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Thread: Design skills for private sector planners?

  1. #1
          roger's avatar
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    Design skills for private sector planners?

    I was wondering what sort of design skills are most marketable for planners who want to work in the private sector. I'll be going to grad school next year and I really want to enter the private sector; it seems like many firms have some sort of city design/physical planning focus.

    So what kinds of skills do they want, and how does one acquire them? Do you need an undergrad background in it, or can you just take a few grad classes? Or do you just need a decent sense of aesthetics? Or do they really just want people with architecture degrees?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Urban Design

    I would suggest a few classes in urban design....even if your major is planning...then on your resume list urban design as a primary emphasis along with whatever you choose in planning.....or dual degree....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I was told that it might be important to have good design skills, so for my under grad I had Art and Design with an emphasis on Environmental Design as a minor. I donít get to use it much... yet.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    If you know how to use CAD, GIS, Photoshop, and other applications, including drawing, drafting, or sketching skills, you will find yourself with an enormous pile of work on your desk. And that's a good thing! When your colleagues at your firm know you can do all that, you will benefit by having a lot of work to do. Your design skills will emerge from the courses you take - an urban design class may be a good start, but you may never ever get to design anything. The coursework may be steeped in methodology and/or theory, and that's not a bad thing. It's more fuel for your mind than anything else. The place to put your design chops to work will be in the studio courses you take. In a 2 year grad urban planning program, there won't be many chances to take a studio. I was able to take two of them and benefitted greatly from them. There, I got to draft, sketch, and fool around with Photoshop. I also worked alongside architecture students which was a beneficial experience as well. They have a different perspective that can be appreciated. All this has benefitted me greatly in my private sector planning job. Further, in terms of additional beneficial coursework, be sure you take a real estate development class that has a financial focus. Project finances greatly influence the design of every municipal project, whether it be a building or a streetscape.

  5. #5
          roger's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    If you know how to use CAD, GIS, Photoshop, and other applications, including drawing, drafting, or sketching skills, you will find yourself with an enormous pile of work on your desk. And that's a good thing! When your colleagues at your firm know you can do all that, you will benefit by having a lot of work to do. Your design skills will emerge from the courses you take - an urban design class may be a good start, but you may never ever get to design anything. The coursework may be steeped in methodology and/or theory, and that's not a bad thing. It's more fuel for your mind than anything else. The place to put your design chops to work will be in the studio courses you take. In a 2 year grad urban planning program, there won't be many chances to take a studio. I was able to take two of them and benefitted greatly from them. There, I got to draft, sketch, and fool around with Photoshop. I also worked alongside architecture students which was a beneficial experience as well. They have a different perspective that can be appreciated. All this has benefitted me greatly in my private sector planning job. Further, in terms of additional beneficial coursework, be sure you take a real estate development class that has a financial focus. Project finances greatly influence the design of every municipal project, whether it be a building or a streetscape.
    I am hoping to focus on real estate development, so there will definitely be a finance class or two. I used to draw/sketch a lot; I took a few Portfolio classes in high school, but I haven't used it since then. I'm no Picasso, but I think I can manage. Can you learn those software packages during the course of your studies?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by roger
    Can you learn those software packages during the course of your studies?
    1)GIS - Yes

    2) CAD - Maybe possibly, but probably not since there is so much to learn beyond a basic intro class

    3) Photoshop - Could be tough, maybe take a course now at your local community college?

    I knew ArcView (GIS) and Photoshop (somewhat) before going into grad school.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    We round out our staff with a graphic artist, landscape architects, and 3D computer animation professionals. The current and long range planners can then focus more on their clients and order the graphics as needed.

    The visualization guys rock - check out the animations at visualizesuccess.com

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