Urban Retail Course: Harvard GSD Executive Education

Urban Retail: Essential Planning, Design, and Management Practices

Harvard GSD  July 15-17, 2013

July 15-17, 2013

This fast paced program will demonstrate how proven principles of retail development can be combined with the best practices of New Urbanism, Smart Growth, and architectural design to create successful and competitive mixed-use urban commercial centers. Ideal for developers, planners, investors, retailers, architects, and public officials, the program will focus on several topics, among them the required market demographics for various retailers, restaurants, and shopping center typologies including convenience centers, neighborhood centers, power centers, regional malls, and lifestyle centers. The impact of consumer psychographics and techniques for creating place-based brands will also be presented.  The session is based on Robert Gibbs new book: Principles for Urban Retail Planning & Development

Instructors will focus on the actual nuts and bolts of how to program, plan, and design competitive retail in historic downtowns, underperforming shopping centers and new ground-up developments as well as repairing failed suburban centers. The course will cover market research, branding, national retailer criteria, and site-selection principles. Participants will learn about streetscape, store planning, signage, tenant mix, merchandising plans, leasing, anchors' roles and successful new urban planning techniques, design criteria, parking, building, site planning, and developer requirements. The course will also review the synergy among residential, office, civic and governmental land uses and retailer performance.

The instructors will illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of many leading town centers built during the past 20 years. Discussions of trends and techniques for vertical integration of nonretail uses as well as retail storefront design trends and techniques will be featured, and the instructors will share inside secrets for shopping center planning and design and applications for cities and new towns. Also taken into consideration will be the integration of big-box discount retailers in the city and new town centers.  Now in its 19th year. 

New features include:

  • Lessons learned from the leading US urban retail developer, Yaromir Steiner;
    • Lessons learned about creating timeless and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and towns from renowned architect Stefanos Polyzoides;
  • Overview of Gibbs’ new book, Principles of Urban Retail;
  • A look at the hot urban tenants for 2013;
  • A consideration of recession lessons and opportunities;
  • Case studies for top urban town centers and historic downtowns.
    • Lessons learned while creating a new town center from University Place City Manager Steve Sugg.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore planning and design techniques for revitalizing historic town centers and building new mixed-use town (lifestyle) centers.
  • Review the rise and fall of American cities as regional shopping destinations.
  • Apply nuts and bolts techniques for increasing retail sales through streetscape, parking, signage, and pedestrian movements.
  • Examine a successful New Urbanist model for integrating retail into existing historic downtowns, new developments, and suburban retrofits.
  • Gain an insider's understanding of leading retailers and department store business models and site selection criteria.
  • AIA & AICP Continuing Education Credits Available


Robert Gibbs, ASLA, President, Gibbs Planning Group, Birmingham MI

Terry Shook, FAIA, Principal, Shook Kelly, Charlotte NC

Yaromir Steiner, Founder / CEO, Steiner + Associates, Columbus OH

Stefanos Polyzoides, Partner, Moule & Polyzoides Architects, Pasadena, CA

Jane Grabowski-Miller, RLA, ASLA, CNU-A, Vice President, Erdman Devel.  Group, Madison WI

Steven Sugg, City Manager, University Place, WA


      Harvard University Graduate School of Design/ Executive Education

      48 Quincy Street, S102 / Cambridge MA 02138

      Tel: 617-384-7214

      Email execed@gsd.harvard.edu

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