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Thread: Rebuilding Suburbia

  1. #1

    Rebuilding Suburbia

    Hi all,

    My interest in urban planning stems from a desire to rebuild today's suburbs to have a greater social vibrancy. I want to do this in the private sector through masterplanning communities and working with homebuilders to create floorplans that entice people outwards towards the front of their homes onto porches and front yards. I have noticed todays urban form discourages front yard activity and pushes it to the backyard or not outside at all with the inconvenience of walk-out basements etc. Besides working with homebuilders, I want to work with governments to encourage working with them to build public infrastructure internally in these masterplanned suburban communities and work with all parties from the ground up to create better, more attractice suburbs.

    Is a master in urban planning right for me?

  2. #2
    *attractive!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,802
    I want to do this in the private sector through master planning communities

    You sound like you are more interested in site design (with some architectural training). Master planning communities is usually done by landscape architects (and some architects). I have done it as a planner but I also have some architectural training and have worked with landscape architects for several years.

    Create floor plans that entice people outwards towards the front of their homes onto porches and front yards.

    I would enroll in a few elective courses in architecture to understand the basics of floor plans, massing, etc. Since you ultimately want to use floor plans at the conceptual level, you don't need the heavy technical training of an architectural degree.

    Besides working with homebuilders, I want to work with governments to encourage working with them to build public infrastructure internally in these master planned suburban communities and work with all parties from the ground up to create better, more attract ice suburbs. .

    I think you might be confusing the terms infrastructure and amenities. Infrastructure are the components needed to keep the development humming from day to day: roads, utilities (electrical, sewer, water), sidewalks, stop signs. Amenities, such as parks and open space, schools, shopping districts, churches, etc. bring added value to these developments.

    A municipality may include several master planned "communities." These are often called planned unit developments (PUDs). Some PUDs are nothing more than single-family residential whereas others might be a mixture of housing types, a mixed use (residential, commercial, office, etc.) or even non-residential (industrial parks, larger retail commercial with out lots, etc.). Municipalities will provide the infrastructure regardless (who pays and maintains the infrastructure is a whole different topic).

    If you are interested in convincing municipalities to provide certain desirable amenities in a master planned community, you want to be a planner.

    So what's a good route to consider? I would work towards a dual degree in landscape architecture and urban planning, with a several electives in architectural technology through an architecture program. Based on your post, I don’t' think you need an architectural degree. You could either work on a 5 BLA + 2 year MUP or a 4 year dual masters MUP/MLA. Yes, this IS a lot of school, but designers typically require more advanced technical training (unless you can teach yourself and make the right connections).

    Keep in mind, with all of this school there is still no guarantee how development will play out in a few years. I err on the conservative side and think that master planned communities won't come back for at least another 2-5 years. Be prepared to have a backup plan (even if it has nothing to do with design or planning) in case things don't work out (see previous posts).

    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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