Name: Rapheal Randall
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Educational Background: The Ohio State University, Industrial Design, 2006
Planning Concentration: Community Economic Development
How did you get interested in planning?
While I was working as a product designer, a former undergrad classmate of mine who shared similar interests in urban environments, social entrepreneurship and civic engagement, suggested that I read a book titled "Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream". After reading the book, I thought back on how the neighborhood where I grew up helped shape how I saw the world and my importance in it. I began to realize the necessity of vibrant communities and living spaces in the development of well-adjusted, empathetic, and conscientious citizens who would inevitably add to the beauty and complexity of the communal human experience in their locales. Idealistically, planning is a field that participates in the fostering of cohesiveness, connectivity, and community in neighborhoods, cities, and regions, and I wanted to be a part of that.
What was your background prior to coming to Penn?
Before I came to Penn, I worked as both a staff designer at Michael Graves Design Group, and later, a freelancer. While at Graves, I also helped launch an outreach initiative with fellow architects and designers which worked directly with the Princeton Art Councils Arts Xchange program, assisting and teaching homeless children design/art methodology and techniques.
Why did you choose Penn?
I chose Penn because the planning program was situated within the design school, providing an ideal opportunity for cross-pollination between individuals interested in both the policy end of planning as well as the design and development of inspiring built environments. I saw Penn as a school that would provide an exciting academic space where a strong and ambitious cohort of colleagues that would eventually become the future leading thinkers and practitioners of the field would surround me. That has been proven to be the case, without a doubt!
What is your favorite class so far?
My favorite class so far has been my first year Workshop where the team I was on developed a strategic plan for the North Philadelphia District.
Where did you intern?
I am interning at Interface Studio here in Philadelphia. It is an amazing place to work because of their focus on a collaborative resident-driven planning process and the way in which the planners constantly blend urban design and community development policy to create a fresh and innovative standard of neighborhood planning that I hope to emulate throughout my career.
Are you involved in any planning related activities?
I am currently working with my North Philadelphia team to try to get some of the recommendations we suggested as part of the strategic plan created for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission implemented. I am also collaborating with a group of fellow second years in the goal of developing a new PennPlanning student outreach program. More details to come...
What are your career ambitions?
My goal is to start a co-operative interdisciplinary firm where planners, social workers, designers, and community representatives work together to create resilient plans and implement multilayered solutions to deal with issues of workforce development, housing, education, etc. I want to shape a form of planning that takes a more holistic approach.