Tomorrow, at 7pm GMT, the shortlist of the 28 Official Finalists in the New7Wonders Cities campaign will be announced. On the eve of that announcement, we present the distinguished members of the Panel of Experts who are advising on the selection of the 28 cities from the longlist of 77 voted during the qualification phase of the campaign. The seven panelists are: Professor Federico Mayor, Zaha Hadid, Professor Winy Mass, Simon Anholt, Bernard Weber, Kennedy Odebe and Professor Amitabh Kundu.
Professor Federico Mayor (President): During the 12 years he spent as head of UNESCO (1987-1999),
energized the Organization’s mission, “to build the bastions of peace in the minds of men,” which is exemplified in its Culture of Peace and Non-violence programme. Along with enjoying a distinguished political and academic career, Professor Mayor has devoted much time to the arts. He has published four books of poetry, including El fuego y la esperanza, and several books of essays, such as The World Ahead: Our Future in the Making, Mañana siempre es tarde, La paix demain? and UNESCO: un idéal en action. Link: Professor Federico Mayo
Zaha Hadid: The first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, the Iraqi-British architect has designed buildings all over the world, and is considered one of the most gifted professionals working in the field today. Consistently pushing the boundaries of architecture and urban design, Hadid, who once said she does not create “nice buildings”, is famous for sinuous and curving forms such as those of the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 London Olympics. Other notable Hadid projects include the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, the MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome and the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi. Link: Zaha Hadid
Professor Winy Mass: As the director of the Why Factory, a research institute for the future city that he founded in Delft in the Netherlands, Winy Maas combines his two principal passions: architecture and urbanism. These two disciplines are central to the work of MVRDV, a Rotterdam-based architecture and urban design practice he started in 1993 with Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. Its innovative philosophy has earned MVRDV a respected position across the international architecture scene. Underpinning the thinking of Winy Maas is his work as part-time Professor of Architectural Design at Delft University of Technology. Link: Professor Winy Mass
Simon Anholt: In his 2010 book, Places: Identity, Images and Reputation, Simon Anholt wrote that “richness and complexity are valuable image attributes for any country, city or region.” In his previous work — Competitive identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions — he suggested that the term “place brand” is an ideal metaphor for a city’s reputation, and his groundbreaking work on understanding and managing reputation identity has ensured Simon Anholt an international career as an independent policy advisor to national, regional and city governments as they develop and implement strategies for enhanced global economic, political and cultural engagement. Link: Simon Anholt
Bernard Weber: By leveraging the networked power of communications technologies and social media, Bernard Weber has created a virtual voting platform that enables millions of people to take part in democratic decision making. The Swiss-born visionary behind the New7Wonders campaigns is dedicated to creating “Global Memory” based on a “canon of 7” chosen by a universal electorate through a process of worldwide dialogue. He grew up with architecture and urbanism, as his mother was one of the closest associates of the architect, artist and city planner, Le Corbusier, during his last 7 years. Le Corbusier also designed her private museum in Zurich, which today serves as the headquarters of New7Wonders. Link: Bernard Weber
Kennedy Odebe: President and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities, Kennedy Odebe is one of Africa’s outstanding community organizers and social entrepreneurs. He was born and raised in Kibera, an informal settlement on the perimeter of Nairobi and one of the largest slums in Africa, where he experienced firsthand the harsh realities or urban poverty. Kennedy received a scholarship to Wesleyan University and graduated in 2012 with honors in Sociology. As well as being a senior fellow with Humanity in Action, he is an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow. He divides his time between Nairobi and New York City. Link: Kennedy Odebe
Professor Amitabh Kundu: His article for The Economic and Political Weekly, published in Mumbai, and enjoying a global reputation for independent scholarship and critical thinking, have titles such as “Making Indian Cities Slum-Free” and “Politics and Economics of Urban Growth”. Along with being the Professor of Economics at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development and Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Dr. Amitabh Kundu is a Visiting Professor at the University of Amsterdam, the Maison des Sciences de L’homme in Paris and the South Asian Institute in Heidelberg, Germany. Link: Professor Amitabh Kundu
Following the announcement of the 28 Official Finalist Candidates tomorrow, 21 October, voting for the New7Wonders Cities Finalists will proceed across three qualifying phases. The Official New7Wonders Cities, chosen by hundreds of millions of votes from around the world, will be revealed on 7 December 2014.