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Loveless Engages Students Through UrbanPlan.

UrbanPlan is a realistic, engaging exercise in which participants—high school students, university students, or public officials—learn about the fundamental forces that affect real estate development in our communities.  Participants experience the challenging issues, private and public sector roles, complex trade-offs, and fundamental economics in play when proposing realistic land use solutions to vexing growth challenges.

UrbanPlan aims to develop land use professionals–developers, planners, architects, investors, and policymakers–who are more sophisticated and effective when they enter the workforce.  UrbanPlan moves students from a theoretical and ideological understanding of their discipline to the practical realities and demands of the development team and process. In addition, the module is a challenging team building exercise and introduction to Urban Land Institute (ULI) and key leaders in the industry. 

In order to serve as a classroom volunteer at strategic times during the project, Dan Loveless, a Civil Senior Project Engineer at WRA,  partook in a half-day training session, where he was assigned roles in the development team and engaged in a “lightning-round” version of the exercise.  Now that Dan is trained, he can serve in participating classrooms during the school year in opportunities lasting 1-3 hours.  

In December 2018, Dan used the Socratic method of questioning to help students address perplexing financial, market, social, political, and design issues, develop a pro forma, and create three-dimensional models of their development plans.  Dan visited several teams and challenged the students to think more critically about the UrbanPlan issues and the specific responsibilities of their “roles” (Financial Analyst, Marketing Director, Site Planner, City Liaison, Neighborhood Liaison). Dan also engaged in interactive discussions with students on his own project work at WRA including specific professional challenges. Through thoughtful questioning, Dan helped students relate these issues and decisions to dynamics the students are experiencing in UrbanPlan.  Dan’s insight helped the teams be prepared when they presented their proposal to a “City Council” of ULI members that awarded the development contract to the winning team.

Dan will stay involved in ULI’s UrbanPlan experience in 2019 by engaging Bowie State University students in the spring as well as other participating classrooms in the future.

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