Peter Hall (urbanist)

Peter Hall (urbanist)

Sir Peter Hall is the Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration at The Bartlett, University College London and President of the Town and Country Planning Association. He is an internationally renowned authority on the economic, demographic, cultural and management issues that face cities around the globe. Sir Peter has also been for many years a key planning and regeneration adviser to successive governments. He was Special Adviser on Strategic Planning to the British government (1991-94) and a member of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Urban Task Force (1998-1999). Sir Peter is also considered by many to be the father of the industrial enterprise zone concept, adopted by countries worldwide to develop industry in disadvantaged areas.

Background & Academic life

Sir Peter was born in London on 19 March 1932. He graduated from St Catherine’s College, Cambridge with a Master’s degree and Doctorate before starting his academic career in 1957 as lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London. He later became a reader in geography at the London School of Economics. In 1968, at the age of 36, Peter Hall was appointed Professor of Geography and Head of Department at the University of Reading. He remained Geography Head of Department until 1980 but in the meantime became Chairman of the Planning School from 1971 for a total of 9 years until 1986 as well as Dean of Urban and Regional Planning for 3 years. Running parallel through the 1980s, he was also Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. He left Reading in 1989 and Berkeley in 1992 to take up the Chair of Planning at The Bartlett, University College, London, where he remains today. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the Academia Europea. He holds fourteen honorary doctorates from universities in the UK, Sweden and Canada. Sir Peter was knighted in 1998 for services to the Town and Country Planning Association.

Sir Peter has devoted his life to the study of the world’s cities from every angle – economic, demographic, cultural and managerial. He has written and edited nearly forty books, some of them translated into many languages. His first prominent book was 'The World Cities' published in 1966 simultaneously in 6 languages, a Chinese edition came out in 1982, a year before the English third edition (the research encompassed was ahead of its time, it is only since the mid-1980s that world cities became a major school of urban research). Of those devoted to contemporary problems of urban planning in Britain, Europe and the USA, the best known is ‘The Containment of Urban England’ (1973), an analysis of the British town and country planning system, based on a formidable amount of statistical research. It focuses on the processes of urban growth in England and Wales since World War II and describes how the planning movement tried to contain and guide it.

Another of Sir Peter's achievements is to have charted the history of modern attempts to shape and control the development of the city. He co-wrote ‘Sociable Cities’ (1998) an analysis of the legacy of Ebenezer Howard, whose ‘Garden Cities of To-Morrow’ (1902) became the most influential and important book in the entire history of 20th-century city planning. That same year, Professor Hall published his wide-ranging ‘Cities in Civilization: Culture, Technology and Urban Order’ - an 1169-page venture into the comparative cultural history of cities, which investigates the exceptional cultural creativity which distinguished the world’s great cities in their golden ages, from ancient Athens to late 20th-century London. In 2006, he completed direction of a two-year, seven-country study of Polycentric Mega-City-Regions in Europe, financed by a €2.4 million grant from the European Union.

Awards & honours

Sir Peter received the Royal Town Planning Institute Gold Medal in 2003 along with the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for distinction in research, further in 2001 he won the prestigious Vautrin Lud International Geography Prize. In 2005, he won the Balzan Prize for the Social and Cultural History of Cities since the Beginning of the 16th Century. He won the award “for his unique contribution to the history of ideas about urban planning, his acute analysis of the physical, social and economic problems of modern cities and his powerful historical investigations into the cultural creativity of city life.”


# London 2000, London, Faber & Faber, 1963, 1969
# The World Cities, London, World University Library, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1966,1977,1983 (French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish translations published simultaneously)
# The Containment of Urban England (with H. Gracey, R. Drewett and R. Thomas), London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd.; Beverly Hills, Sage Publications Inc., 1973. Two volumes: volume one Urban and Metropolitan Growth Processes or Megalopolis Denied; volume two The Planning System: Objectives, Operations, Impacts
# Planning and Urban Growth: An Anglo-American Comparison (with M. Clawson), Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, 1973
# Urban and Regional Planning, Hardmondsworth/London, Penguin, 1975, 1982; Newton Abbott, David and Charles, 1975; London, Routledge, 1992, 2002
# Europe 2000, London, Duckworth (ed.), 1977
# Great Planning Disasters, London, Weidenfeld, 1980
# Growth Centres in the European Urban System (with D. Hay), London, Heinemann, 1980
# The Inner City in Context, London, Heinemann (ed.,), 1981
# Silicon Landscapes (ed., with A. Markusen), Boston, Allen & Unwin, 1985
# Can Rail save the City? The Impact of Rail Rapid Transit and Pedestrianisation on British and German Cities (with C. Hass-Klau), Aldershot, Gower Publishing, 1985
# High-Tech America: The What, How, Where and Why of the Sunrise Industries (with A. Markusen and A. Glasmeier), Boston, Allen & Unwin, 1986
# The Carrier Wave: New Information Technology and the Geography of Innovation 1846-2003 (with P. Preston), London, Unwin Hyman, 1988
# Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 1988, 1996, 2002
# London 2001, London, Unwin Hyman, 1989
# The Rise of the Gunbelt: The Military Remapping of Industrial America (with A. Markusen, S.Campbell and S. Deitrick), New York, OUP, 1991
# Technopoles of the World: The Making of 21st-Century Industrial Complexes (with M.Castells), London, Routledge, 1994
# Sociable Cities (with Colin Ward), Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, 1998
# Cities in Civilization: Culture, Technology, and Urban Order, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998; New York, Pantheon Books, 1998


* Honorary Degree Orations, Loughborough University 2005,
* UCL News 2005,Thames Gateway Forum 2006 (Jabed Rahman)

External links

* [ Peter Hall's professional biography]
* [ Interview with Sir Peter Hall about the future of cities]
* [ UCL News]
* [ Transcript of Peter Hall's keynote presentation at Thames Gateway Forum, 22/23 November 2006 (PDF, 28KB)]
* [ Berkeley News]

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