Tech women with Rat caps in 1952

History

History

The School of City and Regional Planning has a rich history, dating back to 1952 when planning instruction first began at Georgia Tech.

The Early Years

The early years of planning instruction at Tech, beginning in 1952, were characterized by frequent practitioner and policy-maker lectures, a program advisory committee that included noted developers and civic leaders, and regular studio projects in which students engaged the issues of the region. The Georgia Power Company was a backer of early projects, motivated by its concern for rural growth in its service area.

Early graduates often became planning directors of small and medium-sized cities in Georgia and neighboring states, while others joined consultancies or staffs at state planning boards across the South, or with national planning organizations such as the American Society of Planning Officials.

Tech faculty were responsible for drafting Georgia’s General Planning and Zoning Enabling Act, writing A Planning Manual for Community Development (Georgia’s basic community planning manual), and organized an annual Summer Institute in City Planning that offered continuing education to planners throughout the South.

Pushed by Atlanta’s civic leadership, Georgia Tech set about to create a Graduate City Planning Program in 1950, bringing Howard Menhinick to Atlanta from the Tennessee Valley Authority to become Regents Professor and the first Program Director.

Menhinick had been the editor of Planners Journal and Director of the United Nations Headquarters planning staff as well as Director of Regional Studies for TVA. With grant support from the Rockefeller Foundation, he welcomed the charter incoming class of ten students in 1952.

Menhinick and his early colleagues, including Malcolm Little who joined the faculty in 1953, sought to pioneer an integrative planning curriculum drawing on the design professions, social sciences, and law aimed at educating generalist planners who would work in land use and regional resource development. 

The first female graduate of the Program, Thera Richter (MCP ’59), was also the first woman to earn any graduate degree at Georgia Tech.

1960s and 1970s

In the 1960s the generalist planner model gave way to the introduction of specializations in the core curriculum and dual degree programs. A joint degree in the field of transportation planning was developed in 1962 with the School of Civil Engineering and another in urban design in 1968 with the Architecture Program.

Improving analytical capabilities were a focus of the late 60s and 70s, led by Anthony Catanese’s teaching. Research clients in the heady planning days of the 1970s included Atlanta’s new MARTA rapid transit system, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, General Dynamics Corporation, and a long list of Georgia state agencies and local governments.

Arthur Campbell (MCP ’70) was the first African-American graduate.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Tech's city planning graduates were widely sought after in municipal and regional planning agencies across the South. The era was capped by a Malcolm G. Little Roast and Testimonial Dinner held in mid-town Atlanta’s Biltmore Hotel in May 1978.

1980s

By the early 1980s, the core curriculum focused on theory, history, scientific methods, and law; and students were asked to concentrate on either development or redevelopment. Reagan-Thatcher era government retrenchment, combined with spiraling interest rates, challenged enrollments and contract funding with the result that when David Sawicki arrived as Program Director in 1983, his mandate was to reshape the Program toward increased scholarship and expanded extramural funding.

Sawicki brought a microcomputer with him, the first in the Program, and soon had microcomputers on every faculty desk and available to students.

The core was reorganized emphasizing regional theory and methods and the specialization list expanded to include transportation, urban development and redevelopment, land use and environment, economic development, and urban design.

A concentration in city planning was started as part of the new College of Architecture (now College of Design) Ph.D. program. The Journal of the American Planning Association’s Planners Notebook section editorship moved to Tech. Many faculty departures and arrivals occurred in these transitional years with the result that by 1988 all ten full-time faculty held doctoral degrees.

1990s

The 1990s program retained the original concept of providing a broad, comprehensive planning education with the technical skills necessary to accomplish a wide range of tasks.

Steven French arrived as the Program’s fifth director, and city planner Tom Galloway began as the College of Architecture’s (now College of Design's) third dean. The roster of specializations was redefined to include community and land development, economic development, environmental planning, geographic information systems, land use, transportation and urban design.

New dual degree programs were instituted with environmental management, law, public policy, and water resources. The law dual degree partnered with Georgia State University. New graduate certificate programs in historic preservation and real estate development also partnered with GSU.

An undergraduate land development certificate was created to promote interest in the planning profession and to build an understanding of planning concepts among future architects, engineers, and others.

Tech faculty became leaders in developing applications of the new geographic information systems technology for planning, leading to the creation of a Center for GIS with a dual mission of state service and technological innovation.

