What is an Urban Planner? (with pictures)

Amy Hunter
Amy Hunter
In its attempt to manage the growth of cities, urban planning aims to coordinate the development of new buildings, influence and adhere to zoning regulations, improve transportation systems and enhance the look of an area.
In its attempt to manage the growth of cities, urban planning aims to coordinate the development of new buildings, influence and adhere to zoning regulations, improve transportation systems and enhance the look of an area.

An urban planner combines skills in land planning, along with transportation planning, to design a community or region that is easy to live in and attractive to look at. Urban planners are typically trained as engineers or architects. They must also have an understanding of many other fields, including the environment, transportation and psychology. Studies have shown that crime, happiness and many other factors are, in a large part, determined by the surroundings someone lives in. Effective urban planning creates a comfortable and safe environment that people will enjoy.

Urban planning often includes setting aside green spaces for community enjoyment.
Urban planning often includes setting aside green spaces for community enjoyment.

Some urban planners design a community from the ground up, while others work in an already populated area to improve the design. When an urban planner works in an area that has fallen into disrepair, in an attempt to improve living conditions, it is called urban renewal. Many urban planners are becoming more involved in sustainable planning. The goal of sustainable planning is to create communities that use fewer natural resources and protect the ecosystem of the area.

Urban planners focus on shared public amenities, such as community parking lots.
Urban planners focus on shared public amenities, such as community parking lots.

Aesthetics are always a concern for urban planners. There are a variety of problems associated with large urban areas that planners try to minimize. They include such things as the urban canyon effect. This is what happens in cities with many high rise buildings. These buildings prevent sunlight from penetrating the concrete below, giving an unnatural shadow on the area at all times.

Urban planners need to factor in traffic concerns when examining roadway needs.
Urban planners need to factor in traffic concerns when examining roadway needs.

Another problem that must be dealt with in urban areas is noise. Constant exposure to noise is physically and emotionally draining. Design issues such as adding trees, and other types of green space, can help absorb noise, as can reducing the number of cars on the street.

Reducing traffic is one of the key components of an urban planner’s job. Reduced traffic means reduced noise and air pollution. An efficient public transportation system is one of the key design features of a well planned community.

Urban planners may propose civil engineering projects such as building tunnels, bridges and roadways.
Urban planners may propose civil engineering projects such as building tunnels, bridges and roadways.

An urban planner must also take into consideration what types of emergencies may strike an area, and how they will be dealt with. Clearly marked, and well designed, evacuation routes out of the city are important, as are properly designed levees, retaining walls or other man-made safety features. When designing these features, it is vital that the urban planner understand the number of people who may need evacuated or sheltered, and plan accordingly.

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    • In its attempt to manage the growth of cities, urban planning aims to coordinate the development of new buildings, influence and adhere to zoning regulations, improve transportation systems and enhance the look of an area.
      In its attempt to manage the growth of cities, urban planning aims to coordinate the development of new buildings, influence and adhere to zoning regulations, improve transportation systems and enhance the look of an area.
    • Urban planning often includes setting aside green spaces for community enjoyment.
      Urban planning often includes setting aside green spaces for community enjoyment.
    • Urban planners focus on shared public amenities, such as community parking lots.
      Urban planners focus on shared public amenities, such as community parking lots.
    • Urban planners need to factor in traffic concerns when examining roadway needs.
      Urban planners need to factor in traffic concerns when examining roadway needs.
    • Urban planners may propose civil engineering projects such as building tunnels, bridges and roadways.
      Urban planners may propose civil engineering projects such as building tunnels, bridges and roadways.