So here I find myself wrapping up my second planning internship and it's got me thinking about urban design. Between my two internships and my coursework (current MURP student with urban design/transportation focus) I've been lucky enough to work on urban design projects ranging from bike/ped projects, to trail systems, to brownfield site infill. I've found that I really like it. I love puzzling out the optimal physical design of developments and transportation infrastructure. I'm also getting really heavily into all of the software for modeling and architectural rendering. I just love the power of photo-realistic images of proposed design.
I've picked the brains of just about every practicing planner and landscape architect I could find and they mostly have this to say: "Planners plan. Architects and Landscape Architects design. If you want to design--go become one of the latter"
They also add (if they are private sector folks), that a planner's opinion regarding any particular design, regardless of how acute it might be, is basically ignored my the architects, landscape architects, and engineers at any given firm. (ie "Get back to your cube, Buddy. If we have a question about zoning or LIHTC--we'll call you.)
So, long story short, if I were to get myself a second masters, Which would be the best to position myself as an Urban Designer? I don't want to design parks or do ecological restoration (and shrubberies--ha!) --likewise I have no interest in designing one individual building from top to bottom inside and out.
But don't get me wrong. I love all the core parts of the planning profession. Comp plans, land use plans, and progressive code are all happening things. I just want to want to have my options open to design things...not spend a career looking over shoulders and wishing I could throw my hat in the ring but not be able to for lack of the right degree (and license, really)