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Thread: Who is America’s top planner?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Who is America’s top planner?

    Most topics have a person who is known to be the #1 person. For example when it comes to Investing and Stock Market, Warren Buffet, computer programs, Bill Gates, but who is the current number 1 for Planning in the US?

    I guess what would make someone the number 1 planner in the US is a history of successful projects, changes with the times and adapts new ideas, several notable projects in urban areas that have acted as a catalyst to turn the community around for the better, someone who has a wide rage of both urban, suburban, and rural projects, is active in civic projects, and someone who is well known and respected in the planning community.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Tyra Banks is of course, she specializes in modeling!
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    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Why not STAN ?
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    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    This is a silly premise for a thread............. I shouldn't have to explain why...... it should be self evident.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    This is a silly premise for a thread............. I shouldn't have to explain why...... it should be self evident.
    I don’t think so. There are persons in each state that act as Planning Leaders that people know and have made a considerable contribution to planning. For example, in Michigan, Mr. Mark Wyckoff

    Quote Originally posted by APA Website
    Mark Wyckoff's career is characterized by listening, learning, innovative research, writing, teaching, editing, publishing, consulting, ordinance drafting, plan creating, problem solving, knowledge sharing, training, public and professional service, mentoring, and advocacy in a variety of planning jobs to improve quality of life and build a sustainable future for our children.
    While I think that he has done a lot in Michigan, I think that many other people have done more.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  6. #6
          Downtown's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    This is a silly premise for a thread............. I shouldn't have to explain why...... it should be self evident.
    I would the that Cyburbia's Great Leader would be the obvious choice.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Downtown
    I would the that Cyburbia's Great Leader would be the obvious choice.
    Ok... Other than Dan.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  8. #8

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaand the envelope, please!

    I would say Mark Hinshaw out of Seattle.
    Forechecking is overrated.

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    Architects only?

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Ok... Other than Dan.
    Frank Lloyd said only Architects are trained to plan - I think he meant trained to be able to see into the future (long range) and to understand the principles of good design.

  10. #10
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bud
    Frank Lloyd said only Architects are trained to plan - I think he meant trained to be able to see into the future (long range) and to understand the principles of good design.
    Yeah and our built environment (post 1950) certainly supports this.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    computer programs, Bill Gates,
    *Cough* *Chokle.*

    C'mon mskis. The man's a Corporate Chairman, not a programmer. And he's chairman of a company whose products a very large percentage of the people in the field hate. If you were to ask computer people who the greatest programmer is they'd be more likely to say Dennis Richie, Dan Knuth, or Rob Pike. Maybe if they're big Apple fans they'd say Steve Wozniak (but never Steve Jobs).

    Never heard of these people? That's because computer programming, like planning, is an unglamorous job where all the real bright stars are buried in an academic or corporate bureaucracy.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Downtown
    I would the that Cyburbia's Great Leader would be the obvious choice.
    Feh. I've met many planners whose knowledge, leadership abilities, interpersonal skills and/or drive left me in awe. Many are here on Cyburbia.

    I think planning is one of those professions where you'll never learn it all.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    One could argue that Andres Duany is the top planner at this moment. In any case, he seems to be getting the most press, and involved in a lot of planning activity.

    I do, however, acknowledge that planning is such a group process based activity that there is no such thing as a 'top' planner.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    *Cough* *Chokle.*

    C'mon mskis. The man's a Corporate Chairman, not a programmer. And he's chairman of a company whose products a very large percentage of the people in the field hate. If you were to ask computer people who the greatest programmer is they'd be more likely to say Dennis Richie, Dan Knuth, or Rob Pike. Maybe if they're big Apple fans they'd say Steve Wozniak (but never Steve Jobs).

    Never heard of these people? That's because computer programming, like planning, is an unglamorous job where all the real bright stars are buried in an academic or corporate bureaucracy.
    While you are correct that Bill Gates has not personally written many of the programs, it is his company that has a global domination in the computer program market. So, he must be doing something right, even if some people in the computer world hate him. But that is what makes him the top computer program guy, people have a face and a personality (granted it is overwhelmingly dry), to associate the product to.

    It is much like Warren Buffet, some of what makes him so successful in stock market is because he hires people who are smarter at one or more aspects of the market.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- Ok, by the same logic, the biggest person in planning would probably be a politician who manages to hire good planners and facilitate their recommendations. The person I think of the fastest off the top of my head is Ken Livingstone.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Off-topic:

    While you are correct that Bill Gates has not personally written many of the programs, it is his company that has a global domination in the computer program market. So, he must be doing something right, even if some people in the computer world hate him. But that is what makes him the top computer program guy, people have a face and a personality (granted it is overwhelmingly dry), to associate the product to.

