Charles Montgomery

How can we be happier in cities? Charles Montgomery finds answers at the intersection of urban design and the new science of happiness. In psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics, and in cityscapes from Disneyland to Dubai, he demonstrates that we can transform our own lives by redesigning the cities we inhabit.

Charles Montgomery is an award-winning author, urbanist and leader of a team creating happier cities around the world. His book, Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, examines the intersection between urban design and the science of happiness. The New York Times wrote: “Happy City raises issues most of us have avoided for too long. Do we live in neighborhoods that make us happy? That is not a silly question. Montgomery encourages us to ask it without embarrassment, and to think intelligently about the answer.”

As founding principal of Happy City, Charles leads an interdisciplinary team helping governments and property developers on four continents to translate evidence into pragmatic plans to achieve healthier, happier societies. His collaborators include the World Health Organization, the Guggenheim Museum and governments and property developers in Canada, the USA, the UK, Mexico, New Zealand, Dubai and India. The team created the world’s first national toolkit for happy community design for the government of the United Arab Emirates.

Charles also creates experiments that challenge us to see our cities—and ourselves—in entirely new ways. His Home for the Games initiative led hundreds of people to follow his example and open their homes to strangers during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Working with the BMW Guggenheim Lab and the citizens of New York City, he transformed an empty lot into a machine to maximize feelings of altruism. Each experiment is driven by insights in the science of human wellbeing. Montgomery’s work ultimately nudges us out of our comfort zone to find a hopeful new vision for cities of joy.

Among his numerous awards is a Citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards understanding of climate change science. Charles is a member of the UN Sustainable Solutions Network’s sub-council for Happy Cities.