Beginning in 2008, the World Design Organization has selected a new World Design Capital every two years, which recognizes a city for their effective use of design to drive economic, social, cultural, and environmental development.  This year Mexico City is officially the sixth World Design Capital, and it is the first city in the Americas to receive this honor.

Teams including designers and artists, politicians and political scientists, and even AI experts collaborate to find innovative ways to improve the city. Many of their proposals have been refined through citizen engagement and feedback, which has been crucial in the final designs. Initiatives have focused on transportation, the visibility of refugee communities, pedestrian and bike rights, kid-friendliness of the city, and air quality. One of the projects turned city streets into play spaces in poor neighborhoods, and another created vertical gardens to clean the air.

Philanthropic investors have also played a major role in Mexico City’s development. Carlos Slim, a Mexican engineer and billionaire who once ranked as the richest person in the world, contributed in a major way to the city’s art scene. He founded one of its most renowned museums, Museo Soumaya, which is named for his late wife, Soumaya Domit. The building, finished in 2011 and designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero, is covered in 16,000 hexagonal aluminum tiles that combine to create the uniquely twisted hour-glass silhouette.  The collection inside the museum ranges from Rodin sculptures, to Diego Rivera, Monet, Renoir, and Degas, and features more than 66,000 works spanning 30 centuries of art. All its operating costs are covered by Slim’s fortune, including free admission 365 days a year.

From museums and art, to architecture and urban planning, this vibrant city has established its place in the world as a Design Capital and a hub of inspiration and creativity.