015


Sibiu & Brașov 2014



Applied urban research and consulting/technical assistance to cities will be based on an exchange of best practices and lessons learned on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as Asian cities. The IUA young Fellows and Associates studying and engaging in solving urban problems must be aware of subtle social, cultural, racial and ideological features of the U.S. urban scene which must be addressed if a transfer of experiences is to be successful. Maybe even more importantly, the American pioneer tradition and psyche, the deeply entrenched anti-urban attitude, and the ideology and politics derived from them, are important barriers to European exports of urban advances and innovations.

On the other hand, Knox and Marston identify in “Places and Regions in a Global Context” (Prentice Hall, 1998) distinctive physical, social and economic features of European cities, as opposed to North American cities, which provide resistance to large-scale restructuring: complex street patterns, the presence of plazas and squares, high density and compact forms, low skylines, lively downtowns, stable social and physical neighborhoods, the scars of war, symbolism, and a tradition of ‘municipal socialism’.

IUA supports, in partnerships with international groups and companies, the movement for walkability and public and pedestrian-friendly places in American cities downtowns and suburbs, as well as higher density mixed developments, along with social housing and inclusionary zoning initiatives (Leinberger, The Option of Urbanism, Island Press, 2009). In European cities, creative financing, public-public and public-private partnerships and zoning innovations (such as air-rights) and negotiations with developers inspired by American cities experiences could be adapted to urban planning and design. North American cities’ recent evolution can also serve as a warning to European and other international cities about the excesses of automobile use, the exclusivity of “drivable” neighborhoods, suburbs and city downtowns, the danger of exurbia and uncontrolled urban sprawl, and the reduced or even total lack of “walkability”, leading to mass health problems and costs.

If American cities and residential areas can benefit from a trend towards medium density, in European cities, seriously constrained by a scarcity of space, the solutions will most likely be high and very high residential densities, as some Western European cities have experimented with. Opportunities have been identified for IUA to get involved in, and offer consultancy and technical assistance in cities like Baltimore, Barcelona, Bucharest, Sofia and Tbilisi.


One of the IUA initiatives is setting up an International Dialogue Group on City Building (Build Smart) which will provide an opportunity for urban planners and architects (the “dreamers”) to interact with the developers and builders (the “doers”) as well as bankers and lawyers (the “enablers”) in order to exchange best practices, get to know their common goals and build synergies in the process of smart city building of the future.

IUA is planning to hold two international workshops/conferences of the International Dialogue Group on City Building per year, one in the U.S., and another one outside the U.S., in Europe, Latin America or Asia.

3. FROM IDEAS TO ACTION: Creative Urban Problem Solving

The IUA Program’s goal is to develop a creative, multidisciplinary and multicultural, integrating and participatory approach to solving complex urban problems.

Creativity occurs at the intersection of many disciplines, different geographies and different cultures – something we already have in the Hopkins urban fellows and something we will cultivate and enlarge in the International Urban Alliance, Inc. (IUA) with the new generation of Fellows and Associates.

An example of a “niche” approach to solving urban problems by IUA is the empirical and consensus-building approach to urban analysis, planning and policy, based on data mining, and unique software tools for strategic assessment, SWOT analysis, and group decision support (Enache, Ciapetti, The approach implies creative problem-solving, lateral thinking, brainstorming and focus groups involving planners, decision-makers and stakeholders. The approach is currently tested in Italian medium-size cities and metropolitan areas, in partnership with the urban consortium of Italian universities (URBAN@IT) and the National Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), as well as in Bucharest, Romania, and Baltimore, Maryland.

The 2016 IUFA Annual Conference in Venice (June 19-21) is a good illustration of the international cooperative effort to advance a creative approach and tools for solving complex urban problems, with contributions from Johns Hopkins International Urban Fellows Corrado Poli, Lorenzo, Ciapetti, Mircea Enache, Francois Denieul, as well as invited experts like Franco Montalto, Professor at the Drexel University in Philadelphia, and Mario Verdicchio from the University of Bergamo in Italy.


Download IUFA 2016 Venice Report »

7. IUA Communication, Networking and Visibility

The International Urban Alliance, Inc. (IUA) will sign covenants or agreements with third parties (international urban think tanks, urban associations, NGOs, international organizations, administrations of cities, to jointly pursue applied urban research and consulting/technical assistance activities to support its purpose. Specifically, IUA will engage in a sustained activity of developing partnership relations and alliances with international groups, universities and companies involved in urban design, planning, policy and development, such as (tentative list):

Johns Hopkins University (by default), Urban Land Institute (ULI), Aspen Institute U.S., Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS, London, 1868), L’Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris, The Urban Consortium of Italian Universities (URBAN@IT), Gehl Architects in Copenhagen, Georgetown University, University of Maryland, University of Ottawa, Spanish Universities, Bartlett School of Planning in London, Griffith University (Australia), the Center of Excellence in Planning (CEP) in Bucharest, as well as partnerships and alliances with Asian universities.

Bucharest Railway Station – Center of Excellence in Planning »

Visit CEP Website »

8. IUA Financial Strategy and Policy

The IUA financing strategy is two-pronged:

  • Securing donations, sponsorships and grants to support itself, the IUFA conferences, and initial demonstration workshops (planning/design “charrettes”, pilot projects) in international cities in North America, Europe etc.
  • Engaging in partnerships and alliances with international professional groups to deploy contractual work (taxable income) of consulting and technical assistance in those cities.

Funds will also be raised independently by the IUA Regional Centers. They will also actively pursue business opportunities in projects financed from European funds and other sources, and will suggest business partnerships, consortia and alliances to allow for bidding successfully in such projects.

The International Urban Alliance (IUA) is organized exclusively for educational and scientific purposes, including advancing the field of urban planning and policy by supporting education in the field, and assisting cities internationally. Funds obtained through the 501(c)3 tax-exempt status will be used to:

  1. Offer financial support to IUFA: website/communication, the organization of the Annual Conferences of the International Urban Fellows Association (IUFA) of the Johns Hopkins University, and publishing and disseminating the Conference Proceedings.
  2. Offer financial support for the activity and meetings of the International Dialogue Group on City Building.
  3. Offer financial support for consulting and technical assistance offered pro bono by IUA Fellows and Associates to cities internationally, such as demos, planning workshops, planning and design charrettes, and pilot urban projects.
  4. Offer financial support for urban studies, researcher exchange and practice at the IUA partner universities and in international urban programs endorsed by IUA. Such programs must be initiated and/or directed by IUA Fellows and Associates, must address urban planning, policy and development issues, and must be offered in the English language.

9. IUA Donors, Sponsors and Partners

As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, the International Urban Alliance (IUA) accepts donations from individuals (patrons) and sponsorship from Business Partners and Corporate Partners. Ear-marked donations can support specific IUA Programs, like the ones described above.

IUA donors, sponsors and partners receive the IUA Newsletters and Annual Reports, including financial disclosure. Business Partners and Corporate Partners benefit free participation in IUA events, workshops and conferences. In addition, Corporate Partners receive space for advertising on the IUA website and brochure, while Business Members are listed with their logo and contact information.