Category Archives: In The Spotlight

MURP Students Participate in International Park(ing) Day 2017

October 1, 2017

On September 15, students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at CU Denver—headed by the officers of the American Planning Association student chapter (APAS)—participated in the annual Park(ing) Day outside of the College of Architecture and Planning at 14th and Larimer in downtown Denver.

Park(ing) Day, which began in San Francisco in 2005, began as a way to temporarily turn a metered parking space in the city into a temporary public space as a way to showcase what amenities we often give up to accommodate parking in dense urban areas. From its original founding, Park(ing) Day is now an annual, open-source global event where citizens, professionals and activists create their versions of temporary public space in urban places around the world. As such, the event’s mission is to, “call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.”

The theme of this year’s Park(ing) Day contribution by MURP students was “urban jungle,” which was constructed with the help of CU Denver students from the American Institute of Architects student chapter, as well as private engineering, planning and consulting firm Michael Baker International. Throughout the day, several dozen people stopped by the transformed parking spot to ask questions about the event, and drivers passing by at the nearby stoplight engaged with students.

Of this year’s event, APAS President Kari Remmen said, “Park(ing) Day was a success because of the conversation it sparks. As planners, we need to understand the public opinion around the issues we are trying to address. Park(ing) Day gave us the opportunity to hear from people, as well as talk about the impacts of parking in our downtown urban spaces.”

In addition to engaging the public, this year’s contribution by MURP students focused on bringing together students in the first and second year of the urban planning program. Remmen noted that because the master’s program is only a short two years, APAS has an important role to play in ensuring relationships are developed among students, as they are all future planners who will work together in the field.

Park(ing) Day takes place each year on the third Friday of September. Click here for more information on the global event.

April 2017: MURP Faculty Updates

MURP faculty are busy serving the planning profession, the community and our students through their leadership and participation in publications, boards, research and media stories. 

Notable activities in April 2017 include:

Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning, received a grant through CU Denver’s Office of Research Services to conduct a research project entitled, Green Gentrification in Chicago: Development, displacement and Community Activism. The project will analyze the gentrification impacts of the more than 200 acres of parks built between 1990 and 2017 in Chicago, and will include interviews with advocacy organizations working along two of the city’s new parks. This research project is spurred by the expensive urban greening projects many U.S. cities have undertaken in recent years along former waterways and rail corridors, such as New York City’s High Line. While these projects often transform dilapidated infrastructure into desirable public spaces, they can contribute to quickly rising property values and the eventual displacement of low-income people living nearby. As such, Németh’s research will assess the extent to which these “green gentrification” projects contribute to displacement, and whether community resistance efforts resulting in new housing and land use policies may temper these effects.

Németh was also interviewed and cited in the publication, CityPulse, where Lansing, Michigan is looking to Colorado as a case study related to medical marijuana regulation and zoning restrictions. In 2014, Németh conducted a study of zoning restrictions for marijuana facilities in Denver and found that the restrictions pushed these businesses into lower-income, minority communities and neighborhoods. In the interview, Németh said that these zoning restrictions ultimately deepen the disparity between wealthier areas of the city and lower-income neighborhoods.

Andrew Rumbach, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, received two grants for research on international planning. The first, a $25,000 grant from CU Denver’s Office of Research Services, will allow Dr. Rumbach and two graduate students to travel to northeastern India to study flooding and landslide risk in fast-growing villages. The second, a teaching enhancement grant from the Center for Faculty Development, will help Dr. Rumbach and colleagues from the University of Michigan to evaluate a case-based approach to international planning pedagogy.

Austin Troy, professor and urban and regional planning and department chair, was elected to the governing board of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planners as the regional representative from the Central region of the U.S.

College of Architecture and Planning Announces Spring 2017 Lecture Series

Each semester, University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning brings distinguished speakers to campus to discuss current trends, research and issues related to the fields of architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture and urban design.

Each lecture takes place at 5:00 PM (unless otherwise noted) on the second floor of the College of Architecture and Planning, located at 1250 14th Street in downtown Denver.

