About the Urban Design Lab

The Urban Design Lab (UDL) is an innovative and award-winning architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and planning organization housed in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. The UDL seeks to blur the boundaries between academia and professional practice by engaging real world projects with real clients, stakeholders and user groups, while promoting service-based learning, public outreach and research on the planning, design and development of streets, parks, buildings, and cities in an ethical and sustainable way.

The Urban Design Lab mission is to support student education through project-based service learning. We do this by committing to a collaborative and contextual approach to spatial design practices and to the planning of unique and sustainable landscapes, urban spaces, communities, cities and regions. We use a mode of practice that engages the client – and a wider spectrum of users and stakeholders – to generate knowledge to inform the visioning and design process, employing a transparent, collaborative, and consensus-building approach.

On each project, University of Oregon students – led by design and planning professionals – work with real clients and stakeholders. The Urban Design Lab focuses on integrating social, cultural, economic and ecological sustainability into the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the sustainable operation of a building, neighborhood, city, or region. We concentrate in the preparation of visioning programs, master plans and conceptual designs, post-occupancy evaluations, in-depth case studies of colleges, streets, and urban environments throughout the Pacific Northwest, California and most recently in Vietnam, for a wide array of clients – including non-profit institutions, private developers, government agencies, and religious organizations.

Projects include concept designs for educational and office buildings in Eugene, Oregon; the master plan for Lane Community College, plans for compact a mixed-use town in Damascus, OR, and a master plan for the historic downtown core of Cottage Grove, OR. Additionally, the UDL has developed over 10 form-based codes for projects ranging from city parks to the development of new towns.

Our most recent project focused on creating a sustainable approach for development of a 2,000- hectare site in Quy Nhon, Vietnam. This coastal city is transitioning away from an agrarian economy to one based on services and tourism. Program elements for the four design alternatives include commercial and housing neighborhoods, a mixed-use center with museums and other cultural attractions, and a tourist district adjacent to a developed beachfront. This work was coordinated with CalPoly San Louis Obispo, the Frank Lloyd Wright School, private developers and city and country officials in Vietnam.


UDL Staff

Mark L. Gillem, PhD, AIA, AICP, Director Urban Design Lab. Associate Professor Mark Gillem teaches architecture and urban design in the Department of Architecture at the University of Oregon. In the studio, he challenges students to balance theory and practice through participation in community design and interaction with clients, fostering collaboration in the shaping of sustainable urban form. Dr. Gillem’s owns the planning and urban design firm The Urban Collaborative. He is also the Director of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environment (IASTE). Dr Gillem holds a Ph.D. (Architecture) University of California, Berkeley 2004; M.Arch. University of California, Berkeley, 1996; B.Arch. University of Kansas, 1989 Registered Architect: California, South Dakota; Certified Planner: American Institute of Certified Planners.

Barry Gordon, AICP, Assistant Director Urban Design Lab. Barry Gordon is a Adjunct Instructor and Adjunct Research Assistant at the University of Oregon. As adjunct research assistant he is the lead project manager for Urban Design Lab projects. He assists in teaching studios, facilitates workshops and project development. As adjunct instructor, he co-teaches urban design and landscape architecture studios and media classes. He works full-time as a certified planner and project manager at The Urban Collaborative. Mr. Gordon holds a M.LA University of Oregon, 2010; M.CRP University of Oregon, 2010; B. Community Development & Applied Economics University of Vermont, 1996; Certified Planner: American Institute of Certified Planners.

Lanbin Ren, PhD, Assistant Director – China, Urban Design Lab. Lanbin Ren is an Adjunct Instructor and Research Assistant at the University of Oregon. Her professional experience includes architecture design, land use planning and urban design. She assists in teaching studios and seminars for undergraduate and graduate architecture and landscape architecture courses. A native of China, Lanbin holds an M.Arch University of Cincinnati and an M.Arch South China University of Technology.

For more on the lab, please see: http://aaablogs.uoregon.edu/udl/

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