Three Student Projects Win Michigan Association of Planning Top Honors

Three Taubman College urban and regional planning capstone studio teams recently received honors from the Michigan Association of Planning, the Michigan Chapter of the American Planning Association. They tied for the Outstanding Graduate Student Project Award as part of the 2021 Planning Excellence Awards.

With the three winners for 2021, Taubman College student teams have won the Outstanding Graduate Student Project Award 12 of the past 14 years. The 2021 winning teams represent work on behalf of clients in Detroit, India, and Colombia and cover topics ranging from climate change to the economic impact of microbreweries — demonstrating the global connections and diverse lenses of study that urban and regional planning students at the University of Michigan enjoy.

The capstone studio is the culminating learning experience in the final semester of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program. These client-based, collaborative planning experiences mirror actual practice and uniquely focus on the needs of a community partner or client. Capstones provide an active learning experience for students in which they address timely and relevant planning problems, engage with actual clients, and experience a professional work setting with the support of faculty. In addition, capstones provide important assistance for local governments and nongovernmental community development groups, helping them tangibly advance their mission or address a pressing planning problem that speaks to issues of social justice and sustainability.

The award-winning projects and teams are:

Accelerating Climate Action in Colombia & India

This project focuses on the importance of territorial planning instruments and multi-level governance to promote low emissions urban development and ensure that vulnerable communities adapt to climate change and flourish. Through the application of the Law and Climate Change Toolkit, students identified opportunities for strengthening the connections between urban planning and climate change law at the national, sub-national, and regional and local levels — in partnership with the United Nations. This capstone section collaborated with Taubman College architecture and urban design students on the India component, developing alternate redevelopment schemes for Jyoti Nagar in Jaipur together with district and state level policy assessments.

View more of this project at UN-Habitat and University of Michigan assess Colombia’s legal and policy frameworks.

Faculty advisers: Ana Paula Pimentel Walker and María Arquero de Alarcón
Student team (M.U.R.P.): Keyana Aghamirzadeh, Pierre Bagenda, Tom Bagley, Neeli Kakal, Clare Kucera, Michelle Lincoln, Anna Thompson, James Vansteel, Beatrix Yan, and Jessica Yelk
Additional student team members for the India component (Propositions studio): Kevin Bechard, M.Arch; Autumn Bender, M.Arch;  Shandra Bernath-Plaisted, M.Arch; Isabelle Borie, M.Arch, RE Cert.; Kassem Chammout, M.Arch; Sarah Jammal, M.U.D., M.U.R.P.; Aracely Landero, M.Arch; Talia Moretti, M.Arch; Anmol Poptani, M.U.D.; Huiting Qian, M.U.D.; Sydney Strawser, M.Arch; and Danielle Weitzman, M.Arch.

Envisioning a Decentralized Compost System for Detroit

This project builds upon efforts led by the nonprofit FoodPLUS|Detroit to explore the context for establishing a citywide, community-scaled, decentralized compost network in Detroit through discussions with stakeholders and site observations, a review of best practices, interviews with national and local composting leaders, and analyses of spatial and economic scenarios. Short- and long-term recommendations suggest ways that community engagement, local and state policy change, and partnership building can shift the narrative of waste management to resource recovery while establishing greener neighborhoods, building healthier soils, reducing stormwater runoff, creating local jobs, and empowering communities. Read the project.

Project team: Sean Burnett, David DeBoskey, Michael Friese, Emily Korman, Megan Rigney, Anikka Van Eyl, Keerthana Vidyasagar, and Meixin Yuan
Faculty advisers: Lesli Hoey and Eric Dueweke

Tapping Economic Potential: The Impact of Microbreweries in Michigan

This project explored whether Michigan’s microbreweries have a positive economic impact in the neighborhoods and local areas in which they are located by studying the communities of Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Bellaire. The team’s data analysis focuses on three categorical indicators of economic growth: business change, employment change, and sales volume change of all Michigan microbreweries using a statistical analysis of these three variables at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 year intervals after a brewery opens at a 0.25, 0.5, and 1.0 miles radius around the brewery. All but two comparisons showed a statistically significant positive impact of microbreweries on business change. The results showed a more muted impact on employment change. The team then recommended several regulatory, policy, and cultural approaches to ensure a seamless experience for consumers (both residents and tourists) that build off the existing landscape and culture of public and private spaces and the business within (including microbreweries). Read the project.

Project team, aka “The Microbrew Crew”: Rowan Brady, Cassie Byerly, and Carly Keough
Faculty adviser: Scott Campbell