February 27, 2017
Bon Ku, MD, MPP
Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University
How Doctors and Architects Can Work Together to Design Healthier Communities

March 13, 2017
Laurel Raines, ASLA
Founding Principal, DIG Studio
Landscape in Practice

March 27, 2017
Michael Murphy
Co-Founder and Executive Director, MASS Design Group

April 4, 2017
Nick Dawson
Executive Director, Johns Hopkins Sibley Innovation Hub; Chair, Executive Board Medicine X, Stanford University
Co-designing with Patients

April 10, 2017
Rolf Pendall, PhD
Co-Director, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
Building Inclusion into the Millennial City

April 17, 2017*
Mark Gelernter, PhD
A lecture by Dean Mark Gelernter and a reception honoring him as he retires
Speculations on the Future of Architectural Education: Looking Forward While Reflecting Back
*Reception, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., 2nd Floor Gallery; Lecture, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., Room 470

April 24, 2017
Lorcan O’Herlihy, FAIA
Founder and Principal, LOHA
Stanley H. and Theodora L. Feldberg Lecture in Honor of Donald R. Roark

APAS Chapter Welcomes MURP Students Back for Semester

February 10, 2017

On January 30, CU Denver’s APAS held its first meeting of the Spring 2017 semester. As a student division of the American Planning Association (APA)—which is a national group of planners, public officials, educators and other dedicated citizens committed to creating vital communities—CU Denver’s chapter ensures that MURP students are engaged with activities, conferences and speakers shaping the future of the profession.

During the semester, APAS will be offering the following activities, engagements and learning opportunities for its student members:

Brown Bag Series – This series gives students the opportunity to meet over lunch with professors and lecturers, who will present and have a discussion with students on an area of interest.  This is a great way for students to hear a lecture on a planning topic they may be interested in but have not yet had the change to explore.  It is also an opportunity for students and faculty to hear about research and work happening within the MURP department.

Policy Series – This three-part series will provide students the opportunity to hear from practitioners on how planning policy gets developed, adopted and implemented from key points of engagement, including advocates, planning staff and elected representatives.

Colorado Planning Tour 
– During the 2017 spring break, APAS will be taking a road trip around Colorado to visit a handful of cities across the state.  While in various locations, the chapter will explore what towns and cities are doing from a planning perspective.  This may take the form of guided tours with planning staff, Q&A sessions with planners followed by independent exploration, conducting research on an aspect of planning in a particular locale, and more.

Job Shadow Program & Resume/Cover Letter Workshop – APAS hosted a successful job shadow program in the fall and is excited to host another round this spring.  The chapter’s focus will be on expanding the program by growing its list of hosts, especially those in high interest areas.  In addition, APAS will host a resume and cover letter workshop for students to make sure they are ready to look for internships and jobs this spring.

Happy Hours
 – APAS wants all MURP students to get to know and network with other people in the program! Happy hours will be planned throughout the semester.

Facilitation Workshop – Public engagement is critical for ensuring MURP students are planning for all members of the community and developing equitable plans. However, effective public engagement isn’t always easy to do, and facilitating those conversations requires skill and practice.  APAS will host a workshop designed to help students build their public engagement and facilitation skills.

Questions about getting involved in APAS as a student member, helping to serve as a volunteer for any of the mentioned events, or running for the APAS Board for the 2017-2018 school year (elections take place on March 27, 2017)?

Visit the APAS homepage, where you’ll find upcoming events and APAS board contact information.

January 2017: MURP Department, Faculty and Student Updates

MURP faculty are busy serving the planning profession, the community and our students through their leadership and participation in publications, presentations and media stories. Our students are also making great strides, with recent scholarship awards for their exemplary academic performance.

 Notable activities in January 2017 include:

Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning spoke at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture’s Annual Lecture Series. In the talk entitled, “Just Space: Why public space matters now more than ever,” Németh spoke about how public space performs three critical functions for an increasingly divided nation: housing protests, making the marginalized visible, and encouraging encounters between people that are very different from one another. For more information on the event, which was attended by 100 participants and took place on January 12 in the university’s Millennium Library, click here.


Austin Troy, professor and urban and regional planning and department chair, has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (Forest Service) to plan for an “urban field station” in Denver, which would host and help organize research and activities related to management of the urban environment and urban ecological systems. The Forest Service currently hosts four urban field stations in Baltimore, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, and the proposed Denver station would be the first official Forest Service field station in the West.

The proposed station is being developed in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as Denver Parks and Recreation Department’s Division of Forestry. To help fund the project, Dr. Troy received a 2016 Forest Service grant to facilitate the planning and potential setup of this station, in addition to providing support for a meeting attended by representatives from the Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Denver Forestry, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy and academia. The grant also supports a trip by Dr. Troy and Forest Service personnel to tour the eastern urban field stations that will inform a startup strategy and business plan for the station.


Through the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), first year MURP student Meghan McCloskey Boydston was awarded the 2016-2017 WTS Leadership Legacy Scholarship award. Launched in 2007, the Leadership Legacy Scholarship provides financial aid to an exemplary woman pursuing graduate studies in a transportation-related field. This award furthers WTS’ mission to “build the transportation industry through the global advancement of women can be realized by encouraging women to further their careers as leaders in transportation.” The scholarship also focuses on advancing students interested in sustainable communities and public transit, and seeks to reward women who bring ideas, innovation and new approaches to U.S. and international transportation challenges. Congratulations Meghan!


