The urban design specialization is intended for planners who seek to engage effectively with architects, developers, and institutions around issues of urban form and design.

Students develop an understanding of how planning and policy alter the built environment, by delineating the legal, regulatory, economic, and social context within which design can occur. Courses in this specialization teach concepts used by architects in the design of urban places, and the development of plans and policies that support good urban design.

The curriculum builds upon three major bodies of material:

  • Urban history and design theory as a way of understanding the formal and architectural order of the city
  • Economics and development methods as a basis for formulating development projects
  • Process and methods as a means of understanding professional practice and of designing policies and strategies that can be implemented in a private market regulated by public bodies.

Those with some introductory, academic or professional background in a design-related field, such as architecture, engineering, or landscape architecture may especially benefit, but that background is not a requirement for the specialization.