August 26, 2014

Designing your Urban Design Team

The city of Charlottesville recognizes a need for expertise in landscape architecture in the Department of Neighborhood Development Services. They recently hired three planners with a landscape architecture background to focus on urban planning and design. According to a recent article on Charlottesville’s first urban designer, these staff members will “help facilitate, design and execute some of [the city’s] major transportation and land-use projects.” Other localities may be exploring the need for similar experience on staff and can benefit from the insight of Jim Tolbert, director of Charlottesville’s Neighborhood Development Services.

These planners will bring a new vantage point to the seasoned team. “We have known for some time that  we wanted to have planning expertise with a design background.  For many years, all of our planners have come from programs with a policy bias rather than design.  As a community concerned with issues related to urban development like walkability, better street life, biking, etc.  it just seemed to us that having folks on staff with a design background would enhance our staff and our ability to lead development,” said Tolbert.

The city’s governing body showed a growing interest in urban planning. “We realized that the need was more urgent when the mayor and council appointed a new urban design committee,“ Tolbert said. “With their interest in so many issues, we needed someone who could relate and work closely with them.”

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