Tag Archives: Urban Design

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.

MURP Students Participate in Housing Charrette with Industry Professionals

November 4, 2016

In late September, MURP students in Assistant Professor CTT and Associate Chair Jennifer Steffel Johnson’s Urban Housing class participated in a community design charrette, which is an intensive, hands-on workshop that brings together numerous disciplines to explore architectural, planning and development options for particular areas or sites.

Urban Housing is an interdisciplinary class that includes urban and regional planning, architecture and landscape architecture students. “Design by Community Charrette” was conducted in partnership with professional architects, who serve as team leaders that organize the students and their progress on the project, as well with Housing Colorado, a statewide non-profit organization “working to educate, inform and advocate for affordable housing.”


To solicit projects, Housing Colorado released a request for proposal for potential organizations to apply to be the focus of the charrette, with applications often coming from housing authorities, municipalities and non-profit housing organizations. With their proposal, applicants must have a real project and site in mind for which they want to implement an actionable plan.

For the Fall 2016 charrette, two applicants were chosen—Mile High Ministries’ York Street Project in Denver, and Fort Collins Housing Authority and City of Fort Collins’ Colorado Housing Project in Fort Collins. Fort Collins’ project consisted of a 60-acre site of undeveloped, city-owned land. The site was zoned for up to 204 units and sought to develop a mixed used and mixed income design to provide diverse housing choices for households of all types. Mile High Ministries requested assistance with the development of a mixed-used affordable housing community on blighted property in the northeast Denver neighborhood of Cole, which is located off of York Street.

During the class, students conducted precedent and existing conditions studies for several weeks on the actual sites to understand both the clients’ needs as well as their particular projects.  After the preliminary work was completed, the design charrette took place over three days on the designated sites, which included assistance from volunteer architects, landscape architects, planners, construction and finance professionals, market analysts and representatives from the client organizations. Together with the students, the teams assembled the designs for the projects.


At the end of the three days, the project typically progresses enough so that the client can move forward in searching for funding to implement the final product. For instance, in past years, several charrette projects have been built or are currently under construction. It is estimated that the services provided by the students and volunteer professionals is worth upward of $60,000 per organization.

To conclude the design charrette, students presented their completed work at the Housing Colorado NOW! Annual Conference, which took place in Beavercreek, Colorado from October 5 to 7.

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/

Fall 2015 Studio Creates Development Plan for City of Lakewood for 59-Acre Site

February 3, 2016

Denver, CO –  Students in Krista Trofka’s Fall 2015 studio course worked with the City of Lakewood to prepare a development plan for a 59-acre site located at the southeast Corner of 6th Avenue and Union Boulevard. The City of Lakewood was under contract with the General Services Administration (GSA) to acquire the property, which is immediately adjacent to RTD’s Federal Center Station along the “W” Line. Continue reading

Students Prepare Development Proposals for Former Hospital Site for City of Boulder

February 3, 2016

Denver, CO – In Fall 2015, students in Korkut Onaran and Deana Swetlik’s studio course prepared development proposals for the former Boulder Community Hospital site, which was recently purchased by the City of Boulder. The proposals included site plans, activity programs, and a preliminary asset analysis.

The former Boulder Community Hospital site provided students with a great opportunity to explore the plethora of development possibilities inherent in a site like this – a large piece of land that is close to important amenities. The primary question underlying the development proposals was: what long term goals can the City of Boulder achieve by locating what and how on this site? Getting to an answer involved developing an activity program, a framework plan, a site plan, and a preliminary asset analysis.

After writing some initial “first impressions” essays, the class focused not only on the site and its close surroundings, but also considered broader planning issues in Boulder. The class reviewed recent planning efforts, developments, demographics, and transportation. After this analysis phase, each individual student worked on developing site plans to grasp the scale and the context of the development question. The rest of the work was developed by students in three small groups. After a preliminary presentation to Boulder city officials on October 8, 2015, the class provided a final presentation on November 14, 2015. Representatives from the Goose Creek Neighborhood Organization were also in the audience.

Spring 2016 Studio to Prepare Speer Boulevard‐Connecting Auraria Urban Design Study

January 29, 2016

Denver, CO – In the near future, the City of Denver intends to prepare an update to the Downtown Multimodal Access Plan (DMAP), as the original DMAP was completed in 2005. This plan will include, among its many elements, an assessment of Speer Boulevard as one of Downtown’s primary transportation corridors.

In anticipation of that planning process, Ken Schroeppel’s Spring 2016 Planning Project Studio is collaborating with the Downtown Denver Partnership to prepare a Speer BoulevardConnecting Auraria Urban Design Study that investigates the transportation and urban form attributes of Speer Boulevard and makes strategic recommendations consistent with the goals of the Downtown Area Plan. The Speer BoulevardConnecting Auraria Urban Design Study will provide valuable information, insight, and ideas to the Downtown Denver Partnership and the City of Denver for their future work along Speer Boulevard. Throughout the semester, students engage with representatives from the Downtown Denver Partnership, Denver Community Planning and Development, Denver Public Works, Denver Parks and Recreation, Denver Arts and Venues, the Auraria Higher Education Center, and other stakeholders to gather data, solicit opinions and best practices, and to receive critical feedback on the study.

The primary goals for the studio project are:

  • Reimagine Speer as a multimodal Living Street transportation corridor: Identify physical, operational, and behavioral strategies to upgrade Speer from an automobile‐oriented arterial street into a multimodal transportation corridor consistent with Denver’s Living Streets Initiative.
  • Reimagine Speer as a monumental Grand Boulevard civic space: Identify a design vision and policy recommendations to elevate the public realm and urban form along Speer into a grand boulevard and public space that dignifies and celebrates the corridor’s rich cultural and historical importance to the city.
  • Reimagine Speer as a dynamic and seamless AurariaDowntown connector: Identify physical, policy, and programmatic strategies to transform Speer from a physical and psychological barrier into a nexus that unites and integrates the Auraria campus with adjacent Downtown districts.