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Southron

Generation Gap among design/planning/development professionals?

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Is there a generation gap among professionals in design, planning and development fields? Are younger architects, engineers, planners, and development firm executives more likely to support traditional urbanism than previous generations? If such a gap exists, is it delineated by those who have been trained since New Urbanist/Smart Growth principles were defined and popularized, and perhaps incorporated into professional degree programs? Is there any movement toward renovation and in-fill among younger developers?

I'm asking these questions as a layman concerned about our future built environment, and whether or not we may expect any significant future changes in the course of our suburban build-out.

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Yes. I know of several jurisdications that are either: 1) celebrating because the old timer planning director retired or 2) are waiting for the old timer planning director to retire. There is that old breed of planner that I think is just not willing to embrace the new concepts and ways of doing things (i.e. something other than the standard subdivision). Certainly there are exceptions- but I think that in general places with younger populations of professionals in this field and younger management tend to be more progressive and more accepting of new concepts and ideas.

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I would certainly agree with the first statement in that my career as a Commercial Real Estate Analyst was really incited by my desire to create the 21 St. American city. Realizing that financing is what makes it work, I ented the industry all wide eyed and bushy tailed. Unfortunately, I met with SERIOUS resistance at the thought of working through brownfield development, jewel box acquisition and properties in "marginal" aka gentrifying areas. I do think that will change, but the big institutional players could care less.

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I've definitely noticed a significant age gap in the 2 planning organizations I worked with. But - it may have as much to do with the position & not the age. Obviously the majority of the entry to early mid-level professionals were in their 20's & 30's. The director or manager was typically in their 50's.

But - one possibility for the question of where are all the folks in their 40's - they are in the private sector. Think about the typical planning organization, beyond the planner position, there is a long way until you can get to director. I think a large amount of planners go to the private sector after they gain their 10 years of experience.

So that was a bit off topic, but considering the true grunt, the man out on the line - the planner, has more input in the day to day affairs, they are more likely to have a more varied view of planning than the director. Age is just coincidence, because the director has greater liability to be concerned with - council members. Not to mention all the paper work, there is little chance the director or manager will be involved with what the planner is working on. Now, for that mid-age group, the private sector is more dependent on their client than on selling new urbanism. Certainly - there are private sector planning firms that specialize in new urbanism, but most likely your run of the mill planner in their 40's & 50's is going to be more concerned with their mortgage than convincing a developer they shouldn't build cul-de-sacs.

Just a wild guess, may very well be way off on this...

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"We don't do battle of the web links on this forum so I won't going down that path because it is pointless. "

I will use the generic term design. I agree that an older more mature person should manage younger practitioners however the older person should realize that just reliability and possibly a better academic understanding of the system does not trump the younger person

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I would definitely say that with the almost exclusive use of AutoCAD now in design firms, and the predominant use of it in architecture schools, it has made architecture worse. I'm not talking about the handful of skyscrapers or the avante-garde art museums here and there in just about every city, I'm talking about the thousands of smaller commercial and retail buildings going up around the outskirts of every city. In fact, most developers, GC's or CM's don't even hire architects anymore, and just have an in-house CAD jockey pumping out bland boxy designs that don't push the processing capability of his/her hard drive too much.

It's absolutely pathetic.

Another downside to the advent of technology in building and development has been the sheer amount of outsourcing this design work to developing countries charging pennies on the dollar. Now we have some young kid (probably unlicensed) in India doing schematic drawings for a building that houses hundreds of workers a day.

Since this topic is "supposedly" about design technology, then I'd say it has been bad for the state of affairs for our built environment.

The upside has been the innovations in building materials, construction techniques, and energy saving/LEED/sustainability principles for buildings. And their acceptance seems to know no age boundaries, at least not in our area.

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Can you see a generational gap in public vs. private sector? In the private world, you have to adapt or you'll be out on your a*&. In the public sector, and I think many areas suffer from this, older heads of departments are less apt to change because it might mean more work for them. Additionally, many of these figure heads are appointed, only answer to themselves usually, and are hard to unseat.

I know of a few municipalities where you can't get anything in the realm of TND's past the Public Works departments because narrower streets don't fit their standards. They simply won't adapt and there's a lot of hope from the design community for early retirement. If they're on their way out in a few years, why bother learning something new which leads to a lack of innovation or stagnation in their area.

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I think the answer to this question will be dependent upon the age of the person answering it.

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I think there is a generation gap among planning professionals, BUT, I think this is a very good thing. Planning education has changed over the years so its good that we have young planners bringing new ideas to the table, and at the same time, that we have older planners to shut us up and give us a dose of reality based on their valuable experience. Planning education tends to be much more idealistic nowadays, so its good to have the opinions of those with lots of experience with reality.

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I just recently graduated with a B.B.A. in Real Estate from the University of Georgia. Our program is #2 in the nation, only behind Wharton. Any advice on how to get my "foot in the door"? I am in Atlanta, and the amount of opportunity here is endless. I want to get into development, but it seems so hard to get into at such a young age. Any advice would be much appreciated!

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As an older person, I tend to think that innovation is a mindset that a very small percentage of the population has, across all age groups. Most people, in my experience, are lazy thinkers/workers and are not interested in innovating because it takes them outside of their comfort zone.

Young people who are traditionally educated could have the same sensibilities in large degree as older people.

I think it has more to do with tradition, personality styles and thinking styles than age. I think it is easy to blame it on age, but I don't think that is the real problem.

When I was growing up in the sixties, it was easy to blame everything on age - but now that the hippies are the old people, not much has changed in the way the world looks, and who is in control (in terms of the corporate world, at least on the surface), so it must be something else.

I am old and very interested in innovation and urban design, revitalizing cities and re-thinking space.

I have always been this way. I did not get more traditional as I grew older.

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