Last year, CU Denver College of Architecture and Planning’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning was written into an awarded $30 Million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the redevelopment of Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood. The grant was awarded to Denver Housing Authority (DHA), with CU Denver’s to serve as the official data hub for the project. Austin Troy, professor and urban and regional planning and department chair, will coordinate CU Denver’s involvement in this project. To house the data, a server has been set up in conjunction with CityCraft Ventures, which now hosts a large database of publicly-available geographic information system (GIS) files for all of west Denver, the grant’s geographic area of focus. Ultimately, CU Denver will work with DHA and research partners at Colorado State University, Regis University, CU Boulder and University of Denver to develop a system of indicators that will be used to measure neighborhood well-being and health as the neighborhood transforms. The team will also conduct GIS analyses to quantify the natural and built environment of Sun Valley.

CAP Hosts Panel on Implications of Planning Decisions to Colorado’s Future

November 9, 2016

The College of Architecture and Planning and its urban and regional planning program hosted a panel in early November on the Future of Colorado: Major Implications of State, Regional and Local Decisions on Planning Issues. The panel featured three speakers—Doug Anderson, environmental planner, CH2M; David (DK) Kemp, senior transportation planner, City of Boulder; and MURP Assistant Professor Ken Schroeppel—and discussed questions related to housing, transportation, socioeconomics, and energy and the environment.

HousingWhat tactics or incentives can public officials employ to encourage the construction of more affordable housing and reduce development costs? 

The panel discussed the issue of affordable living as a means to tackle housing issues, which could include combining housing and transportation costs, in addition to unbundling, or completely removing, municipal parking requirements. The panel also looked at the potential importance of increased density provisions, and used Boulder, Colorado as an example to suggest the need to counter current growth boundaries and height limitations. Other topics addressed regarding housing included housing cooperatives, accessory dwelling units and tiny homes, all as alternative forms of “affordable housing.”

Transportation: With less money dedicated to transportation improvements, how could the state alternatively address traffic congestion? Will FasTracks, Bustang, or other transportation services help reduce road traffic or is some other strategy needed?

The panel deliberated numerous topics, including the converting underused railroad tracks for future passenger rail, as well as the need for better pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure as a way to encourage less drivers on the road. Other discussion included the advent of driverless cars, including that while it is currently unknown what their consequences to traffic congestion will be, the panel’s consensus was that driverless cars would likely reduce the frequency of commuting. Final topics of debate included the possibility of telecommuting more option to address traffic issues, and the impact the Colorado Department of Transportation could have by coordinating with municipalities on regional land use designations.

Socio-Economics: In what capacity should planners contribute to the needs of small towns and suburbs from an economic standpoint? From a cultural standpoint? How do you see changing demographics shaping the future of cities, suburbs and small towns in Colorado?

While numerous topics were discussed, the largest takeaway from this portion of the panel discussion was that professional planners to need better listen to the concerns of citizens, such as business owners, residents and customers. Ken Schroeppel provided an explanation of the pyramid method for community engagement, in which substantive, procedural and psychological needs must be met, in addition to urging attendees to look up the Google Earth street view of small towns across America to better understand the problems they are experiencing. Similarly, the panel also talked about the need for new economic development and policy measures that would help small towns transition to new industries. This was also echoed by the idea that planners have been neglecting infrastructure maintenance in rural American towns, and that plans should be put into place to update or re-purpose aging infrastructure.

Energy and the Environment:  How can planners use practices such as open space preservation, conservation easements, and land acquisition to prevent further decimation of the natural environment and encourage more sustainable forms of energy?

Doug Anderson began this portion of the panel discussion by stating that encouragement of sustainable forms of energy is not always complementary with good land use practices, such as clearing a significant number of acres for solar panels or wind farms, when in actuality, this does not help to preserve the natural features of the land. However, the panel did consider that practices such as the transfer of development rights may be useful for preserving natural spaces via conservation easement designations.

Urban Designer and Author Julie Campoli Speaks at CAP Lecture Series

October 18, 2016

As part of the Fall 2016 College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) lecture series, urban designer and author Julie Campoli spoke at a brown bag lunch event and an evening lecture—each which drew several dozen attendees—during her day-long visit to the college.

