There is no such thing as a perfect city, but all great cities have moments of perfection — perfect streets or buildings, perfect places to raise a family or to relax with a coffee — and all strive for perfection when they undertake grand civic projects revitalizing their downtowns or waterfronts, or building innovation hubs, airports, and arenas, or reforming their governance systems, or integrating streams of new immigrants. Cities, more than ever, are the engines of our economies and the ecosystems in which our lives play out, which makes questions about the perfectibility of urban life all the more urgent. Joe Berridge, one of the world’s leading urban planners, takes us on an insider’s tour of some of the world’s largest and most diverse cities, from New York to London, Shanghai to Singapore, Toronto to Sydney, Manchester to Belfast, to scrutinize what is working and what is not, what is promising and what needs to be fixed in the contemporary megalopolis. We meet the people, politicians, and thinkers at the cutting edge of global city making, and share their struggles and successes as they balance the competing priorities of growing their economies, upgrading the urban machinery that keeps a city humming, and protecting, serving, and delighting their citizens. We visit a succession of great urban innovations, stop to eat in many of Joe’s favorite places, and leave with a startling view of the magical urban future that awaits us all.


  •      What constitutes perfection when we talk about cities?
  •      What are the key elements of urban success in our time?
  •      In the contest between bottom-up Jane Jacobs and top-down Robert Moses, who’s winning?
  •      Is Asia surpassing Europe and North America in the arts of city building?
  •      Which global city is state-of-the-art at this moment?
  •      Can a city become great without learning to manage large inflows of immigration?
  •      Should cities compete to land the offices of global tech firms? Why and how?
  •      How can politics and politicians best realize urban greatness?
  •      What’s the role of ‘starchitecture’ in city success?
  •      Why can some cities get things done while others seem stuck?
  •      Why are cities forgetting about the important small things – libraries, parks, schools?
  •      Why is good food so central to urban life?


Joe Berridge, a partner at Urban Strategies, is an urban planner and city builder who has had an integral role in the development of complex urban planning and regeneration projects in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Asia. He has been strategic advisor for the development of the city centres of Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff and for the waterfronts of Toronto, Singapore, Sydney, Cork, London and Governors Island in New York City. He has prepared campus master plans for the Universities of Manchester, Waterloo, Queen’s and Western and is now advising on the new hub for Toronto Pearson International Airport. Joe teaches at the University of Toronto and is a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.


“There is nobody better to help us build a more perfect city than Joe Berridge…Read it if you want to help build a great city or just live in one that is more perfect for you.” – Richard Florida, University of Toronto, Author of Rise of the Creative Class

“Joe Berridge is one of few people I have worked with who understands what makes a place work and what makes it successful and, crucially, how the people who live and work in it can prosper. His analysis is essential reading.” – Sir Howard Bernstein, former Chief Executive of Manchester City Council

“Joe Berridge’s book helps us to experience the cities that he and his team have worked in but, more than that, they have taken the time to get under the skin of these places and their people and to bring it all to life for us.” – Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council

“This book is a love story of cities. It is so well observed — the places, the people, the history and what the future holds. Joe tells a very personal and beautifully written story direct from the front line. An absolute must read for everyone who cares about, and wants to understand, what makes cities and their citizens tick.”  – Dame Alison Nimmo, Chief Executive of the Crown Estate

“Each city has its own DNA. In Perfect City, Joe Berridge expertly demonstrates, with the love and deep knowledge of cities that one of the great urban planners brings to bear, how cities can capitalize on their unique strengths and plan around their weaknesses to be the best they possibly can be.” – Dan Doctoroff, Sidewalk Labs, Former Deputy Mayor, New York City