Student recruitment broadened both geographically and demographically. Tech formalized a Co-op Work-Study Program through which many planning students gained real-world experience applying classroom learning as well as earning financial aid.

Tech’s graduates were included in planning faculties including the universities of California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Florida State and Virginia Tech.

By the end of the decade, the Program was widely recognized as a significant national generator of new ideas for planning practice and scholarship.

2000s

In the 2000s, under the leadership of Director Cheryl Contant, the Program re-conceptualized its work as promoting sustainable cities and regional planning and development. The Program and master’s degree names were changed to City and Regional Planning.

With endowment funds created to honor retiring Atlanta Regional Commission chief planner Harry West, a Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development and a named professorship were created. Catherine Ross, returning from her position as Executive Director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, was named Director of the Center and the first Harry West Professor.

In 2003, 300 alumni and friends returned to Tech to celebrate the Program’s 50th anniversary. As part of the celebration, Larry Keating, Professor Emeritus, wrote a comprehensive 35-year history, “Georgia Institute of Technology Graduate Program in City and Regional Planning: The First 35 Years." 

A Healthy Places Research Group was formed involving faculty and practitioners from City and Regional Planning, other Tech units, Emory University’s Public Health School, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In 2005, David Sawicki was named editor of the Journal of the American Planning Association.

In 2007, Planetizen, a commercial website/publisher focused on urban planning, released the results of its first reputational survey of planning programs, naming Georgia Tech 10th nationally among U.S. planning schools.

2010s

In 2010, Georgia Tech established the School of City and Regional Planning by bringing together the Master of City and Regional Planning Program and the recently approved City and Regional Planning Ph.D. program. Students previously enrolled in the College of Architecture Ph.D. program in City Planning were transferred to the new Ph.D. program within the school.

In 2011, Planetizen ranked Georgia Tech 8th in the nation among U.S. planning schools, and the editorship of the JPER moved to Tech under Subhrajit Guhathakurta and Nancey Green Leigh.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation designated a National Center for Transportation System Productivity and Management at Georgia Tech. New degree programs in Geographic Information Science Technology and Urban Design enrolled their first students.

In 2014, Tech was ranked 5th in the U.S. by Planetizen. In 2017, Tech was, for the third time in a row, ranked in the top ten planning schools in the nation, coming in at number 7.

In 2018, Bruce Stiftel, FAICP, retired after 10 years of service as the chair of the School of City and Regional Planning. Subhrajit Guhathakurta became the second chair of the School of City and Regional Planning effective July 1, 2018.  

In Memorium

Douglas Allen, FASLA, 1947-2014

Douglas C. Allen served Georgia Tech as a professor and administrator from 1977 until his death in 2014.  While his formal appointment was in the Architecture Program (later the School of Architecture), his courses were heavily subscribed by city and regional planning students and he served on many city and regional planning student supervisory committees.   Allen’s History of Urban Design course is often cited by city planning alumni as among the most influential courses they completed at Tech. 

Harry West, 1941-2014

Harry West served as Professor of Practice in the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) from 2005 until his death in 2014.  Prior to joining the Tech faculty, he had more than 48 years experience managing and planning public projects and reviewing private development proposals. Early in his career, Mr. West was the County Manager of Fulton County, Georgia’s largest and most diverse county as well as home to the City of Atlanta. Major public works projects, capital improvement budgets and bond funds were a part of his responsibility.

Jamie Cochran, FAICP, 1953-2019

Over her 45-year career, Jamie accomplished many achievements. She was exceptionally proud of becoming a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP) in 2016. Jamie spent her career in Florida and Georgia in both private and public sectors. While maintaining a full-time job, she also taught as an adjunct professor at Georgia Tech in her “spare time.” 

1950 - Harold Bush-Brown (Director of the College of Architecture, now College of Design), together with John Gaus (Director of City Planning, Harvard University), Frederick J. Adams (Director of City Planning, M.I.T.), and Howard Menhinick (Director of Regional Studies, Tennessee Valley Authority) meet to recommend the establishment of a city planning program at Georgia Tech.

1951 - Georgia Tech receives $251,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to start the City Planning Program; Howard Menhenick is hired as the first Graduate City Planning Program Director.

1952 - The City Planning Program welcomes its first class of ten students in the Fall of 1952.

1954 - The Student Planning Society is founded.

