What is Urban Design?

Urban Design examines elements in the public realm and spaces where people may gather: parks and open spaces, streets and sidewalks, bridges and water bodies, historical features, trees and landscaping, lighting, and signage. Urban design takes a holistic approach towards these physical elements that make up a city and seeks to shape them in ways that create urban environments that are functional, attractive, comfortable, animated, stimulating and safe for all.

Urban Design is the process of shaping a city’s physical form, with the principal goal of elevating the human experience in urban spaces.

The Urban Design Division provides people-centered design solutions that impact the public and private realm and collaborates with other city departments on advocating for great public spaces while adding value to the development review process. The Division provides the following services: 

  • Planning: applies planning principles and practices to advance Imagine Austin and Strategic Direction goals with design-based recommendations to plans, regulations, and guidelines.
  • Design: applies design knowledge, best practices, and an understanding of urban form to improve the function of public spaces for people.
  • Advocate: assists in building stories that elevate the importance of great urban design and shares knowledge about the benefits of excellence in urban design.
  • Activate: brings design solutions to life through implementation by partnering with the community, peer departments and other internal and external stakeholders. 
  • Review: evaluates development plans for adherence to regulations and continually updates standard operating procedures to enhance customer experience.

See Our Current Projects

Visit the Great Streets Program (Web) for more information on HPD's urban design vision and execution of the plans for Downtown Austin.

You can also visit Transit Oriented Development (Web) to see how we are making destinations in the city more accessible through efficient designs that allow for safe and convenient travel by foot or by bicycle, transit, or car.

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