Create plans for parks, streets, and other public infrastructure.
What does an Urban Designer do?
Central Park in New York. The lakefront in Chicago. Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Parks and public spaces like these are often a city’s best and most beautiful feature. And it’s all thanks to urban designers who are responsible for the arrangement, appearance, and functionality of cities, parks, public transportation systems, and other public spaces.
An urban designer is different from an urban planner, who’s usually in charge of the residential, commercial, and industrial zoning of cities. You, on the other hand, plan out the actual public spaces within those zones. In the case of a park, for instance, you determine its size, shape, layout, and amenities (does it have a playground, a running path, a basketball court, or an amphitheater?).
Your goal is to maximize the use of space while meeting community needs. Because you don’t do the specific design and construction—that’s left for architects and engineers—you’re something of a project manager, responsible for surveying land and making design recommendations that take into account aesthetics, geography, accessibility, function, and safety. Put in modern terms: You’re like a level designer in the video game industry. Instead of virtual spaces, however, you create real ones!