Renaissance Planning Group employs a studio process to ensure the integration of land use, transportation and design for projects at all scales. That studio approach enhances our planning capabilities by infusing our experience and skill set with the knowledge and training of multiple disciplines. We formed our company in 1999 specifically to bring together the various disciplines engaged in community planning in a more holistic way, rejecting the strict separation of practice areas (such as transportation planning and land use planning, or urban design and traffic engineering) that often characterizes the profession and the development process.
As an urban planning firm, we view design as an integral part of all our work. Rather than standing apart from land use planning or environmental design or civil engineering, an urban design perspective is the critical filter through which everything must pass that ultimately gets built in a community. Whenever we plan for something that will one day take a built form, we look at it from an urban design perspective and use this perspective to integrate and combine all the other factors – the economic, physical, social or policy issues that are at play – into a unified and well-designed whole.
Urban design is not ‘above’ any of the core disciplines of planning, economics and engineering; rather, it constitutes a sort of ‘meta discipline’ that integrates and engages the others in a fundamental way. Urban design weaves through all the other disciplines and gives them an additional standard of evaluation. This standard of evaluation asks how well the work of the other disciplines serves our human need for a rich and meaningful quality of life deriving from the built environment. Urban designers must accept all the fundamental principles of the other disciplines, including economic, social and environmental sustainability, but to these, they also add the important standard of how well a built setting supports our human life and how much it enriches our society, our life patterns and our sense of belonging within a distinct place and time.
We view the role of the public as essential to this process. People make choices about their place of residence, place of work and how they interact with their surroundings on a daily basis. Our projects engage the community in the planning and design process to foster meaningful dialogue about values and change, and the opportunities and challenges present. We use an interactive public process to inform and guide the technical analysis, and ultimately shape the plans that emerge.