Urban Planning

What is urban planning?

"Urban Planning is a field of study and a profession ... Urban planning focuses on policies and designs that make cities (or places of any size) – more sustainable,  including land uses that protect or restore the environment, policies that will revitalize downtowns, and measures that will ensure a sense of belonging for all groups from the community." ("Urban Planning is ...", Grand Valley State University Department of Geography and Planning)

'Students of ancient cities have proposed three definitions of planning : one emphasizes the deliberate actions of builders, and two focus on the formal layouts that result from those actions. Wendy Ashmore’s work exemplifies the first approach: “Site planning refers herein to the deliberate, self-conscious aspect of settlement patterning, at scales from individual structures through regional landscapes.” 15 The problem with this definition is that all urban construction—whether slum housing, latrines, or imperial palaces—is deliberate and self-conscious in nature. One might improve the usefulness of this approach by limiting consideration to larger spatial scales; planned cities are those in which large areas were deliberately and self- consciously laid out. As noted above, however, modern scholars rarely have written descriptions of the specific actions of ancient rulers, much less direct access to their thoughts or intentions. It is more parsimonious to define ancient urban planning from the empirical data we have available: the layouts of cities as excavated and mapped by archaeologists. 
'The second definition of ancient planning focuses on standardization of city plans. In the words of Romanist Simon Ellis, “By ‘planned’ I do not mean those [cities] that were pre-meditated, but rather those whose urban design was made to follow a specific regular urban design.” 16 Peter Lacovara uses a similar definition for planning in Egyptian cities. 17 How does one determine the nature of this “specific regular urban design”? In some cases, such as imperial Chinese capitals or Roman cities, written documents and maps reveal explicit verbal and graphical models that urban builders followed. 18 In most cases, however, scholars must reconstruct these regular designs through analysis and comparison of city plans. This implies that one needs to study a group of cities to discern the nature of planning in a given case; planning cannot be inferred from the inspection of an individual city plan. The reference group can consist of contemporaneous cities within a single cultural area (e.g., Mayan citiesduring the Late Classic period or Mesopotamian cities in the Early Dynastic period) or else a historical trajectory of cities within a cultural area(e.g., Chinese imperial capitals throughout the centuries). 
'The third definition of planning emphasizes the concept of coordination among buildings. In the words of Harold Carter, planned cities are those in which “there is a discernible and formal organization of space.” 19 In my approach to ancient urban planning, Carter’s formality is a special case of the more general phenomenon of coordination among buildings within a city. A similar concept, “group design,” was proposed by Robert Scranton for planning at Greek cities; this was defined as “creating an architectural scheme of one or more buildings in satisfactory relation to the surroundings.”' ("Form and Meaning in the Earliest Cities: A New Approach to Ancient Urban Planning", Michael E. Smith, Journal of Planning History 6(3), 2007; emphasis added)

Who are the urban planners?

Baltimore City Planning Department -- "Our Mission:  To provide the highest level services and leadership in urban and strategic planning,historical and architectural preservation, zoning, design, development, and capital budgeting to promote the sustained economic, social, and community development of the City of Baltimore."

See especially "Planning / Master Plans, Maps & Publications"


Baltimore Office of Sustainability -- "The Office of Sustainability is a resource, catalyst, and advocate for a sustainable and resilient Baltimore. The Office integrates the principles of environmental integrity, social equity, and economic prosperity into plans, practices, policies, and partnerships. Our goal is to provide innovative solutions to our City’s challenges while engaging, educating, and motivating all sectors of Baltimore."

  • Implementing the Baltimore Sustainability Plan (pdf): "In 2006, the Baltimore City Planning department created a Comprehensive Master Plan designed to position Baltimore as a world-class city. Organized around four themes representative of life in Baltimore; Live, Earn, Play and Learn, the plan was designed to respond to opportunities for growth in Baltimore. The Sustainability Plan was adopted as a portion of this plan, but also functions as a plan of it’s own."

Urban Studies and Planning at University of Maryland: "The curriculum emphasizes student understanding of the political, economic, institutional, and social context within which planners work with a diverse range of stakeholders to develop and implement plans, policies, and programs. Specializations include housing and economic development, land use, growth management and environmental planning, transportation planning, and social planning."

National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education: "a non-partisan center for research and leadership training on smart growth and related land use issues in Maryland, in metropolitan regions around the nation, and in Asia and Europe"

Baltimore Development Corporation: "The City of Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) is a 501(c)(3) corporation contracted with the City of Baltimore to provide economic development services. With a mission to retain and expand existing employers and attract new ones, we work collaboratively within City government, and with private partners, to deliver services that will help your business grow. Our economic development and service expertise is applied to a broad range of activities. We are a liaison between business owners and City agencies advocating for the interests of Baltimore City employers. We work with business owners to shepherd private development projects through public processes saving time and mitigating expense. We are even developers, facilitating the reuse of publicly owned property for new and expanding businesses. Our job is to insure that Baltimore is meeting the needs of its business community, to the greatest extent possible, every day."

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for Baltimore (2014)

Maryland Department of Planning: "Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) provides guidance, analysis, outreach and support to ensure that all of the state’s natural resources, built environment and public assets are preserved and protected to achieve its goals for economic, community and environmental vitality."

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development: "HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business."

Office of Policy Development and Research: "PD&R is responsible for maintaining current information on housing needs, market conditions, and existing programs, as well as conducting research on priority housing and community development issues. The Office provides reliable and objective data and analysis to help inform policy decisions."

Consolidated Planning: "The Consolidated Plan is designed to help states and local jurisdictions to assess their affordable housing and community development needs and market conditions, and to make data-driven, place-based investment decisions."

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC): "The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) works closely with governments and stakeholders to help countries around the world meet their economic, social and environmental goals."

United Nations Office of Sustainable Development: "The purpose of the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) is to support U.N. Member States in planning and implementing sustainable development strategies, notably through knowledge sharing, research, training and partnerships. This includes supporting the implementation of international agreements on sustainable development, including Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, and outcomes of Rio+20."

Sustainable Development Goals: "On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force.  Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind."


ECOSOC Population Division

UN-Habitat (United Nations): "UN-Habitat’s work also depends on close partnerships with national and local governments, helping authorities and institutions to identify and address their specific needs. Despite UN-Habitat’s tremendous efforts to prevent uncoordinated human settlement growth and urbanization issues from becoming the world’s next major crisis after climate change, this challenge still requires involvement from all sectors of society. Governments, policy makers, experts, media actors, and members of the public are all vital to addressing the massive urban challenges that we face today, and we encourage everyone to get involved in transforming our shared urban future."

See also

Baltimore BrewDevelopment stories

"The Baltimore Plan", Wikipedia