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Christopher B. Leinberger

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William H. Whyte Award

For his contributions to creating more environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable communities through his work as a developer, academic, and author.

The builChris_Leinbergert environment is in the midst of a structural change. With the increasing awareness of the impacts of suburban development and the rising demand for walkable urban areas, comes the need for expert leadership to guide the nation into a new era of sustainable and livable communities. Christopher B. Leinberger is doing just that. As one of our nation’s leading urban minds, Leinberger has not only advanced important theories about sustainable urbanism in his role as an academic and author, but has contributed to the supply of these communities through his role as a developer, land use strategist and entrepreneur. 

Following his graduation from Swarthmore College and the Harvard Business School, Leinberger accumulated an impressive résumé of leadership within the real estate development field, including 21 years as a managing director and co-owner of RCLCO (formerly Robert Charles Lesser & Co). The company is now the largest independent real estate advisory firm in the country. As a founding partner of Arcadia Land Company, a New Urbanism, transit-oriented development and consulting firm, Leinberger has dedicated himself to land stewardship and building a sense of community through walkable developments around the country.

In 2005, Leinberger brought his expertise into the classroom as a professor and founding director of the Graduate Real Estate Development Program at the University of Michigan. Concurrently, he expanded his contributions to valuable urbanism research as a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Leinberger’s work with Brookings currently focuses on developing economic and social equity performance metrics of walkable urban places.

Most recently, Leinberger has turned his energies to changing federal and metropolitan policies regarding sustainable development and economic growth. Leinberger serves as president of LOCUS, a group of real estate developers working to change these policies and one that is part of the national coalition Transportation for America. His work on these issues includes research and publications that explore sustainable development as a tool for economic recovery and growth. In recent pieces that have appeared as magazine cover stories or guest chapters in books, Leinberger advances his theory that meeting the currently unsatisfied demand for homes in walkable communities could be the key to restarting a stalled economy while avoiding increased national debt or job-slaying cut backs. His recent book, The Option of Urbanism, explores similar themes.

Leinberger’s work has been featured by media outlets such as National Public Radio, the Atlantic Monthly, and the Wall Street Journal. Rightly named one of the “Top 100 Urban Thinkers” of all time, Christopher B. Leinberger has dedicated a lifetime to advancing dense, walkable communities for our increasingly livable urban landscape.