City and Regional Planning

North Dakota Boomtowns

Spring 2015 Studio

Around the country oil and gas boomtowns are facing extraordinary development pressures and social change that are transforming formerly rural or agricultural-based settlement patterns.  The studio used the  Bakken Region of the Western North Dakota as a case study for how communities can plan for the economic cycles of boomtowns and create strong diverse economies once the boom is over.  The 19 counties in Western North Dakota were the subject of a HUD-funded Sustainable Communities Planning Grant, which served as the basis for the studio understanding and further research into the socio-economic dynamics of boomtowns.  With projections of growth by 50% of current population over the next 20 years, students proposed development typologies for downtowns and growth areas that were 50% less land consumptive than the current trend. The students also proposed economic diversification strategies that included linkages between extraction processes and agricultural diversification and manufacturing.