Mike Dobbins, FAICP, FAIA
Professor of the Practice, School of City & Regional Planning
Architecture-East Building, 204-E
Specialization Area: Urban Design
Professor of the Practice Mike Dobbins, city planner, urban designer, and architect, teaches courses in urban design policy and implementation, freehand drawing for planners, and studio courses in the School of City and Regional Planning. In his teaching, he promotes design as a crucial component among all those disciplines that together develop the policy, programming, design, and implementation of urban places. He emphasizes putting planning and design tools in the hands of neighborhoods, as well as other groupings of interests to bring about positive changes in land use, transportation, housing, economic and community development, and environmental planning and design. He relates planning and design guidance to the regulatory and financing frameworks that carry out municipal development. He aims his practice and research in these contexts toward narrowing the wealth divide, combatting racism, and stewarding the environment, all critical goals for planners to achieve a fair and just society. He believes that for cities to improve, they have to improve for everyone, in which ordinary people organized at the local level offer the best guidance to move toward that goal.
He came to the City of Atlanta in June 1996 as Commissioner of Planning, Development, and Neighborhood Conservation. The mayor charged him to manage the planning, design, and development Olympics legacy for the city. Atlanta had lost about 100,000 people from the ‘70s to the ‘90s. Both the private sector and the public sector, in different ways, saw the Olympics moment as an opportunity to re-concentrate population, jobs, and investment into the core of the burgeoning region. Through a variety of regulatory, financial, and process modifications, in which the department played a significant role, the city turned around its population decline and at this point has regained 100,000 people. His department oversaw planning, zoning, subdivision, neighborhood planning units (NPUs), building permitting and inspection, housing and community development, code enforcement, grants management, and homeless services, as well as maintaining links with other local, state, and federal agencies.
Prior to coming to Atlanta, he led planning and urban design agencies in New York City, New Orleans, Birmingham, and UC Berkeley. He taught architecture for a couple of years at Tulane and had teaching assignments at Columbia, Birmingham Southern College, and UC Berkeley.
Dobbins is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, as well as holding memberships in other city building organizations.