Most Influential Urbanists: Call for Nominees

Change doesn’t happen accidentally. Who are the people shaping cities and communities through the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond?

2 minute read

May 11, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By Planetizen


Black and white photo of two young boys standing on a hill overlooking the Frederick Douglass housing project in Anacostia, D.C.

Photo of Frederick Douglass housing project in Anacostia, D.C. by photographer Gordon Parks, whose work featured the everyday lives of Black Americans and often highlighted social disparities. | Library of Congress / Photo of Frederick Douglass housing project in Anacostia, D.C. by Gordon Parks

The world has changed in a lot of ways since Planetizen last surveyed readers to create a list of Most Influential Urbanists in 2017, and so has urbanism. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted existing problems faced by cities and communities, created new ones, and brought to light structural inequities and vulnerabilities we previously ignored.

Now more than ever, planning and its associated fields can play a crucial role in building healthier, more resilient, more equitable, and more sustainable cities. From public health advocates to housing reform activists, safe streets champions, and disability rights advocates, people from a wide range of communities and professional fields are challenging the status quo and demanding solutions to urban problems that create more equitable outcomes for all residents.

In 2017, we called on readers to nominate people from a broad range of disciplines as well as ethnicities and genders, but we recognize the list wasn’t sufficiently diverse. This time around, we want to further amplify the work and influence of communities of color, women, and the LGBTQI+ community in shaping cities and making them more inclusive, accessible, and safe and highlight the efforts of leaders and organizations that have catalyzed changes at every level of government. We hope our list can reflect the changing demographics of the planning field as well as the growing recognition that the built environment and public policy have significant, and often unequal, impacts on people and communities.

To submit your nominations, please send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Influential Urbanists.” Please share this call widely with the communities you are part of. Also feel free to join the discussion with @planetizen and by using the #topurbanist hashtag on Twitter. We'll release the official results of the “Most Influential Urbanists” poll, and let the voting commence, during the last week of May.

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Urban sidewalk shaded by large mature trees

Cool Walkability Planning

Shadeways (covered sidewalks) and pedways (enclosed, climate controlled walkways) can provide comfortable walkability in hot climates. The Cool Walkshed Index can help plan these facilities.

June 1, 2023 - Todd Litman

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Congestion Pricing Could Be Coming to L.A.

The infamously car-centric city is weighing a proposed congestion pricing pilot program to reduce traffic and encourage public transit use.

May 30, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

A spraling subdivision of single-family detached housing in a desert setting.

Albuquerque Poised to Legalize Accessory Dwelling Units

Allowing ADU construction on parcels previously zoned exclusively for single-family detached housing is one component of the Housing Forward ABQ initiative, a larger effort to reform zoning practices in Albuquerque.

13 minutes ago - Albuquerque Journal

"Welcome to Texas" road sign with Texas flag and "Drive Friendly - the Texas way" slogan

Report: Austin’s State Roads Deadlier Than City Roads

Traffic fatalities and serious injuries grew on state-owned roads in the Texas capital, even as city-owned streets saw death rates plateau.

1 hour ago - Smart Cities Dive

View from lakeside with green grass and pink blooming flowers

Who Benefits Most from Land Conservation Efforts?

A new study estimates that recent land conservation generated $9.8 billion in wealth nationally through the housing market and that wealthier and White households benefited disproportionately.

2 hours ago - PNAS

Project Manager III

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

UDO Transportation Planner

City of Charlotte - Charlotte Area Transit

Write for Planetizen

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.