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10 Renowned Urban Planners

Urban Planning, also known as city planning, town planning, regional planning or rural planning, is the process of developing and designing urban areas using the art of giving shape, design and structure to the towns and cities. It involves various processes ranging from determining the land use to allocating space for amenities at neighbourhood level. Importance and need of urban planning are realised when the city and its people face challenges. This is where the role of Urban Planners come into play as they have the knowledge and skill set to address these challenging issues and provide relief to the urban areas and its residents.

Renowned urban planners

Though Planning has never been a well-known field, few people have made mark in the history through their amazing works. This is also the reason that most of the renowned Planners originally or simultaneously belonged to some other field of knowledge as well and were not from pure Planning background. Below listed are some renowned Urban Planners from across the world who have worked for the betterment of this profession, society and people at large.

1. Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier was a 20th century architect and planner. He designed buildings or proposed city planning schemes for various cities including Geneva, Stockholm, Paris, Marseilles, Algiers, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Chandigarh, India. He promoted hierarchy, hugeness and centralism in city structure and was highly influential in leading other modern architects in the same direction. His influence on contemporary architecture is immeasurable. He helped in forming the basis of almost all modernist architecture and urban planning with almost all contemporary theory essentially acting as a continuation of, or a rejection of, his ideals.

2. Kevin A. Lynch

Kevin Andrew Lynch was an American urban planner and author who is known for his work on the perpetual form of urban environments and was an early proponent of mental mapping. His most influential works include ‘The Image of the City’ highlighting how people perceive their city, ‘City Sense and City Design’ was the first of its kind highlighting the importance of design principles in urban planning and ‘What time is this place?’ theorizes how the physical environment captures and redesigns temporal procedures. Lynch’s works also influenced humanistic design planning and environmental psychology. Even 21st century concepts of placemaking and place design are highly based on Lynch’s work. Moreover, the participatory and co-design principles in Urban Planning have the basis of his work.

Also Read: Influence on Urban Planning by Kevin A. Lynch

3. Ebenezer Howard

Sir Ebenezer Howard was an English urban planner and founder of the famous Garden City Movement. He is well known for his publication ‘To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real reform’ describing a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together with nature. Through this, he aimed to reduce the alienation of humans and society from nature. This publication eventually resulted in the founding of the garden city movement, which influenced urban planning throughout the world and the building of first Letchworth Garden City. This was attempted to reverse the large-scale migration of people from rural areas and small towns to cities, which were becoming overpopulated.

4. Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs was an urbanist and activist with no formal training as a planner. Yet, she is known to champion a fresh, community-based approach to city building with the help of her clear and original observations on urban life and the related problems. In 1961, Jacobs introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail in her book named ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’. She was a firm believer in the importance of local residents’ involvement on how their neighbourhoods develop and encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work and play.

5. Patrick Geddes

Patrick Geddes was a Scottish biologist and sociologist. He was known for his innovative thinking in the field of urban planning and was one of the modern pioneers of the concept of town and regional planning. Moreover, he was the one who introduced the concept of “region” to the field of planning and is also known to have formulated the term ‘conurbation’. He developed an innovative philosophy of urban planning which was summarised in his books City Development (!904) and Cities in Evolution (1915). Geddes developed a new approach of “Work, Place, Folk” to regional and town planning which was inspired by the French sociologist Frederic Le Playʼs (1802–1886) triad of ʻLieu, Travail, Familleʼ.

6. Clarence S. Stein

Clarence Samuel Stein was an American urban planner, architect and a writer. He was a major proponent of the garden city movement in the United States. He applied Howard’s Garden City ideas to two important developments – Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, NYC, and Radburn, NJ. Along with his other colleagues, Stein founded the Regional Planning Association of America in 1923 to address major planning issues. Through this association, he envisioned widespread reform of U.S. planning and design practices focusing on the high-density urban housing and the residential subdivision which in turn also promoted solutions to urban overcrowding.

7. Edmund N. Bacon

Edmund Norwood Bacon was a leading American urban planner, architect and author. He was director of Philadelphia’s City Planning Commission from 1949-1970 and the only city planner ever to be featured on the cover of Time magazine for an issue commemorating urban renewal in America. His vision shaped the present Philadelphia, the city in which he was born, to the extent that he is sometimes called as “The Father of Modern Philadelphia”. His book Design of Cities (1967) is still considered a seminal text on contemporary urban planning. He also produced “Understanding Cities”, a series of films on city planning.

8. Lewis Mumford

Lewis Mumford was an American historian and social philosopher who produced a broad critique of technology and science complemented by studies of art, architecture and urban life. He was highly influenced by the writings of Patrick Geddes as a student who was a pioneer of modern planning. Mumford was internationally known for his writings on cities, technology, architecture, literature and modern life and was called “the last of the great humanists”. In 1923, Mumford was a cofounder of the Regional Planning Association of America, along with Clarence Stein and others. Some of his famous works include Technics and Civilization (1934), The Culture of Cities (1938), The Condition of Man (1944), and The Conduct of Life (1951), etc.

Also Read: List of Famous Urban Planners 

9. Robert Moses

Robert Moses was known as the “master builder” of mid-20th century New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, New York. He was one of the most polarizing and powerful figures in the history of United States urban development. His urban planning philosophy was so car oriented that he changed shorelines, built roadways and transformed neighbourhoods. His decisions favoured highways over public transit and so his works remain extremely controversial. His philosophy helped creating modern suburbs of Long Island and influenced a generation of urban planners, architects and engineers. However, on the other hand, his critics claim that he preferred automobiles over people.

10. Norman Krumholz

Norman Krumholz was a planner, educator and author. He was a former director of Cleveland city planning commission (1969-1979) and Cleveland State University professor who worked to make equity a central part of urban planning and embodied equity planning in theory and practice. During his tenure as the Planning Director, he commissioned a path breaking Policy Planning Report which aimed to promote greater equity within the city and the region under the first African American mayor a major US city. He was a strong civil rights advocate who understood the need for planners in government to work strategically with communities of colour and grass roots movements. He supported strong and responsible government and opposed public-private partnerships.

Related

The field of Urban Planning has seen immense growth in the past decade in country to become an indispensable discipline as there is an increase in the flow of population entering the cities which is ultimately resulting in scarcity of resources. Planners have the power to make thoughtful interventions and improve the quality of life of people with a holistic approach.