Transport Futures Pop Out: Tools for Empathy and Storytelling in Urban Planning

Planners need tools to understand and connect with people’s aspirations, needs, and desires. Their users may range from other colleagues from within their organization to external users, such as clients, community members, planning commissioners, department heads, mayors, and funding agencies. They need to explain why and how they do their work. In understanding their users, planners are better able to meet the mandate of serving the public. So what happens when we introduce design thinking to planners?

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Learning from the Terrassenhaussiedlung in St. Peter-Graz, Austria

Over the Thanksgiving break, I traveled to Graz, the second largest city in Austria (population: 270,000) to be part of the Architectural Research Lecture Series organized by the Institute of Architectural Theory, Art History and Cultural Studies at the Technische Universität Graz.

Similar to the Urban Studies Program and the Human Cities Initiative, the Institute approaches theoretical and historical questions in architecture from inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives and works across disciplines and methods. Getting there took a 13+ hour journey and two flights, but I was thrilled for the opportunity to share my work with faculty and students.

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On land and new narratives

This weekend, I had the chance to visit the Albany Bulb for the first time. Formerly a landfill construction debris dump, then the home to a small community and their art pieces, and finally the site of eviction and potentially a redeveloped park for the regional park system, the Bulb has an interesting history that makes you think about rights to ownership, cultivation and settlement, and wilderness in the middle of a highly urbanized place. The entire time, we could peer out at the edge of the water and see the San Francisco skyline from across the Bay.

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