Planning and Urban Design Definitions

Two of our key services include planning and design. You can view several of our projects related to campus planning and design, urban design, transportation related planning and design, landscape architecture and land planning in the above gallery images. We have also arranged a list of commonly used terms in the architecture industry, along with its definitions.

Campus Planning and Design

  • Long Range Development Plans: A comprehensive land-use plan that will guide physical development of the campus to support its teaching, research, and public service mission for 20+/- years. Long range plans also provide the basis for short and long term capital planning.
  • Master Plans and Area Plans: May be for an entire campus, for a precinct or a district of a campus. Like a long range plan, the master plan incorporates academic plans, space needs, land use, circulation, and infrastructure requirements into a coherent but flexible whole.
  • Feasibility Studies and Site Selection:  May be undertaken for almost any type of facility project, such as student housing, an academic lab, or a recreation building.  Feasibility studies and analysis of suitable sites help establish the goals and locational criteria for a capital project. The client is typically the facility’s planning office or the campus architect’s office.
  • Open Space / Landscape Plans: These address a campus’ needs for recreation, cultural and environmental resources as manifests open space.  They may include concepts associated with long term improvements to parks, plazas, arts and cultural facilities, and art.

Urban Design

  • Urban District Plans: Downtown, district, neighborhood or station area plans articulate a vision for the future of an urban area.  These plans typically involve considerable community involvement and result in land use and circulation plans, design guidelines, and regulatory documents (zoning, general or comprehensive plans) that will guide future development.
  • Waterfront Planning and Design: These plans seek to maximize the public’s access to and enjoyment of a community’s waterfront resources while enabling appropriate development and circulation along and to the shoreline.
  • Suburban Renovation and Infill Strategies: Smart growth strategies seek to infill underutilized or vacant sites in existing suburban areas.  In that way they may increase development density and the mix of uses, thereby improving access by pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders and reducing the need for auto trips.
  • Urban Design Guidelines: Guidelines advance the policies, goals and objectives of a Plan and help translate these into standards that describe the desired outcomes for the design of streets, parks, open spaces and building projects.

Transportation Related Planning and Design

  • Transit-oriented Development Plans: These plans focus on strategies to increase transit ridership and thereby reduce auto trips.  They often recommend reasonable increases in development density as well as a mix of uses and the creation of compact communities within walking distance of a transit stop or station.
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Systems Planning: These are the backbone of accessible mixed use communities and may include streets and sidealks, bikeways, tracks and trails. Plans typically include proposed routes and guidelines for the design of these elements.
  • Transit Facility Design: Transit facilities range from major commuter rail stations to local and regional bus stops.  Our work in transit facility design includes improving pedestrian and transit access in older, existing train stations as well as design for new rail, light rail, and bus rapid transit stations and corridor.
  • Traffic Calming: Our communities have been significantly impacted by vehicular traffic.  Traffic calming, through the design of streets, narrowed roadways, wider sidewalks, landscaping, and traffic calming devices, improves the livability of our communities and increases convenience for non-auto access.

Landscape Architecture

  • Streetscape Design: Streets are among the most important public spaces in a urban environment. Streetscape design includes features such as lights, trees, other landscaping, and street furniture.  The intent is to support economic development and enhance an environment for people to gather as a community.
  • Signage and Wayfinding: Clear signage supports wayfinding in the urban and natural environments, provide guidance to visitors and community members, and provide attractive, recognizable, and navigable points of reference within large or complex environments such as a campus, waterfront, or downtown. 
  • Open Space, Parks and Landscape Plans: Open space plans address a community’s needs for recreation, cultural and environmental resources open space.  They may include concepts associated with long term improvements to parks, plazas, arts and cultural facilities, and art.

Land Planning

  • Development Feasibility Studies: These studies, primarily for private land owners or developers, typically include an evaluation and analysis of site constraints, development potential, and site capacity of a proposed project.  Implementation strategies, cost and regulatory modifications are often involved.
  • General Plans: A general or comprehensive plan summarizes land use, transportation and related policies in jurisdictions. Each city and county adopts and updates their General Plan to guide the growth and land development of their community, for both the current period and the long term.
  • Master Planning for Large-Scale Land Development: Land development studies are prepared for developers or land owners seeking to significantly change or revitalize an existing site. While addressing the financial and cost implications, these studies also require significant consultation with the local jurisdiction and community.
  • Specific Area Plan: Specific Plans or district / area plans are intended to direct future development in a particular district of a city.  They define specific land use and circulation improvements and typically include zoning modifications.