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Thread: Whats the difference between urban design and urban planning?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Whats the difference between urban design and urban planning?

    Whats the difference between Urban Design and Urban Planning?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I work as both an urban planner and an urban designer. I have included either entire threads on the subject or just cropped down to one response (for the latter click on the thread button at the top to get the whole conversation). I am sure others can offer wonderful insight. You may also want to seriously consider going for a dual degree with architecture and landscape architecture. It will make you much for versatile as a designer (and you can always always always take urban design courses/studios either as a concentration or an elective). Please check out the work on www.land8lounge.com. I think it may be up your alley. Also check out the Planning and Landscape Architecture group: I go into depth about the relationship between LA/site design and planning, as well as how it connects to architecture.

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showp...64&postcount=2

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showp...95&postcount=2

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...t=urban+design

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showp...88&postcount=6

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showp...01&postcount=3

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...219#post369219

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...t=urban+design

    Keep in mind, some of these posts are a couple of years old and they do not reflect the current state of the economy. I think it's going to be several years (at least 5) before construction significantly picks up to where we are doing more work.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I have been seriously considering going for the dual degree with architecture... I thought you were one of the people that told me it was foolish and a waste of time though... I have been told by a bunch of people that this was a stupid move but I honestly thought it would, like you said, make me more versatile and give me a better understanding and more design experience in the field... I want to deal more with the design aspect of planning... I know this might be a little far fetched but I want to design communities to be self sustaining and to promote smart growth... I dont want to deal so much with the zoning, legal, policy aspects of planning (even though I am sure I will have to which I am fine with) I want to deal with creating and designing how these communities should be built... I apperciate the advice

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Robbins View post
    I have been seriously considering going for the dual degree with architecture... I thought you were one of the people that told me it was foolish and a waste of time though... I have been told by a bunch of people that this was a stupid move but I honestly thought it would, like you said, make me more versatile and give me a better understanding and more design experience in the field... I want to deal more with the design aspect of planning... I know this might be a little far fetched but I want to design communities to be self sustaining and to promote smart growth... I dont want to deal so much with the zoning, legal, policy aspects of planning (even though I am sure I will have to which I am fine with) I want to deal with creating and designing how these communities should be built... I apperciate the advice
    There are a few reasons why people might be telling you this is a bad idea:

    1. Read the newspapers!! Construction is at a standstill. Yes, there are a couple of projects currently underway, but for the most part, no one is building. We will pull ourselves out of the recession, but keep in mind, new construction is at the very end of the recovery. Businesses have to re-structure or re-organize, jobs need to be re-created (if they aren't lost for good, but that's a whole different debate), then the businesses outgrow their old space so they move to something larger (probably something thats already existing). But it will take YEARS before those businesses are big enough and rich enough to buy up new land to expand. There are also plenty of unsold houses, foreclosed homes, partially built homes, improved lots (with utility hookups) that are waiting to be occupied. Communities are going to be very VERY hesitant to approve new development anytime soon (with the exception of maybe some conservation subdivisions and TODs because these have added value).
    2. No one doubts that you would be a versatile worker with multiple degrees. The big question goes back to #1: will there be enough work for you to keep you gainfully employed. You say you want to change the world through better design, right? Do you think you are the first person to ever think this? There are plenty of working professionals with more years of experience than you and I combined who are struggling to land those projects.
    3. So you finally decide to go with your gut, rack up a few more degrees and certificates, beg on your hands and knees for an unpaid internship or two, and get a barebones draftsman job as a designer, hoping to god you can make ends meet. But hey, you're a designer right? You wanted to change the world. Well, you are starting at rock bottom like everyone else. Fortuantely, you get to design a subdivision, which is better than the porta potty the guy in the next cubicle has to work with. You come up with some great ideas, only your boss wants larger lots and less open space. Wait a minute. You know there are better designs with less pavement, smaller lots, and more open space. You give him the same canned speach about sustainability and smart growth that he has secretly heard regurgiated to him for the past decade. He tells you that design won't work. It's not that he has anything against it, but he has other people to answer to. You can't design too many bikepaths because one of the plan commissioners doesn't like all of the bikers "in his back yard". And then after you put a few allnighters on some boards for the big meeting with the developer, the budgets been slashed in half because the enviornmental permits are backlogged and are racking up a ton of money in mitigation work. Now you have to make up for this lost billable time by doing the impossible and retroactively finding other billable work to make yourself look productive this week (even though you have been putting in the long hours on this subdivision design all this time). Your boss and your boss' boss redline the crap out your plan until your stuck designing what looks like an army barracks instead of that cute little new urbanist design you refined so much in school. The plotter breaks down, you race to the nearest printers shop, and it goes in front of the developer. They like your work, but unfortunately you will have to re-design the whole plan for tomorrow's plan commission meeting. You do the impossible, spend another 24 hours cranking out the plan, with literally minutes to spare you have it mounted on boards for the 7pm plan commission meeting, the plan commissioner (you know, the one who hates bikes) nearly has a heart attack that you put one bike path in. He gets angry at the developer, who gets angry at your firm. The developer decides to team up with YOUR competitor because they need to save face. Your firm looses money, has to lay off staff, and why?!!!!...because you drew one little bike path.