1955 - W.R. Gable becomes first Ph.D. recipient on the city planning faculty.

1959 - Thera H. Richter becomes first female MCP graduate and the first female to graduate with a master’s degree from Georgia Tech.

1962 - A joint degree was established in Transportation Planning (with Civil Engineering).

1964 - Georgia Tech receives $100,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Charitable Trust and $120,000 in the following year for program funding.

1965 - Malcolm Little (MCP MIT ’47) becomes second Program Director.

1968 - A joint degree was established in Urban Design (with Architecture program). Howard Menhinick retires and is awarded the American Institute of Planners’ Distinguished Service Award.

1969 - MCP Program is recognized by the National Education Committee of the American Institute of Planners.

1970 - City Planning moves to the Old Civil Engineering Building. Arthur Campbell becomes the first African-American MCP graduate.

1979 - Frederick K. Bell Memorial Scholarship instituted and Catherine Ross (Ph.D., Cornell) becomes the Program’s first African-American faculty member.

1981 - Leon S. Eplan (Atlanta Planning and Budgeting Commissioner, and former President of the American Institute of Planners) becomes the third Program Director.

1982 - City Planning moves back to the “Old” Architecture-East Building.

1983 - A doctoral degree option in City Planning was added. David Sawicki (Chair at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) becomes the fourth Program Director.

1985 - Georgia Tech is the host of the 27th Annual Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) conference in Atlanta.

1987 - The program now offers five specializations: Transportation, Urban Development and Redevelopment, Land Use and Environment, Economic Development, and Urban Design. The program is first accredited by the newly formed Planning Accreditation Board.

1989 - Shi Hak Noh becomes the first Ph.D. graduate. Stan Fitterman’s (MCP ’88) thesis, Mortgage Redlining in Metropolitan Atlanta, receives the Edward McClure award for best master’s student paper from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

1990 - The GRA Co-Op Program is established. The first sponsoring organizations were Central Atlanta Progress, Georgia Power, City of Powder Springs, and the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

1992 - City planner Thomas D. Galloway (Dean of the College of Environmental Design, Iowa State University) becomes the third Dean of the College of Architecture (now College of Design); Steven P. French (Professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo) becomes fifth Program Director.

1993 - The program redefines its specializations to include seven specific areas: Economic Development, Environmental Planning, Geographic Information Systems, Land Development, Land Use, Transportation, and Urban Design. Rachel Matthews Prioleau earns her MCP, joining Eleanor Quinn Matthews (MCP’78) in the first mother/daughter pair to earn planning master’s degrees at Tech.

1995 - The program moves to new offices in Architecture-East building. The Thera H. Richter Award is initiated, honoring the first woman MCP graduate (also the first woman to graduate with a master’s degree from Tech). The Hahira Town Plan MCP studio project receives an American Planning Association National Student Project Award.

1996 - The Center for Geographic Information Systems is founded; Steven French becomes the first Center Director. Center offices and labs are located in Architecture Annex.

1997 - Joint degrees are established in Water Resources and Environmental Management (both with the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering). Tom Galloway and Georgia Tech host the inaugural Administrators Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Sandy Glatting Salsbury earns MCP joining Jack F. Glatting Sr. (MCP ’65) in the first father/daughter pair to earn planning master’s degrees at Tech.

1999 - Cheryl K. Contant (Program Director at University of Iowa) becomes sixth Program Director. The Glatting-Jackson Fellowship is instituted. Carol Barrett (MCP ’75) and Lester Solin (MCP ’70) are inducted in the inaugural class of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

2000 - Georiga Tech was the host of 42nd Annual Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning in Atlanta.

2002 - The City Planning program becomes The City and Regional Planning program. The Master of City Planning (MCP) degree becomes the Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) degree.

2003 - Catherine Ross becomes Harry West Professor and Director of the newly founded Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development located in the new Technology Square Economic Development Building.

2005 - David Sawicki, FAICP, becomes Editor of the Journal of the American Planning Association.

2007 - Thomas D. Galloway dies tragically while serving as dean.

2008 - Bruce Stiftel, FAICP (Associate Dean at Florida State University) becomes seventh Program Director.

2009 - Galloway family endows Thomas D. Galloway Fellowships.

2010 - City & Regional Planning Program becomes the School of City & Regional Planning; Bruce Stiftel becomes the founding School Chair. The City and Regional Planning Ph.D. degree program is approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. 

