Still more recommendations and responses to Jesse’s question:
I would encourage a student in high school and university to study art, geography, and how to think creatively. I order to succeed in the latter, (s)he should read as much Edward de Bono as possible!
Michael von Hausen
Best to take art to learn how to draw, geography and socials to understand the physical and social dynamics of cities, math for basic understanding of quantitative measurement of cities. Science can help too, especially biology to understand nature in the city.
Matt Flynn in San Francisco says:
English – writing of all types, including business writing (spelling, grammar, vocabulary) and (memo, contract, letter, emails, etc)
Drawing – both artistic and drafting ( most people have not developed their hand drawing skills these days)
Computer Programs- Sketch-up, all of Adobe Suite, all of Microsoft Office (or similar) and Auto-cad
Design – Graphic, Photo, and Web
Marketing – Many issues are similar to outreach approaches in Urban Design projects
Travel – Study abroad, learn your area and details, photo library of places you know (this will be useful as you build it longterm)
Study – Take The Simon Fraser “City Program”
April 8, 2008 at 8:48 am frankpacella
Once again, Stephen Rees has posted a summary of the interview with architect and developer Stanley Kwok, as part of the Paradise Makers series – April 4, 2008
You can read it here on Stephen’s blog.
April 7, 2008 at 11:53 am pricetags
More responses to Jesse’s question:
Harry Harker in Red Deer:
My 2 cents of advice is … Take a fine arts course or two that teach sketching, use of color, and working with landscapes; add to that or balance that with sciences that allow the student to better understand the “hard side” of the urban world; and lastly get a good grounding in history and geography so the meaning and importance of “place” can be appreciated early on.
Terry Crowe in Richmond, BC:
Speed reading, typing, public speaking, negotiating, writing, editing, strategic planning, visioning, urban land economics, planning, statistics.
I think language and public speaking abilities are very important.
As for high school courses, there are the obvious ones: geography, art and even some construction courses to know how buildings work. Oh, and did I mention English?
Focus on the visual arts and learn how to draw (everyone can be taught). Travel and observation (seeing vs looking) through photography and sketching is essential. All towards landscape architecture as the best place to pursue urban design interests (Allan Jacobs has written extensively about this). Also, get involved in civic discussions. Attend charrettes and zoning meetings. Visit an architect. Here is an interesting website by a close friend that may also be of interest (I invited her up for a City Programme event many years ago).
Surf the net on “built environment education” for lots of other stuff.
April 4, 2008 at 4:54 pm frankpacella
In response to Jesse’s question:
Mark Holland recommends:
- Urban geography or geography of any type
- Economics of any sort
- Governance / comparative government / political science of any typ
Martin Thomas suggests:
Firstly the 15 year old boy/girl needs a few extra English courses, especially report writing, as he /she will be compiling proposals and writing reports for public and municipal councils PLUS get involved with a debating group as public speaking is a great plus as many people today can not stand up in front of folk and talk. If you wish to take this up a notch from basics…
Next 3 years: summer jobs as a “go-for” in an office. Example in a planning department, environmental firm or an urban design /engineering company
University years: planning courses, environmental courses, writing courses, plus any urban design courses, and to top it off a course on the municipal act now known as the community act.
Doug Paterson, UBC, says:
I belive that urban design is an interdisciplinary activity; it requires the knowledge and talents of many different professionals. As such, an individual can come to the table to discuss what makes a “better designed” city from urban economics; sociology; ecology; architecture, landscape architecture and planning; philosophy, etc.
To reduce urban design to the design a pleasant streets, pretty plazas, etc, is little more than a confused, simplistic version of the role of the landscape architects in the discussion – something most landscape architects understand but others apparently don’t.
(This is not a rant)
Lisa Berg, Senior Land Use & Community Planner, has the following to say:
I would recommend looking through the course requirements for the various university programs offered. Look at the prerequisites for first getting into the university, and then look at the specific courses tailored for the urban design/planning program. Core high school topics to match up could include: geography, economics, political science, English, computer studies (GIS), social studies, English, law, etc. It all boils down to having the necessary prerequisites to getting into the planning school in the first place. Once you’re in university, you really start tailoring it there. If possible, attend a career day at a local university or college.
Depending on the type of degree you are thinking of pursuing, you may want to focus on sciences for a BSc (Math, biology, chemistry, geography, ecology) or for a BA you may need things like Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, English, Canadian Gov’t and law, etc. I took a variety of all of these at both the college level (first year university transfer type science courses) and then was able to move right into the planning program at my chosen university. In high school I focused on English, French, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Art, Social Studies and Western Civilization. I ended up with a BSc in Environmental Planning from UNBC, a diploma in GIS from the College of New Caledonia, and the SFU Urban Design diploma. If you are looking specifically at urban design, you should also look at taking graphics courses, art classes or other design or drawing courses. I found having a bit of an art background helped in the planning design courses I
Other tips that I found very helpful during my studies were being able to type well & being a good writer (lots of essays & take home exams to write in university!), being a good reader (lots & lots of reading!) and to be
comfortable speaking in front of an audience (lots of presentations!) and group settings (lots of group work!). Being a good presenter and being able to get up in front of a crowd at a public meeting or a public hearing and delivering information is essential in the real world. If you have a fear of public speaking, conquering it now will benefit you tremendously in the future!! As well, when hiring new planners, we look for people that are confident, good writers, good public speakers and know how to work as part of a team.
April 4, 2008 at 4:41 pm frankpacella
Frank Ducote is the first to respond to Jesse’s Question:
Why wait until later? Start now being a critic of urbanism and places right here in one of the best learning labs in the world – Vancouver. Select a few cool and not so cool places in the city and try to understand what makes them good, comfortable and supportive of human use and enjoyment – or not.
Also suggest ideas for improving or repairing such places – before and after diagrams, doodles and thumbnail sketches. You can draw right on photos to show your ideas.
Keep a sketchbook to record your thoughts and ideas. Keep good notes. Learn how to estimate distances and heights by pacing things off. Ask yourself, can people’s feelings and interactions be enhanced through changes to their physical setting?
Also, go to the library and read a few key books on this subject, even if they may seem to be over your head now. I’d start with Jane Jacobs’ “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Then maybe Kevin Lynch’s “Image of the City.”
(Great simple tools for note-taking.) Start a small library of your own. Go online to pps.org and Gordon Price’s Price Tags and other blogs to read what’s going on. Read Trevor Boddy’s articles in the Globe & Mail, online for free.
Finally and importantly, attend free public lectures at SFU Downtown!
Last, develop a philosophy about what makes a city, neighbourhood, park or place “good”. Write it down. Keep learning from the world around you and from those who think about this subject for a living, and also from those who don’t.
April 4, 2008 at 3:56 pm pricetags
Here at the City Program we often get asked questions about training and education in urban design – like this one from 15-year-old Jesse:
hey there i am a student at the grade 10 level and i am very interested in persueing a career in urban designing i was wondering if you would be able to get back to me on what subjects i would need to help me off a little later in life like when i get to university and also the subjects you think i should be doing in high school.
Texted from his cell phone, I’m guessing.
A good question, though – and one we sent out to our instructors. Add your own thoughts in the ‘comments section.’
April 4, 2008 at 8:08 am pricetags
Missed the lecture? Watch the video …
April 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm pricetags