City and Regional Planning

In December of 2016, the UN General Assembly voted to endorse a set of aspirational goals meant to guide the sustainable and equitable development of the world’s cities for the next 15 years. The vision of “cities for all,” enshrined in the New Urban Agenda, had been finalized at Habitat III, an international conference convened by the UN in Quito, that October. The agenda is founded on the principles of ending poverty, inclusive urban planning, and environmentally sustainable land use. Next month, the focus shifts to implementation, when a cohort of Penn faculty will present their research at the ninth biennial World Urban Forum, in Kuala Lumpur.

This post showcases some of the impressive first semester data science work by the MUSA and Planning students in Ken Steif's course, MUSA 507. The students chose from four possible spatial machine learning projects.

The Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood of Germantown has a long and colorful history of Revolutionary War battles, abolitionist protests, the Underground Railroad, suburbanization, the Great Migration, and more.

Even as a decades-long population decline in Philadelphia has appeared to level off and rebound in the last decade, the city has continued to lose more native-born residents than it takes in. To put it another way, immigrants are central to the city’s rebirth.

From BIG-ONE-Sherwood’s proposal in the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge (Watch video)

If Hurricanes Harvey and Irma drove home the threats to coastal cities in the U.S. from climate change—and the role for designers and planners in disaster prevention and mitigation—there was good news this month about efforts to storm-proof the West Coast.

Please welcome Professor Lisa Servon as chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning.

Sam Sklar is a program associate at Smart Growth America/Transportation for America in Washington D.C. Before coming to PennDesign, Sklar worked at Walk Boston, a pedestrian advocacy group in Boston.

Shayda Haghgoo supervising the implementation of her first crosswalk.

Shayda Haghgoo (MCP’16) works for the City and County of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) as a Transportation Planner II. Haghgoo’s work focuses on traffic calming, bicycle and pedestrian planning, and school area safety programs. She talks about a typical day at work, being introduced to Blade Runner by John Landis, and changes in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. 

Penn and MIT researchers looked to the housing sector as one way localities could impact greenhouse gas emissions. These graphs showcase a sequential comparison of 2030 residential energy-conservation scenarios for 11 metro areas. Red represents the baseline. The other three colors signify different scenarios, with and without the Clean Power Plan. In the best-case option, CPP stays in place and cities adopt energy-conservation standards for new homes and retrofitting standards for existing home. Then emissions could potentially drop by 46 percent, on average. 

Worldwide, the United States is one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters. The Obama administration began efforts to drop those numbers by increasing vehicle fuel economy standards in 2011 and with its Clean Power Plan proposals in 2015. But even if implemented as planned, that two-pronged approach would still fall short of the country’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. Local efforts in residential housing and transportation, however, could help make up the difference, according to new findings from PennDesign’s John Landis and Erick Guerra, and David Hsu of MIT.

(Left to right) Kirk McClure, Sandra Newman, Ingrid Ellen, and Alex Schwartz


The past 15 years have been the most turbulent for U.S. housing markets since the Great Depression. Governments at every level—national, state, and especially local—are facing a host of housing affordability, quality, and fair housing challenges.

LA+ is the interdisciplinary journal published by the Department of Landscape Architecture.

Lisa Servon, Professor and Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning, was interviewed on the PBS News Hour about the surprising logic behind the use of check cashers and payday loans. Servon shares her experiences working at various check-cashing businesses in researching her new book, The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives.