Transforming Urban Spaces and Places

Lendlease leaders discuss resilient, sustainable and community-focused places at the 2022 WRLDCTY executive forum in New York City.

  • 4 Nov 2022
  • by
  • Lacey Jamison
  • Communications Manager, Lendlease for Google Development Ventures

In early October, Claire Johnston, CEO for Lendlease Americas and interim Managing Director of Lendlease Google Development Ventures, as well as Bill Ruh, CEO Lendlease Digital, spoke at WRLDCTY in New York City.

WRLDCTY is an executive forum and gathering that brings together the world’s best ideas about cities from the leading visionaries and practitioners in urban design, real estate and technology. Designed to inspire urban innovation, the theme of this year’s forum was ‘Repurposing: finding out how to push towards sustainability and how to take spaces & places and make them into something new.’

Claire participated in a fireside chat with Alexa Arena, Senior Director of Real Estate Development at Google. The two discussed Google and Lendlease’s real estate venture, and how they are working with the community to help transform spaces throughout the Bay Area, unlocking the potential of people and place. Claire and Alexa walked the audience through their shared approach, discussing the balance of innovation and discipline the organizations must manage to contribute to solutions toward the Bay Area’s housing, community and infrastructure challenges.

Claire explained that Lendlease’s decision to partner with Google for such a project arose from both companies’ mutual prioritization of sustainable development. “To achieve the innovations the world needs to thrive through climate change, you need scale - and a partner who is aligned with your broader business ambitions,” said Claire. “Lendlease and Google’s values are very much aligned, and that shared, intrinsic north star makes this type of project achievable.”

Claire and Alexa emphasized the importance of working closely alongside the community, engaging early and often to balance collective desires with a realistic vision and framework to create a place that meets the community’s mutual goals.

Meanwhile, Bill Ruh participated in a fireside chat alongside Bettina Zerza, Founder and Principal at Zerza Architects, and moderator Brooks Rainwater, Senior Executive, National League of Cities and Director, Center for City Solutions. The trio explored the topic of ‘Smart Buildings and Bustling Streets: A New Perspective on Work, Live, Play.’


Lendlease Digital CEO Bill Ruh chats with Bettina Zerza, Founder and Principal at Zerza Architects.

From intelligent places, digitally augmented offices, and reimagined public spaces, Bill shared his expertise and perspective on the key data points, design requirements, and activation elements that will meet the reframed expectations of the new urban worker (and dweller). He also shared insight into the preliminary data collected from Lendlease’s Podium Property Insights — an effective digital strategy for real estate owners to assess and forecast space requirements, employee satisfaction and sustainability metrics — to reflect the current trends of employees returning to the office. “We have identified the different ‘personas’ that are coming into the office, and the most popular persona is the ‘event attender,’” said Bill. “These are employees who only go into the office for events; their behavior is that they go in one to one-and-a-half days per week, but only stay two to three hours. About 23 percent of employees are ‘event attenders’.”

Bill’s session also addressed a wide range of questions from “What role does technology play in smart buildings?”, to “How do we manage physical and virtual space together?”, and finally, “Where does sustainability and climate change come into play when developing buildings?”

The invigorating sessions were held at The Times Center in New York City, and included more than 8,700 global virtual attendees and 250+ in-person attendees.