Campoli, who owns Burlington, Vermont-based practice, Terra Firma Urban Design, is author or co-author of three books addressing the urban form and its changing landscape, including her most recent title, Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form, which explores sustainable transportation in the built environment through use of photographs, montages, maps and diagrams of North American neighborhoods. In addition to her writing and work as a consultant through her design firm—which specializes in town design, land use analysis and site planning for affordable housing—Campoli conducts lectures and workshops throughout the United States on walkability, density, housing, sustainable transportation and green infrastructure.

Campoli’s afternoon lecture, Solvitur Ambulando: It Is Solved by Walking, explored how changes in transportation speed over the past century—such as through the evolution of the carriage, train, and finally, the automobile—has altered the urban landscape and its form. As a result, Campoli argues for a resurgence in walking as a primary mode of transportation, so as to lead to more humane cities and a higher quality of life

During her talk, Campoli noted two significant challenges to our health and built environment—the fact that people are no longer moving, and that they are separated from one another. At best, Campoli labels walking in our cities’ built environments as inconvenient; at worst, it can be dangerous. As a result, Campoli discussed how urban designers and planners have the opportunity to promote increased physical and social connection by retrofitting places to be denser and more compact. By redefining a place’s physical boundaries, and placing less focus on the needs of the automobile as it relates to land use and transportation decisions, Campoli advocates for attending to the needs of people who travel on foot. By doing so, our cities have occasion to serve as catalysts for increased social encounters that lead to a greater sense of happiness.

Campoli’s evening lecture, There Will Be Cupcakes: Gentrification and Displacement in Walkable Places, looked at how placing restored value in many of our inner-city neighborhoods via place-making and public investments has led to improved physical form and connectivity, but has also ushered in higher property values and the threat of cultural and economic displacement. Campoli asked some difficult questions—including how a neighborhood can be transformed while remaining home to its original residents, and how cities can address the growing need for increased affordable housing—by using the revitalization of Columbus, Ohio as a case study.

While answers to these questions are not easy to come by, Campoli examined several strategies to promote “development without displacement,” including strengthening the existing community through advocacy and representation; actively protecting a city’s most vulnerable citizens; protecting and preserving affordable housing; and enacting an inclusive planning process, including inclusionary zoning practices that require a certain percentage of housing units be kept at affordable rates.

For more information on Julie Campoli and her work, visit http://www.juliecampoli.com/.

Photo credit: http://www.juliecampoli.com/

MURP Professor Lectures on International Planning in Asia

As part of its brown bag lunch lecture series, CU Denver’s American Planning Association Student Chapter (APAS) hosted College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) Assistant Professor Andrew Rumbach on October 11 to present a lecture on Marshes, Malls and Land Mafias: The Political Ecology of Flood Risk in Kolkata, India.

The presentation—which dovetails with Rumbach’s areas of research interest, including disasters and climate change, environmental risk, urban resilience, international planning, and small town and rural development—hosted about twenty students and faculty interested in learning more about his extensive work in south and southeast Asia.

During his lecture, Rumbach discussed how studying the root causes of flood risk in Asia drives his research, and examined three main sub-topics: how urbanization, flooding, and climate change affect Asian megacities; the specific case study of Kolkata in this context; and additional, in-depth information about the east Kolkata wetlands, which suffer from poor planning due to linkages between organized crime, local politics and real estate development.

Rumbach shared that by 2050, 6.4 billion people will live in cites, with 90% of this growth taking place in south Asia, southeast Asia, and Africa, which will contribute to the most radical shift in human settlement patterns in history. Due to this increasing global density, urbanization is becoming one of the main drivers of disaster likelihood in Asia, with the risk of environmental hazards—such as floods and storms—becoming more prevalent when a population’s level of vulnerability and exposure increases. Further, as urban governance through corrupt regimes plays a key role in the creation and distribution of resources critical to disaster risk reduction, much of the population often finds itself with unequal access to resources.

Rumbach further provided specific examples and photographs of these scenarios in Kolkata, India, and specifically the east Kolkata wetlands, which sits at the edge of the megacity and provides an estimated 50% of local demand for freshwater fish, but is subject to illegal land development that destroys this critical industry. Due to state power that is entrenched with the activity of local criminal groups, Rumbach’s presentation signified that a significant challenge to meaningful planning in the region remains.

“The brownbag was a great opportunity to share my research on Indian urbanization and environmental risk with students and colleagues. I look forward to future APAS organized events, which will greatly benefit the intellectual and research culture in the department and college,” Rumbach said.

For students interested in learning more about disaster and international development planning, Rumbach also noted the intersection between his areas of research and classes he teaches, including Natural and Built Environments, Disaster and Climate Change Planning, and Planning in the Developing World.

