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Thought Leadership


New advances in Planning + Urban Design

Making cities is oftentimes portrayed as a tightly controlled, top-down process with well-defined, solvable problems: what is the best density;  how many acres of green space do we need; what will it cost and who pays?  These well-intentioned questions presume that planning and urban design follows tried-and-tested recipes from a professional cookbook.  In practice, creating effective places, whether a big city or a small park, requires unique ingredients, using customized recipes, constrained by the resources on hand. 

Our Planning + Urban Design team engages these opportunities everyday though a process that integrates collective visions with technical pragmatism. With every project we also discover new “inroads” that can make communities economically stronger, resilient, healthier, and socially just.  This  page offers some recent “inroads” that we found the hard way, through a cycle of thinking, planning, making, and thinking again.

What challenge or opportunity would you like us to tackle?

Resurgent Streets – After the Pandemic

Resurgent Streets – After the Pandemic Can we make streets greater than before? When the pandemic ends, our streets will experience a social explosion. After months of social isolation and pent-up energy, we can expect a grand revival of all our public spaces. This revival will be obvious in dense metro downtowns that are designed…

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Reframing The Last Mile Dilemma

Reframing The Last Mile Dilemma The “last mile” may not be the last problem For years analysts have decried the “last mile” as the key missing transportation link between employees in urban areas and jobs in sprawling suburbs, located beyond the reach of public transit. Employees cannot access these job opportunities without a car that…

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Navigating the Urban Waterfront

Navigating the Urban Waterfront What is the Value of an Urban Shoreline? Many communities debate the future of their public waterfronts – some want large marinas while others want quiet woodlands. Disagreement about views and easements associated with waterfront development abound. While most communities prioritize parks and public places on the waterfront, there is still…

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Let’s Stop “Isolating” Sustainability!

Let’s Stop “Isolating” Sustainability! Does “Sustainability” Have a Bottom Line? Most comprehensive plans isolate “sustainability” as a separate category and focus almost exclusively on the natural environment as the bottom line.  In practice, planners need to stop “isolating” sustainability as a separate planning issue and ensure consideration of three interlocked components: environmental protection, economic vitality,…

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