Critiques of urban renewal and large‐scale developments were prominent in the period 1960–80. In particular, they emphasized the negative environmental and social consequences of these schemes and especially attacked them for displacing low‐income and ethnically different populations. In the 1980s and 1990s, we saw a decline in such projects in many places, responding to popular protest and intellectual dissent, along with a new emphasis on preservation. More recently, however, we see the revival of mega‐projects, often connected with tourism and sports development and incorporating the designs of world‐famous architects. Frequently these are on landfill or abandoned industrial sites. The symposium for which this is an introduction shows the growing convergence of North American and European projects. This convergence is visible in their physical form, their financing, and in the role played by the state in a world marked by neoliberalism. At the same time, the new projects do display a greater environmental sensitivity and commitment to urbanity than the modernist schemes of an earlier epoch.