Project Management: Basic Principles of Master Planning and Urban Design

15 January 2019

Urban designers and planners take a big step back from the construction site. Trained to look at the big picture, master planners and their urban designer counterparts bring entire citywide visions to life. That’s something of an intimidating prospect, especially when integrated as part of a project manager’s skill set. To build a picture of their responsibilities, including the field’s various intricate elements, let’s adopt a back-to-basics approach.

A Handful of City Planning Principles

Above all else, as determined by today’s higher planning principles, city designers are humanitarians. The technical consultants who reach this lofty position work incredibly hard to merge natural resources and fuse artificially established city assets. The different elements work together and support each other. Project management executives, those who work in this field, never overwrite nature’s efforts. Having said that, there are urban developments to plan. The new project can’t have any bottlenecks or unrealistic design elements. Balanced and streamlined, the design prevents urban decay while it provides room for city growth.

A Healthy Developmental Approach

So far, master planning sounds like an organic system. An urban project grows, its traffic acts like a root system, and its occupants move like they’re the lifeblood of the area. There’s a lot of truth to that statement, although it needs translating. Converted into engineering principles, the work commences. There are zoning issues to solve. Offices and industrial sites can’t just spring up alongside a new housing complex, after all. Older shopping zones, those that exist on the high street, receive attention. Then there are new open-air malls and shopping centres to add to the mix. Finishing the layout, transportation hubs and channels connect urbanites to their jobs and those shopping nexuses.

Three-Dimensional Infrastructures

An underlying infrastructural layout enters the planning phase after the zoning issues are settled. Communiques have been sent to the local council and planning permits issued. A community sustainability study is ordered. It works in two directions, this study. First of all, will the occupant load negatively impact the environment? Waterways collapse when such matters aren’t handled properly. Viewed from the opposite side, the various utility lines, including water supplies and drainage, can’t fall short of the demands of the area.

And all of this project management work has taken place before a single urban parcel of land has gained a house. Of fundamental importance, the land parcels allocated here have to be developed before the structures can be built. They need to be zoned, sustainability studies need to be run, and environmental concerns absolutely must be dealt with before the extended infrastructural base is blueprinted. The work is challenging, of course, which is why it’s best left in the hands of a master planner or urban designer.

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