Tag Archives: Research

MURP Chair Presents on Green Infrastructure Research

In early March 2017, MURP Chair and Professor Austin Troy, PhD, gave a presentation on “Research on the Benefits of Urban Green Infrastructure,” which looked at his current and past work regarding the benefits of urban trees and other vegetation for heat island mitigation, shading, increases in property values and crime reduction.

Dr. Troy discussed how in one study, he looked at the relationship between tree canopy and crime index in the greater Baltimore region, and found that a 10% increase in tree cover equates to a 11.8% decrease in crime, with the effect 37% greater for public than private land trees. While the relationship between crime and trees varied spatially—as did the relationship between private trees and crime—the relationship between crime and public trees did not. Similarly, in another study that also used Baltimore as a case study, Dr. Troy looked at the impact of residential yard landscaping practices on block level crime.

Dr. Troy also spent time discussing the idea of causality versus association in research and within green infrastructure studies. For instance, while the association between green infrastructure and crime is well-established, can it be said that vegetation’s association with crime is causal?

Given the few studies currently available on this topic, Dr. Troy conducted another study—looking at San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York City—to examine whether crime actually drops more than it would otherwise after green investments have already been made. The results generated, he says, are mixed but promising, with tests within each study area suggesting likely causality.

Dr. Troy also discussed green infrastructure and urban heat, including how different surfaces’ absorptivity, reflectivity, transmissivity and emissivity can generate more or less heat in an urban environment. Dr. Troy has mapped urban heat in Denver, and examined the role of trees in mitigating its effects.

The presentation concluded with Dr. Troy previewing his current work, where he is looking at planning issues related to trees and water in the Denver area. His research questions center on how climate change, water supply and urban growth are affected by the high need for irrigation in the Colorado climate.

Each year, the urban and regional planning program within the College of Architecture and Planning, alongside CU Denver’s American Planning Association Student Chapter, host numerous lectures with faculty to discuss their current research.

MURP Chair Visits U.S. Forest Service New York Research Station

In late April 2017, College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) professor and master of urban and regional planning department chair Austin Troy traveled to New York as part of a delegation from the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station to visit the New York Urban Field Station.

The New York Urban Field Station is a facility in Fort Totten, Queens that is managed in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and serves as a hub for research, outreach and programs related to urban environmental stewardship.

The delegation that attended this site visit also included personnel from the University of Denver, as well as the U.S. Forest Service in Fort Collins and Golden. While in New York, the group met with various local and federal officials—including New York City’s Chief of Horticulture, Forestry and Natural Resources—and toured numerous parks and natural areas currently under restoration, as well as participated in a tree planting.

Troy’s travel delegation to New York was made possible by a U.S. Forest Service grant to the College of Architecture and Planning that seeks to facilitate the planning and development of a similar urban field station in the Denver area. The planning group that is working on establishing the Denver station includes representatives from the City of Denver’s Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State University, Trust for Public Land, Davey Trees and others. The New York field visit will aid the planning group in establishing priorities and developing partnerships that will be critical for the success of the future field station.

PhotoTroy (left), members of the delegation, and New York field station staff at a tree planting at Marine Park in Brooklyn, New York.

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.

October 2016: MURP Faculty 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.

Notable activities in October and early November 2016 include:

Carolyn McAndrews, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, alongside collaborators at the Medical College of Wisconsin, recently published two new papers about road safety and equity.

Linking Transportation and Population Health to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Transportation Injury: Implications for Practice and Policy addresses racial and ethnic disparities in pedestrian deaths and serious injuries. Dr. McAndrews and her collaborators argue that creating a combined transportation-population health framework is one way to quantify, and therefore prioritize, equity considerations in transportation safety decision-making. The research found that per trip, whites are equally safe as pedestrians and motor vehicle occupants, whereas other racial and ethnic groups for whom data was obtained were less safe when they walk. The abstract and full text of the research can be read here.

Dr. McAndrew’s second paper, How Do the Definitions of Urban and Rural Matter for Transportation Safety? Re-interpreting Transportation Fatalities as an Outcome of Regional Development Processes, examines road safety equity across the urban-rural continuum, asking whether the definitions of urban and rural matter for how we understand place-based transportation injury risk. This research provides a critical knowledge base for improving the safety of all travelers with several key findings, including that population density, rather than urban/rural, is a better road safety indicator, and that low-density settlements need more road safety attention, regardless of urban-rural status. The abstract and full text of the research can be read here.


Carrie Makarewicz, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, along with Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning, presented their paper Transport Access & Well-Being in Denver on a transportation equity panel at the 2016 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) conference. Makarewicz and Németh sought to determine how transportation accessibility and affordability affects individual and household well-being by surveying 240 individuals in 2014 and 2015 who live in a range of neighborhood types throughout Denver. The impetus for the survey was simultaneous cuts in bus service and proposed public transit fare increases in the Denver region.

