Clear, accessible definitions for common urban planning terms.
Often discussed in contrast with single-family zoning, multi-family housing includes buildings and complexes that house more than one household in the same property.
Part of a movement that sought to modernize cities through a rational reorganization of the urban form, "Towers in the Park" is a style of housing development that emphasizes a separation of uses and access to communal green space and amenities.
Housing subsidies can work in numerous ways, all with the common cause of easing the cost burdens of housing.
Displacement—the forced relocation of existing residents and businesses was once a desired outcome of the "urban renewal" projects of the 20th century. In the 21st century, displacement is a highly contested, hard to trace, effect commonly linked to gentrification and urban revitalization.
Known as the archetypal post-war American suburb, Levittown was the first mass-produced housing development and set a standard for planned subdivisions for decades to come.
Thought to be one of the first major urban centers in human civilization, Çatalhöyük was a Neolithic settlement that, at its height, reached a population of close to 10,000 at a time when most humans still lived in small hunter-gatherer bands of several hundred people.
Upzoning is a term used to describe changes to a zoning code made to increase the amount of development allowed in the future.
Floor Area Ratio
Floor area ratio (FAR) is a critical measurement to the field of planning. FAR defines development intensity and determines numerous other regulations and development outcomes.
Inclusionary zoning refers to a range of policies and practices that mandate or provide incentives for the inclusion of affordable housing units in new developments to encourage mixed-income neighborhoods and increase the supply of affordable housing.
Redlining is the practice of restricting investment in areas deemed high-risk by banks. The term refers to the red color used to denote undesirable areas on maps used by lending institutions to determine loan eligibility.
Market-rate housing is a term used to define housing generated by the real estate market without direct subsidy. The price the market sets for housing, even without subsidies, is a direct outcome of policies and practices of planning.
Single-family zoning is by far the most common form of zoning in the United States, but it's facing increasing criticisms both for its discriminatory origins and its sprawling effects.
Density is a controversial topic, but public opinion on the opportunities and risks of density have shifted in recent decades. To many, density now has a positive connotation.
Americans With Disabilities Act
The effects of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act are visible throughout the built environment—on sidewalks, on buses, and in almost every building and public facility in the country.
Parking requirements determine by law the amount of parking developers must include when building new developments. Though a standard of zoning and development codes nationwide, parking requirements are undergoing a process of reform.
Criticized as a key factor in perpetuating housing inequality in the United States, exclusionary zoning refers to a range of policies that, explicitly or implicitly, seek to prevent people of certain races, ethnicities, or income levels from buying homes in specific neighborhoods.
The term affordable housing refers to housing units that cost less than a predetermined percentage of household incomes. Planners use affordable housing as a general term to describe housing that doesn't put an excessive financial burden on occupants.
Gentrification is a process of neighborhood change, usually resulting from an influx of relatively wealthy, white residents to a neighborhood. But that definition, and the controversies that follow, vary greatly by location, and there is no universally accepted definition of the term.
The term affordable housing refers to housing units that cost less than a predetermined percentage of household incomes. Planners use affordable housing as a general term to describe housing that doesn't put an excessive financial burden on its occupants.
the American Community Survey
The American Community Survey offers a treasure trove of social, economic, housing and demographic data.
Central Business Districts
A central business district (CBD) is a geographic area sometimes referred to as downtown, but with key distinctions critical to an understanding of city and regional planning.
New Urbanism is one of the most influential planning and urban design reform movements of recent decades.
Specific Plans are unique to the state of California, but come up frequently in media coverage of planning. Understanding the purpose of Specific Plans can also open a window to understanding of how planning works all over the country.
Complete streets prioritize the safety and mobility of all users instead of the speed of cars and flow of traffic. After a century of prioritizing automobile travel, the concept of complete streets offer a chance to make streets a place to be used and enjoyed rather than glimpsed through a windshield.
Urban planning is the most common term used in the contemporary United States to describe the professional and academic field of planning, but understanding the implications of the term requires a discussion about the history of the word urban and the changing politics of planning.
Euclidean zoning is responsible for the sprawling, suburban character of much of the built environment in the United States.
Form-based codes are a variety of development regulation that departs significantly from the land use control approach of most zoning codes in the United States.
Local governments use zoning codes to define what can and cannot be built. While comprehensive plans and other kinds of plans lay out a vision for the future, zoning codes offer the legal tools to implement that vision.
Missing Middle Housing
One of the newest terms in the world of urban planning, Missing Middle Housing has generated a lot of attention in recent years as cities around the United States look for ways to create more housing options in a vast sea of single-family homes.
Land use might seem self explanatory, but it has a very specific meaning in the context of U.S. planning history.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Harvard GSD Executive Education
Harvard GSD Executive Education
Sonoma County Transportation Authority
City of Piedmont, CA
City of Morganton
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.