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Thread: Questions, Questions, about GIS, CAD, and Urban Design

  1. #1
    Jul 2006

    Questions, Questions, about GIS, CAD, and Urban Design

    Sorry i meant to post this as an orignal post not as a reply for the other thread, but here it goes:

    Okay so I am at DePaul right now, and I am majoring in Geography with a concentration on Metropolitain Planning and Development. I want to go to Grad school for Urban Planning with an emphasis on Urban Design. Now after doing some research here are some questions I am wondering if they can be answered. Any help would be greatly appreciated it!

    1. Some schools offer seperate Masters. One master is specifically in Urban Planning, and the other Masters is in Urban Design. Let's say I chose Urban Design, how would that affect me in terms of, would I still be an Urban Planner? I ask this because some schools seem to offer Urban Planning with a concentration in Urban Design, and some other schools offer them seperately. What's the deal with that? Are Urban designers something completely different?

    2. I want to learn CAD, and as far as I am aware, it stands for Computer Aided Design. I have a ton of electives to fill but DePaul has something called Computer Applied Design with three courses in it. Is it the same thing as CAD? It seems to me it is. If it is how many courses should I take in it? How many courses are recommended?

    3. When I go for my Master's i will be GIS certifited and depending on your answers from above, possibly CAD certified (if one does get certified for that). Knowing GIS and knowing CAD before grad school, will it shed time off of Grad school? I ask this, because I know most schools only offer a Master's in Urban Planning and not a Bachelor's so I am assuming that most Urban Planners learn GIS in grad school.

    4. How much money on average to Urban Planners, that specifiaclly concentrate in Urban Design make? I don't want an exact number, but it would be nice to now a range, like in the 50's or 60's?

    Thanks all help is much apperciated!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    A few answers to your Q's

    1. Urban Design is a more specific aspect of planning. Urban Designers come from many different backgrounds, including Architecture and Landscape Architecture and, of course, Planning. Within Planning, these people will likely have experience in physical planning (that is, dealing with the built aspects of the environment like roads, infrastructure, massing and placement of buildings, etc.).

    Planning, though, is a very diverse field. Planners may deal with economic development, policy analysis, zoning enforcement, community development (which often deals with things like housing), transportation, etc. Planners may be intimately involved with people, say, as a facilitator in drafting a long range area plan, or squirreled away from the public while analyzing census data or developing zoning or road width standards. You might also be at a service desk, explaining various requirements to the general public. It all depends on what element of planning interests you.

    My personal impression is that the number of jobs out there geared specifically toward Urban Design is not that high. This is what many creative people would like to do (and so there is a lot of competition from architects, landscape architects, etc. for a limited number of jobs). This is because, typically, planners establish the allowable building parameters for a specific place (say, a business district or residential subdivision) in an attempt to create the conditions for a particular "feel" (setbacks, height and step back requirements, limits on allowable uses, parking requirements, open space requirements, etc.) and it is the developers and architects who often end up proposing the specific form new construction will take when they are proposing a project.

    2. I expect "Computer Applied Design" probably covers a number of software packages that might be used in assembling a final product, but without seeing a course description, its anybody's guess. This might include things like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. but who really knows. You might ask...

    As for CAD, I don't personally think it is all that necessary, though interesting. In urban design, you are unlikely to be presenting the kind of detail CAD is good for. You are usually proposing general massing and locations of buildings to generate a desired "feel" for a targeted area and this is easily accomplished with something like Sketchup (now free from Google - its very cool and fast!), or even creating collages with photoshop (I have used this very successfully in taking photos of specific places and then dropping in buildings and spaces).

    Know also that the kind of job you are likely to get if you emphasize CAD or AutoCAD skills may be what is affectionately known as a "CAD Monkey." Which is to say you may spend a great many hours assembling highly detailed drawings of, say, storm drainage systems. In a private planning/landscape architecture firm I worked for, this is what the AutoCAD people did and they ended up working more for the LAs than the Planners.

    There is also this thing called "drawing" which is much cheaper and, in my opinion, often more attractive

    3. I doubt any planning grad school will take credit from previous certifications or skills. They want you to go through their program and take their courses because they have developed it in a way that addresses their vision of what planning should be. Its worth a shot, I suppose, but don't count on it...

    4. You can check out the American Planning Association's website: http://www.planning.org and go to the jobs area where there are results of a recent planner's survey. It has salaries broken out by region and many other factors.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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