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DC Office of Planning Cultivates Next Generation of Urban Planners

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

(Washington, DC) - The DC Office of Planning worked with groups of local middle and high school students to introduce them to careers in urban planning and design and equip them with skills they can use to shape their communities.

“Educating local students in the fields of planning, architecture and urban design is as important to the future of our city as the work we do at our desks and in the field,” said Harriet Tregoning, Director of the Office of Planning.

On January 6, the Office of Planning, in cooperation with National Capital Planning Commission staff, led urban planning and design fundamentals workshops for six classes at Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School as part of the school’s year-long survey course to explore careers. Phelps re-opened in August 2008 as the nation’s first self-contained, comprehensive high school. Phelps is based on the District’s new model for vocational schools, where students prepare for professional work by developing skills through rigorous academics, pre-apprenticeship programs and hands-on instruction.

On January 9, 25 students from Browne Education Center and Howard Road Academy presented designs for a section of Interstate 395 in downtown Washington where city planners anticipate a deck will be built over the interstate for development on top of the highway. The challenge issued to students from OP staff, the National Building Museum and local architects and urban planners was to reconnect two parts of DC that the interstate divided - Penn Quarter and Union Station. Using teamwork, problem solving and advocacy skills gained through the course of the program, students developed designs that connect the neighborhoods and meet the needs of people who live and work there. This project was part of the Fall 2008 CityVision semester, an award-winning program that uses design as a framework to teach DC public school students how to identify and resolve issues concerning their communities.

For information on these and other OP initiatives, contact Anita Hairston, Chief of Staff, DC Office of Planning, 801 North Capitol Street, NE, Suite 4000, Washington, DC 20002, or by phone at (202) 442-7600, or by email at [email protected].