    Some of this is a tad exaggerated, but not by much. Plenty of students go through with design school thinking they are going to change the world overnight. Fortunately, I worked a ton of internships through college to put me back in my place and I learned before I even started my first full time as a designer that you often take baby steps. Yes, being in the right place at the right time helps tremendously. But you will have to put in the long hours at SLOWLY build up your reputation. Can you really change the world. Sure, but the media and even our professional associations paint false pictures about the dream job of a designer. It is as much work networking and bridge connecting as it is design work. The people at the top of the huge firms (Sasaki, EDAW (or whatever it's called now), Gensler, etc.) don't do any design work, despite their pedigree Ivy degrees and years of project management experience. At that level, they are the face of the firm, and are responsbile for building connections with uber-powerful existing/potential clients as well as answering to share-holders (employed-owned or publicly-traded conglomerates).

    I am saying going to architecture school right now is a bad idea (as I mentioned in my last post, many of those archived posts were written 1-2 years ago). We have absolutely no idea how this recession coupled with a massive trillion dollar deficit will play out long term. When this industry does recover how will it look? Will be nearly the same as it was 2,3,4 years ago? Probably not. And even if we do go through a boom, how long will it last? 5,6,7 years? Do you really want to ride a roller coaster for your entire career? Yeah, you might time it just right by going back to school now and hedging your bets that there will be good paying jobs when you finish school (good paying=working wages, not the huge salaries you were predicting).

    4. What is your personally history of decision-making? Have you flipped back and fourth between careers? Do you stay focused? Have you put in long hours on projects so far, or are you a goof-off. Your ability to work under serious pressure also plays a big role in how other people perceive you. You don't have a portfolio, but do you have samples of work that demonstrates your artistic or creative abilities? If not, people are going to say you probably don't have what it takes to be an architect. BTW, are these "people" architects? planners? or your friends, family, classmates?
    Last edited by nrschmid; 28 May 2009 at 4:38 PM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
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    New City
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    nrschmid if this whole planning thing doesnt work out for you, I think you definitely have what it takes to be a motivational speaker... honestly your right though, and I know hearing the "devils advocate" side of what I want to do is helpful in making my decision... I am taking the year off because I cant apply to architecture school now anyway... I plan on trying to find a descent "wage" paying job to pay for my undergraduate loans, work on a portfolio, study for the GRE's, and reevaluate what is the best move to make in these shaky economic times... maybe getting an MBA is the best move, I will use this time wisely and try and make the most informed and educated decision I can... as discouraging and depressing as you make it sound I appreciate the feed back, thanks

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
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    That little "story" was just to help you keep things in perspective. That is just a smattering of stuff that could potentially happen on the job, although carried to extemes. You have been lead to believe that you can go to any school, regardless of its quality, earn a design degree, graduate, go to top projects, and make a ton of money. And while there is nothing wrong with thinking big, I had to step in and bring you back to earth. I encourage you to go after a design degree if that is what you really want to do. However, as we have all said you need to do it with caution. It's not so much about working hard but working smart. Spend as much time as you can earning face time with professionals in either architecture, design, or any other field you plan on going for school.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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