Respondents were asked about their household and background; their travel patterns, including where they took transit, and which modes they used, e.g. walk, bike, transit, drive; and seven subjective questions about their well-being, including their health, standard of living, personal relationships, future, sense of safety, community and life achievements.  The findings indicated an importance in the ability to walk and take transit for lower income households, regardless of where they live in Denver; however, many low-income households were less likely than higher income households to use three or more modes of transportation, possibly due to income and ability.

Further, total well-being was strongly associated with income and employment, but with variations among the seven surveyed aspects of well-being, such as people who used multiple modes of transportation–regardless of income–reporting a high standard of living, and those who ranked their standard of living lower residing in areas with less accessibility, and therefore, higher transportation costs. Unfortunately, the study did not find that those who reported walking and using transit to have better health. High ratings of one’s health was positively associated with living in a more suburban neighborhood, higher incomes and working, not with walking or modal use.

While this study was experimental, the findings correspond with other recent studies on the importance of transit accessibility and urban environments to some aspects of subjective well-being, in addition to raising important questions about how well the urban context supports individual health, even if it promotes more active travel.


Ken Schroeppel, assistant professor CTT of urban and regional planning, participated in a professional panel discussion on Wednesday, November 9th, The Future of Colorado: Major Implications of State, Regional and Local Decisions on Planning Issues. Other panelists included Doug Anderson, environmental planner for CH2M and David (DK) Kemp, senior transportation planner for City of Boulder.

Discussion topics included housing, transportation, socio-economics, and energy and the environment, with specific questions addressing issues such as:

  • What tactics or incentives can public officials employ to encourage the construction of more affordable housing and reduce development costs?  
  • How can the state alternatively address traffic congestion with less money dedicated to transportation improvements?
  • What capacity should planners contribute to the needs of small towns and suburbs from an economic standpoint?
  • How can planners use practices such as open space preservation and land acquisition to prevent further decimation of the natural environment and encourage sustainable forms of energy?

Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning, alongside Alessandro Rigolon, assistant professor at California State University, Northridge, recently published a new paper, Planning for Differentiated Solidarity. Németh also presented this research at the 2016 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) conference.

The paper asks how solidarity might be achieved in the context of significant diversity, questioning whether there is a “third way” for planning for diversity, one that bridges the gap between segregation and integration, between differentiation and assimilation. Recent research shows that in the most racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, people tend to “hunker down,” and levels of trust and empathy are low compared to homogeneous neighborhoods. Research also shows that segregation reduces contact with other diverse persons, and makes it unnecessary for the privileged to concern themselves with social injustices.

Németh and Rigolon argue that these two constructs present a false dichotomy and instead seek out a middle ground that is a method of city building called “differentiated solidarity,” which affirms frequent, respectful and unmediated engagement but also celebrates group-based differentiation and clustering in ethnic enclaves. The research asks whether there actually exists certain places marked by conditions of differentiated solidarity, what they might look like, where they are located and how they function. Overall,Planning for Differentiated Solidarity takes the abstract notion of differentiated solidarity and explores its potential physical manifestations.

In their study, Németh and Rigolon look at five of the largest and most diverse metropolitan regions in the U.S. and identify 153 clusters wherein three or more groups of racially homogenous neighborhoods abut one another. They then examine in detail several exemplary cases within each cluster type to better understand how they function and whether they are characterized by higher levels of solidarity than their less diverse counterparts.

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.

MURP Students Conduct Intercept Surveys During First Friday Art Walk

As part of an environmental and market research project that the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) is managing for River North (RiNo) Art District, students from the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program conducted intercept surveys to gather visitor perceptions of RiNo during the district’s First Friday Art Walk.

Nearly a dozen students dispersed to prominent intersections of the Denver neighborhood—which has experienced rapid commercial, business and residential growth over the last several years—to stop passerbys and request their assistance in completing a survey about their general experience in RiNo, their awareness of the First Friday Art Walk, and other perception and demographic questions that will provide a snapshot of visitors’ patterns and behaviors in the district. Housed nearby diverse art galleries, restaurants, boutiques and breweries, students collected a significant sample size of surveys from pedestrians.

The intercept survey, which is part of a larger project capturing trends taking place in the district in the midst of RiNo’s growth, will be one of several qualitative evaluation techniques CU Denver uses to inform its final report for the RiNo Art District. Other methods being utilized include a survey of the RiNo Art District members; one-on-one interviews with local residents, business owners and artists; and potentially the use of focus groups to gather group feedback on the neighborhood’s changes.

The First Friday survey distribution also provided many first-year MURP students the opportunity to practice their intercept survey skills, which is a qualitative evaluation technique frequently used by planners.

