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Physical Planning and Design Focus Area

“Each generation writes its own biography in the cities it creates.”
— Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities

What will our cities say about this generation? While technology has allowed us to create virtual worlds of interaction, our collective need for memorable places, meaningful communities, and ecologically appropriate settlements has never been greater. The purpose of this focus area is to enable planning students to contribute to the design, function, and sustainability of our communities. The focus area consists of a combination of lecture and studio courses. In the studio classes, students propose change on real sites with real clients, considering a myriad of constraints. Through these courses taken altogether, students undertake activities that require them to:

  1. Visualize scale, density, and the physical dimensions of different built structures, transportation systems, and infrastructure requirements;
  2. Create and critique physical master plans with regards to their contextual appropriateness (from diverse perspectives that include aesthetics, function, inclusion, and environment);
  3. Understand how different design philosophies and traditions have influenced form, configuration, and the distribution of uses and users;
  4. Recognize how development and real estate influence the products and processes of urban design; and
  5. Respect present and future inhabitants of the neighborhoods we hope to build and recognize how meaningful community participation can enhance their design.

Classes in this focus area include lectures, seminars, field trips, and studios. 

Focus Area Course List

Foundational / Techniques / Methods Courses  

URP 501 Planning History and Theory (Physical Planning and Design Focus)
URP 550 Planning Representation and Communication
URP 551 Physical Planning and Design Workshop

Recommended Electives 

URP 531 The Social Life of Public Spaces
URP 552 Healthy Cities: Policy and Design
URP 553 Sustainable Urbanism and Architecture
URP 554 Liquid Planning
URP 555 Architect/Planner as Developer

Other Related Courses 

URP 520 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
URP 521 Intermediate Geographic Information Systems
URP 529 History of Urban Form
URP 530 American Planning 1900-2000
URP 532 Sustainability and Social Change
URP 540 Land Use Planning and Development Management
URP 541 Urban Land Use Planning
URP 542 Environmental Planning
URP 544 Behavior and Environment (NRE 560)
URP 582 Neighborhood Planning
URP 591 Financing Real Estate Development
URP 592 Real Estate Essentials
ARCH 506 Theorizing Place
ARCH 563 Colonial/Post-Colonial Architecture and Urbanism
EAS 605 Green Development (BA 605)
CEE 532 Construction Management and Project Engineering

Additional Opportunities for Students in the Physical Planning and Urban Design Focus Area

Hines Competition
Sponsored by the Urban Land Institute, this annual project engages multidisciplinary student teams in proposing development concepts and financing. This project occurs in late January/early February each year. Team organization begins in the fall.

Post-professional Master of Urban Design
Students who want greater depth in urban design can apply for admission to the Urban Design Program after completing their M.U.R.P. degree.

Dual Degree in M.Arch/M.U.R.P. Urban and Regional Planning Program
Students who want much greater depth in architecture and structures can apply for admission to the Architecture Program and the dual degree program between Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning. 

Dual Degree in M.U.R.P./M.U.D. Urban and Regional Planning Program
Students who want much greater depth in urban design can apply for admission to the Architecture Program and the dual degree program between Urban Design and Urban and Regional Planning. 

Student-Initiated Dual Degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) and M.U.R.P.
Students who are interested in site planning and design at a range of scale that consider the built and natural environment may apply for admission to the School of Natural Resources and Environment for admission to the Landscape Architecture Program (three year graduate program).

Real Estate Development Certificate
Design and development are closely intertwined. Students in the physical planning and design concentration will be encouraged to consider earning the real estate certificate in addition to the M.U.R.P. 

Faculty associated with the Physical Planning and Design focus area

Larissa Larsen (Focus Area Coordinator)
Maria Arquero de Alarcon
Robert Fishman
Douglas Kelbaugh
Kimberley Kinder
Kit McCullough (Architecture)
Roy Strickland (Architecture)
Paul Fontaine (Lecturer)