Former and current community members are invited to attend “Building a Better City: Columbia’s Legacy and Promise” on Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 5–8 p.m., at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College (HCC). The event will be being presented by the Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration.

A small plates dinner, with local beers and wine, will precede a special program featuring expert speakers and video recollections of Columbia’s early visionaries and entrepreneurs. Admission is $50. Register at

“During Columbia’s 50th Birthday festivities, it is fitting that we honor the developers, planners, designers, architects, engineers and others who created this beautiful city,” said Marlys East, managing director of the Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration.

“Building a Better City: Columbia’s Legacy and Promise” opens with a “reunion” in the lobby of the Horowitz Center, where those who formerly worked on the Columbia project can mingle with those currently doing business in Columbia, as well as residents of all backgrounds and tenure in the community.

The program will follow in the Smith Theatre, where featured speakers Roger Lewis and Christopher Leinberger will discuss the impact of Columbia on developments both near and far in its first 50 years, as well as look forward.

Both Lewis and Leinberger have been following Columbia’s development for decades and have made previous appearances in the city. Lewis is an architect and urban planner and Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He has a weekly column in the Washington Post, “Shaping the City”; Leinberger is a land use strategist, teacher, developer, researcher and author. He serves as the Charles Bendit Distinguished Scholar, and research professor and chair, of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at The George Washington University School of Business.

Leinberger knew and worked with Columbia founder Jim Rouse, and his wife, Patty; and Lewis was a design consultant to The Rouse Company, and to subsequent Columbia development entities.
After the presentation, a short video will be shown. It features excerpts from interviews gathered during the past two decades by Ilana Bittner, of Pixel Workshop. The recently compiled recollections include commentary from Rouse; former Columbia General Manager Al Scavo; former Columbia Association President Maggie Brown, who died in 2010; and many others involved in the building of Columbia.

At the program’s close, dessert will be served in the lobby and the event will continue. Sponsors include Columbia Builders, Costello Construction Co. of Maryland, Harkins Builders, The Howard Hughes Corp. and Williamsburg Builders.

Columbia’s 50th Birthday Celebration began in March and is continuing through Saturday, Oct. 7, featuring a variety of community organizations and institutions that will be showcasing exhibits, events and activities throughout the celebration. More information is available at ColumbiaMD50 on Facebook and Twitter, and at