Earlier in the semester, Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz’s Planning Project Studio course, which focuses on teaching second-year MURP students how to design plans for real-world clients, toured the area with RiNo Art District Executive Director Jamie Licko and Communications Director Alye Sharp to learn more about the rapidly-occurring changes in the neighborhood.

RiNo Art District, alongside Create Denver—a division of the City and County of Denver’s Arts and Venues, which focuses on supporting Denver’s creative economy—are the two clients the students continue to work with throughout the remainder of the semester, with the goal of developing for their clients quality-of-life plans of the area and its surrounding neighborhoods.

In addition to leading the studio course, Makarewicz also serves as the CU Denver project director for the research being conducted for RiNo Art District.

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/.

College of Architecture and Planning 2016 Fall Lecture Series Announced

Each year, 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, planning, landscape architecture and urban design.

Please note each lecture takes place at 5:00 PM on the second floor of the College of Architecture and Planning, located at 1250 14th Street in downtown Denver.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2016
Harry Teague, AIA
Harry Teague Architects
Architecture: Music

OCTOBER 5, 2016
Florian Idenburg, RA, AIA-IA
Founding Partner of SO-IL and Associate Professor in Practice of Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Order, Edge, Aura

OCTOBER 17, 2016
Bill Wenk, FASLA
Founder and President of Wenk Associates, Inc.
Reconsidering the Natural City: Ecological Design from the Perspective of 40 Years of Practice

OCTOBER 18, 2016
Julie Campoli
Terra Firma Urban Design
There Will Be Cupcakes: Gentrification and Displacement in Walkable Places

OCTOBER 24, 2016
Pekka Heikkinen
Professor, Aalto University, Department of Architecture, Finland
Learning to Use Wood

NOVEMBER 2, 2016
Ed Suzuki
Edward Suzuki Associates Inc., Japan
My Works and GOoD Design

NOVEMBER 7, 2016
Reuben Rainey
Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia School of Architecture and Co-Director, Center for Design and Health
The Garden in the Machine: The Return of Nature to the High-Tech Hospital

MURP Professor Presents Research at DRCOG Metro Vision Idea Exchange

March 3, 2015

MURP Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz presented the findings and recommendations from Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) Outcomes Assessment & Knowledge Sharing grant at the DRCOG Metro Vision Idea Exchange on Wednesday, February 25. The audience included planners, elected officials and representatives from nonprofits.

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the performance of the half-mile areas around existing light rail stations based on four factors: affordable housing, site development, accessibility and jobs, and economic development.  The research team will be making recommendations for the regions current and future light rail lines based on this study. Funding for the project comes from a Sustainable Communities Initiative grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to DRCOG.

Other MURP professors working on the project include Austin Troy, Jeremy Nèmeth, and Ken Schroeppel. MURP partnered with the CU Denver School of Public Affairs on the grant, as well as the new interim director of the Colorado Center for Sustainable Urbanism, Rocky Piro. Students in Carrie’s fall studio course, plus six other current MURP students, Greg Roy, Debra Bristol, Laia Mitchell, Jenny McGinnis, Alison Redenz, and Sarah Blanchard and recent MURP graduate Melanie Sloan, have also worked on the project.

Check out a related post from December here and one from October here.

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Students Present Transportation, Affordable Housing Research

December 17, 2014

Denver, CO – Students in Carrie Makarewicz’s Planning Project Studio presented research from two studies they assisted with at the Piton Foundation in December.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), through a Sustainable Communities Initiative grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), funded the College of Architecture and Planning and the School of Public Affairs to conduct two studies in the region, both of which Carrie’s students assisted with.

The first study, Outcomes Assessment and Knowledge Sharing (OAKS), aims to evaluate the current conditions of the existing light rail station areas on four factors: accessibility, jobs and economic development, site development, and affordable housing. To assist with the evaluation, students from the studio and research team conducted walkability assessments of each of the 45 station areas, looked at data on housing, population, jobs and businesses, and summarized zoning and planning for the area in order to evaluate the stations on each of the four factors.

The second study is an affordable housing strategy for the future Gold Corridor running from North Denver to unincorporated Adams County, Arvada, and Wheat Ridge. The studio did two extensive analyses for this project: an accessibility to amenities evaluation for each of the seven station areas on the line, and site selection for affordable housing within one mile of five of the station areas. From the site selection, they identified 27 potential sites totaling 246 acres.  The access study identified gaps in sidewalks, bus service, bike infrastructure, and necessary amenities, such as grocery stores, and health care.

Among the presentation attendees were representatives from DRCOG, Enterprise Community Partners, HUD, Adams County Housing Authority, and several consultants working on the Gold Corridor Project. The Region 8 Director of HUD and the Director of the Jefferson County Housing Authority were also in attendance.

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