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Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools
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Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

72 min

This course is eligible for 1.25 AICP CM credits.


Urban design is typically taught at American universities as a two or three year program, but instructor Emily Talen believes it can much more accessible. In fact, the tools used to communicate urban design concepts and interventions—Google Earth, GIS, SketchUp, image manipulation—are free, easy to learn, and transformative. With our knowledge about planning principles and the design of place in hand, these communication tools fundamentally change who can claim the role of urban designer. This eight course series explores essential urban design concepts through free, open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

The first course introduces the open source software you’ll use throughout the series to create analytical maps, 3D models, and 2D graphic designs. You’ll learn how to download the software, the basic tools and functionality of each program, and how these skills can contribute to the design process.

In This Course

  1. Emily Talen outlines the goals and content of the "Urban Design for Planners" series and introduces the first course.
  2. This chapter explores some of the ways that planning and design intersect as well as the key principles that guide the exercises in this series.
  3. Learn about the software and GIS data used in the course.
  4. GIMP: Creating a Symbol
    GIMP is the raster-based, open source alternative to Adobe Photoshop. This chapter demonstrates how to take a design idea from Google Earth and translate it into a symbol.
  5. Inkscape: Basics Functions
    Inkscape is the vector-based, open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. This chapter walks through the process of downloading Inkscape and some of its basic tools and functions.
  6. QGIS: Loading Data and Using Layers
    Learn how to import data and manipulate layers in QGIS.
  7. Developing a Graphic Style
    This chapter provides ideas and tips for building a graphical representation of your GIS layers.
  8. SketchUp: Downloading and Using Plugins
    Emily Talen wraps up the course by demonstrating how to configure SketchUp for DXF files and how to find and use plugins.

Published 2014