Faculty Appoints New Director of Urban Design & Planning

19 March 2012

Associate Professor Roderick Simpson joined the faculty late last year, while maintaining active involvement in his architectural firm, Simpson+Wilson. He brings a wealth of experience and insight from the private sector to academia. The faculty is excited by the synergies that can be leveraged from Rod's involvement in research and student teaching.

Rod's approach to urban design is nuanced. He is critically interested in the way that interaction between stakeholders in design projects are structured. Rod understands this process as a game and considers the design of the 'rules' of urban design often more important than the individual project.

"When you think of 'design' you usually think of buildings, locations and places. It is the design processes - the legal, political, financial, cultural and administrative aspects - that support and sustain what a city will be. It is these aspects that I like to focus on in urban design," Rod says.

Rod has approached his position with the Faculty from the perspective of an industry practitioner. He will bring this expertise into the classroom with students in the Urban Design program.

"I'm keen for the course to emulate practice. I want students to explore these connections with the community, with business, politics and finance. I want them to know what it is like to be in front of a hundred irate residents, to present to a mayor or to convince an investor that a lower-revenue, higher-profit option is better both for them and for the public interest.

"I hope to bring in people from practice to participate in the course because the format of urban design is always about conversation, engagement and collaboration. At its very essence, these are the skills that are important for students to experience first hand."

There are lots of theorists and they influence your work by varying amounts, but my understanding and passion, my interest in urban design, is continually driven by the shifts in understanding that come from listening to and engaging with people using the city. That's why I think engagement and emulation of practice is so important,".

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