Brown bag lunch lectures are a part of APAS’ scheduled programming for the 2016-2017 school year. In addition to this lecture series, APAS offers opportunities for urban and regional planning students to participate in job shadowing, interdisciplinary walking tours, the annual Colorado American Planning Association conference, volunteer opportunities with non-profit organizations and more.  

Click here to learn more about APAS at CU Denver, including to visit their event calendar.

CAP Student Info Day Provides Planning and Architecture Opportunities

September 16, 2016

Students from CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) attended this semester’s Student Info Day on Thursday, September 8. At the event—which hosted nearly a dozen organizations, research centers and student groups—urban and regional planning, architecture, urban design and landscape architecture students discovered new ways to engage with their associated discipline as well as meet other students and professionals representing these interests.

Select groups and organizations in attendance included:

American Planning Association Student Chapter (APAS)
APAS is the student chapter for CU Denver of the American Planning Association (APA), and provides urban and regional planning students the opportunity to interact with the planning community through the annual APA conference, subcommittees focused on planning-related topics, lectures, interdisciplinary walking tours, a job shadowing program and more.

To become involved, visit APAS on their website or their Facebook page.

Center for Advanced Research in Traditional Architecture (CARTA)
Located within CAP, CARTA’s mission is to advance the interdisciplinary study and practice of traditional architecture, building craft, landscape architecture and urban design through spirited debate, rigorous education and transformative research so we may improve the built environment and people’s quality of life.

Opportunities to work with CARTA include through annual symposiums and debates, research fellowships, continuing professional education, scholarship and award programs, visiting professionals’ lectures, mentorship and more.

Visit cap.ucdenver.edu/carta for more information and upcoming opportunities.

Center for Preservation Research (CoPR)
Located within CAP, CoPR is a CU Denver research center dedicated to the study, preservation and sustainable use and future development of the built environment and cultural landscapes. CoPR focuses on place, preservation, education and research by working with the public and private sectors to carry out projects and programs that preserve the past, examine the present and prepare for the future.

To learn more about CoPR and its services, visit http://www.ucdenver.edu/preservation.

Colorado Center for Sustainable Urbanism (CCSU)
CCSU, located within CAP, addresses issues related to urban planning, land use and sustainable cities. CCSU serves as a hub for academic and applied research projects; technical assistance to professionals; communicator of information and best practices related to planning and sustainability; and convener of stakeholders to encourage dialogue about planning issues. CSSU offers a variety of methods for involvement, including a speaker series, research and educational opportunities, and outreach events, all designed to promote CCSU’s mission to constitute the hub of creative problem solving that helps make cities and towns more vibrant, livable, sustainable and equitable places.

For more information, visit: http://murp.cudenvercap.org/who-we-are/ccsu/.

Students for Classical Architecture (SCA)
A nationally-based organization founded in 2010 by University of Notre Dame students that were frustrated with their lack of exposure to the contemporary practice of traditional architecture, CU Denver’s SCA chapter offers bi-monthly opportunities to sketch with other students around Denver, guest lectures, lunch meetings and more, all in support of studying and engaging with classical architecture.

You can visit the national website or CU Denver’s chapter-specific Facebook page.

Women in Design-Denver
This organization seeks to improve opportunities for women in professions serving the built environment through education, networking and professional development. Their members are a diverse group of women and supportive men from all professions in the building design and construction industry, including architecture, engineering, urban planning, interior design and more. Opportunities for engagement include hard hat tours, international speakers, seminars and occasions to build relationships with other building industry professionals.

Their next major event will be held on October 12, 2016 and features keynote speaker Oana Stanescu, principal and co-founder of Family New York, an architecture firm generating inventive, ecologically-engaged and civic-minded projects.

For more information and to find upcoming events, visit http://www.widdenver.org/.

Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS)
Founded in 1977, WTS is an international organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the advancement of women. CU Denver’s chapter—which was founded in May 2015—is the 7th official WTS student chapter internationally, and offers opportunities that include educational and social events, volunteer outings, e-communications, networking and more. The chapter is primarily composed of students in urban planning, civil engineering and transportation-related programs, but welcomes anyone who is interested in their work.

To learn more about CU Denver’s WTS chapter, visit https://www.wtsinternational.org/universityofcoloradodenver/.

February 2016: MURP News and Faculty Updates

February 2016

  • Jess Alexander (MLA/MURP 2005) has been named Principal at the design firm RNL in the office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He served as Associate Principal of the MENA Region from December 2015 until February 9, 2016.
  • Sarah Doyle (MLA/MURP 2013) has been promoted to Associate at Norris Design in Denver, from her position as Landscape Architect Project Manager.  Her projects include Littleton Village, Midtown, Encode Evans Station, Cityscapes at Southcreek, Ken Mitchell, and Axis at Westminster.