cityMany factors influence a city's economy. Economic prosperity is affected by more than a city's financial district; international reputation, culture, and even architecture play a role in determining a city's economy. In this lesson you will learn how some cities today are attempting to revamp their economies by building new and architecturally intriguing cultural centers. In studying these efforts, you will learn to recognize the costs and benefits of building such structures.


In this lesson, you will listen to an audio file about architecture and its effects on a city's economy. While listening, you will use an interactive note-taker to record supporting details about three of the story's main ideas. Then, using your notes, you will answer questions related to the story.


Activity 1

Listen to the Marketplace audio file about Economy of Architecture (timestamp 15:35).

While you are listening, use the note-taker to record supporting details about three main ideas:

  •  Reasons why "Great Cultural Centers" are vital to a city's conomic Prosperity
  • Cities That Have Developed or are Developing Great Cultural Centers
  •  Cost and Benefits and Economic Risks in Establishing Great Cultural Centers

    Additionally, as you listen to the segment, record any words that you don't know or that you think are important economic terms.

Then, listen to the audio file again to gather additional supporting details and possible definitions of the vocabulary words using context clues, and record them in your note-taker.

Finally, you will be asked a series of questions related to the story.

Activity 2

Read The New York Times article "A Struggle for Solvency at Milwaukee Museum" by Stephanie Strom (January 29, 2006) to learn about the financial woes of the Milwaukee Art Museum. wtc

Use the audio file and the additional web site to help you think about and record ideas about the following scenario:

You have just been hired to offer your advice on the building of a cultural center to replace the World Trade Center in New York. Consider the following as you record your ideas:

  • What are New York City's potential benefits from creating a cultural center in downtown Manhattan?
  • How will a cultural center help New York's economy?
  • New York City already has a reputation as a culturally rich city; does it need a new cultural center?
  • Learning from the experience of the Milwaukee Art Museum, what are some potential risks of rebuilding in lower Manhattan?
  • What are some issues specific to rebuilding the World Trade Center site that are important to consider?


By the conclusion of this lesson, you should be able to identify at least three ways in which that a city's architecture and cultural opportunities can affect its economic prosperity, both negatively and positively. These "opportunity costs" should be identified within the specific examples throughout the lesson. Use the P.A.C.E.D. model below as a guide while you make your decisions. The following link provides you with a printable version of the P.A.C.E.D. Decision Making grid.

Steps in the P.A.C.E.D. Model:

P- PROBLEM: Clearly define the problem.
A- ALTERNATIVES: List alternative solutions.
C- CRITERIA: Determine the criteria/goals.
E- EVALUATE: Evaluate each alternative.
D- DECISION: Make a decision.


Evaluation 1: Turn in your note-taker. Your work should reflect an understanding of how architecture and buildingculture can positively and negatively affect a city's economy.

Evaluation 2: Hand in your recorded ideas from Activity 2. Your work should display an understanding of the costs and benefits that entrepreneurs would face when building a cultural center in lower Manhattan.

Evaluation 3: Determine the hypothetical costs and benefits of building a convention center/ event arena in your city. Decide whether to build this arena or not, and why.


1. Explore the risks and benefits entrepreneurs face when starting businesses. To do this, complete Business Ownership: How Sweet It Can Be.

2. Specific cultural institutions in New York were affected by the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Learn about this by completing Marketplace: To Show Or Not To Show.

3. Consider how important it is to carefully weigh the units of costs and benefits when making decisions.To do this, complete New Sense, Inc. vs. Fish Till U Drop, or Coase vs. Pigou.