Georgia Tech hosts the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning annual Ph.D. Workshop. Steve French is workshop chair. Troels Adrian’s (MCRP ’10) paper, Funding Supportive Housing in Georgia, receives the Edward McClure award for best master’s student paper from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. 

Georgia Tech is co-organizer (with Sun Yat Sen University) of the 9th International Conference of the Urban Planning and Environments Association held in Guanzhou, China. Nancey Green Leigh and Perry Yang are co-chairs. 

Georgia Tech Master of Science in Urban Design program is approved by Georgia Board of Regents with joint administration by the School of Architecture and the School of City and Regional Planning.

2011 - Georgia Tech’s MCRP program is ranked 8th in the nation by Planetizen.

Subhrajit Guhathakurta (Associate Director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University) becomes the second Director of the Center for Geographic Information Systems

Ning Ai is the first graduate of the School of City & Regional Planning Ph.D. program.

2012 - Professors Subhrajit Guhathakurta and Nancey Green Leigh become co-editors of the Journal of Planning Education and Research published by Sage Publications in conjunction with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

The U.S. Department of Transportation names Georgia Tech home to one of ten national university transportation centers. Harry West Professor Catherine Ross is named as Co-Director of this National Center for Transportation Productivity and Management.

The Action Plan for the Fort Macpherson Community MCRP studio project receives an American Planning Association National Student Project Award.

2013 - Steven French is appointed Dean of the College of Architecture (now College of Design).

The Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology (MS-GIST) degree program is approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. The first 5 students enroll in the fall.

Thomas Hamed (MCRP Class of '15) is elected to the APA Student Representatives Council, Executive Committee.

Jesse Zaro-Moore's (MCRP Class of '14) paper, Notes from the Field on NSP1,NSP2, and NSP3: Policy Alternatives for Mitigating the Effects of Foreclosed and Abandoned Properties on Neighborhoods, receives the Edward McClure award for best master's student paper from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

2014 - The School is ranked 5th best planning school in the nation by Planetizen.

Georgia Tech team comprised of School of Architecture and School of City and Regional Planning Students reaches the finals in the Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines Urban Design Competition.Taylor Tyger (MCRP Class of '14) and Thomas Douthat are awarded Fulbright Scholarships. The Fall 2012 Sea Level Rise Studio wins the National APA Student Project Award.

2015 - Shelley Price (MCRP Class of '16) is elected to APA Student Representatives Council, Executive Committee.

Bruce Stiftel receives the Martin Meyerson Award for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. 

2016 - Georgia Tech team of MCRP, MS-UD, and MS-Computer Science students reaches the finals in the Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines Urban Design Competition.

The Georgia Tech College of Architecture becomes the Georgia Tech College of Design.

2017 - Georgia Tech's MCRP program is ranked 7th in the nation by Planetizen. Rebecca Van Dyke (MCRP Class of '18) is elected to APA Student Representatives Council, Executive Committee.

2018- Subhrajit Guhathakurta becomes the second chair of the School of City & Regional Planning.

Two Georgia Tech teams comprised of School of Architecture and School of City and Regional Planning Students reach the finals in the Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines Urban Design Competition.

Catherine Ross is named a Regents Professor by the University System of Georgia.

The first modular short course, “Confronting Homelessness,” is taught to a group of students and industry professionals.

2019 - Two Ph.D. students, Evan Mallen and Jessica Fisch win Institute-wide awards for Outstanding Graduate Instructor and Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant, respectively. The first student-driven studio in Puerto Rico takes place.

The inaugural SCaRP Advisory Board is formed with Jennifer Ball, Claudia M. Bilotto, AICP, Douglas R. Hooker, Debbie Kimerling, Cristina Pastore, AICP, P.E., and Steve Weir as the first members.

2020 - The Covid-19 pandemic sends students and faculty home to conduct classes virtually beginning in March after spring break.

As part of the growing Black Lives Matter movement that began in June after the killing of George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department, SCaRP issued Our Commitment to Justice and Inclusive Communities with an action plan to combat racism in planning.

For More Information

Larry Keating, Professor Emeritus at the Georgia Tech College of Design, wrote a comprehensive 35-year history of the planning at Tech for the discipline's 50th anniversary. View and read the paper: “Georgia Institute of Technology Graduate Program in City and Regional Planning: The First 35 Years," by Larry Keating (2003).

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