    It is much like Warren Buffet, some of what makes him so successful in stock market is because he hires people who are smarter at one or more aspects of the market.
    I know what you are trying to say about Bill Gates, I think you are just saying it poorly. But, as far as actual computer programming, jordanb is right. As for Warren Buffet, I don't follow it too closely, but my understanding is that he ran a one man show from his home for many years. The fund was private and he avoided having to file certain kinds of paperwork because he kept the number of investors below some number specified by law as the cutoff between a hobbyist and a professional. (Basically, gave the finger to the law/establishment.) When the stock market began doing something he didn't comprehend, he pulled out completely and closed his fund. All of this made him so legendary that NOW there is a public fund with all the usual trappings. But he did not make his success on "hiring the right people". He did it single-handedly. (There is a story where he offered a neighbor the chance to invest with him and the guy had no clue "who" he was in terms of the stock market and turned it down, later to kick himself for it.)

  17. #17
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bdaleray
    One could argue that Andres Duany is the top planner at this moment. In any case, he seems to be getting the most press, and involved in a lot of planning activity.
    Duany is a classically trained architect. Despite that, he has a better grasp of urban design than 95% of the planners out there. However, could Duany be a good planning director, in an agency with comprehensive planners, current planning grunts, and GIS geeks? I dunno.

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    Beyond Broadacre City

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    Yeah and our built environment (post 1950) certainly supports this.
    - http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showp...0&postcount=10

    That is because most architects go (or get steered) into building design generally neglecting their responsibility in city and regional planning which is too big a problem and with no, or very little, money in it. Wright's Broadacre City Concept was his solution to the problem but he could not sell it or convince his colleagues to properly use it - I wonder why? Others say no one understood it. I think I do but it was rejected supposedly because it did not have an urban core. (It did in fact but since no one understands that why should I explain it; since there is still a better way, I believe - urban core and all.) In any case the architect's ability and responsibility to coordinate the building process should extend to the city and regional planning process as well - although it has never has, beyond what we have as you mentioned. Kevin Lynch was a Wright apprentice but admitted he did not understand BAC. I think it still deserves consideration, at least in principle. His book, The Living City may be coming back in print. It needs serious study. That is my choice, but what do I know?
    Last edited by bud; 01 Jun 2006 at 1:33 PM.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- Um, broadacre estates, or at least the parts of it that are implamentable, is exactly what we've been building for the past 50 years. That's mendleman's point. FLW was a good architect, but he was no urban visionary.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I think this thread would possibly have a lot more meaning and strength to it if specific examples and/or projects from those who are considered to be "top planners" are given. Based on the Wyckoff blurb in an earlier post, most of our careers have those characteristics.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

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    Consensus?

    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    ^-- Um, broadacre estates, or at least the parts of it that are implamentable, is exactly what we've been building for the past 50 years. That's mendleman's point. FLW was a good architect, but he was no urban visionary.
    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showp...2&postcount=19

    That is the general consensus but I would say it is woefully misinformed. His thesis on city planning needs serious study. I would be glad to teach a course on his ideas in city planning, if someone wants me too. No part of BAC can be taken out of context. It is the principle that must be understood, first. Everything, each part, will find its proper place, then.

    An architect can be no better than their client. Implementation is a political problem; what we have now is only as good as our elected officials - they who have the power, do not know how to build it; they who know how, do not have the power. That is why political scientists are needed in the planning department along with civil engineers, landscape architects, and geographers, urban planners, and others involved in the process but their work must be properly coordinated. That is what the architect is trained to do. If those who have the power will take advantage of that, then they are wise and everyone is the winner.
    Last edited by bud; 01 Jun 2006 at 5:03 PM.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Planning is way too diverse of a field and has some much regional flavor that I would not even attempt to identify the "GREATEST" Planner. Greatest at what -- urban design, impact fees, political consensus, urban economics, landscape preservation, etc... etc... etc...
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  23. #23
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    My gut response would be that you cannot list a greatest living planner. Many of the results from planners' work do not fully manifest themselves often until decades have passed.

    I do think you can list planning "movie stars" that just have high profiles, but their results aren't necessarily fully understood. There was a time when planners recommended destroying huge areas in downtowns for the sake of "urban renewal" and were hailed for it at the time. Now many view that as a dark age for our profession. We haven't always been about pedestrian oriented development, street connectivity, downtown renewal, mass transit, new urbanism, etc. -- I think we sometimes we forget that.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  24. #24
    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Duany is a classically trained architect. Despite that, he has a better grasp of urban design than 95% of the planners out there. However, could Duany be a good planning director, in an agency with comprehensive planners, current planning grunts, and GIS geeks? I dunno.
    Their firm just rewrote the zoning codes for Miami so I think that qualifies him. It might be worth asking whether those comprehensive planners, grunts and geeks do anything useful.

    What qualifies someone as great is having a great vision and getting it done. Duany has to be the top contender.

    By the way Duany was not classically trained. He went to Modernist school and started the firm Architectoniqua before changing his professional focus.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Ed Bacon of Philadelphia has received heaps of praise over the course of his career and got a a nice memorial from the APA when he passed away last year.

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