Planning & Design Center

The Planning and Design Center (PDC), founded in 2012, is the newest addition to the National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) at the University of Maryland.  The PDC assists local, regional and state agencies in Maryland and across the nation on a wide range of projects. These include land use planning, urban design, integrated land use/transportation planning, economic analysis, agricultural preservation, housing and environmental issues. A particular strength of the PDC is its extensive modeling and visualization capabilities.

The PDC draws on the substantial expertise of the faculty and practitioners associated with the NCSG and throughout the University whose leading scholars can apply their expertise to planning for sustainability. Drawing on Maryland’s 50 years of experience in managing growth and on the national experience of its staff in award-winning work around the country, the PDC assists with comprehensive plans, smart growth audits, corridor planning, MPO scenario-based planning, and multi-modal planning.

The PDC routinely teams with others to add a national perspective to local problem solving efforts. For further information please contact Uri Avin, FAICP, Director of the PDC.

PDC Projects

  • How is the Sustainable Communities Initiative Program Transforming Regional Transportation Planning? FHWA
    Case-study based research on impact of this major federal investment in regional sustainability planning on the process and substance of transportation planning. Team includes AMPO, Cambridge Systematics, and Sheldon Edner of George Mason University.
  • Approach and Tools for Scenario Planning, Atlanta Regional Commission
    Sole source invitation by ARC to convene a small team to advise them on an Exploratory approach to their SHRP2-funded effort to update their regional plan and on appropriate tools to deploy. Team includes Terry Moore of EcoNorthwest, an NSCG Affiliate.
  • Equity in Scenario Work, HUD White Paper Capacity-Building
    Writing of a white paper for Sustainable Community Initiative grantees as commentary on the state-of-the-art and recommendations on best practices for incorporating equity considerations into the creation and evaluation of collaborative regional scenarios.
  • Climate Change Mitigation Analysis, Maryland Department of the Environment
    Uri supervised and participated in a final review of the Governor’s ambitious Statewide Climate Change Plan and developed options for additional land use/transportation mitigation measures and impact assessments on emissions. Analysis of the CAP’s potential to achieve targets was accomplished through statewide parcel-level modeling of mobile and building emissions. Stakeholders included the state Departments of the Environment, Transportation and Planning. Completed in 2013, the work has led to further testing by NCSG of the emissions impacts of transportation projects and has informed several papers by NCSG researchers.
  • Scenario/Sketch Planning Tools for Regional Sustainability, NCHRP Project 8-36, Task 117
    This applied research project primed by Cambridge Systematics with Uri Avin as PI is directed at enhancing planners’ understanding of software tools for regional scenario planning. Involves interviews with practitioners, 8 case studies of applied projects and recommendations for guidance in practice. This 24 month study, begun in 2013, assesses both current and emerging tools and how they relate to various approaches to scenario –based planning.
  • FHWA Guidebook for Performance Based Scenario Planning
    Related to the above project, is a 2014 contract as a subcontractor to ICF International in which Uri is providing guidance on the update of a national guidebook on how to relate performance-based planning, the new federal emphasis, to regional scenario planning, now elevated by federal guidelines as a desired approach for Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
  • Statewide Fiscal Impact Analysis, NCSG
    As part of an internal NCSG’s statewide planning and analysis efforts in 2013-2016, Uri helped develop an analytical framework for a study of statewide infrastructure costs for Maryland’s Roads, Schools and Wastewater Treatment Plants to assess their sensitivity to alternative land use patterns. Such analysis at a statewide scale poses difficult methodological challenges but represents a very important and neglected aspect of regional and statewide smart growth planning nevertheless.


PDC Faculty and Staff

Uri Avin, FAICP, PDC Director and Research Professor
Gerrit Knaap, NCSG Executive Director and Professor
Jason Sartori, NCSG Associate Director