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Peter Park

Title: Loeb Fellow, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Former Planning Director, City of Denver
NACTO Title: Speaker, Designing Cities Conference

Peter J. Park is a city planner that has led innovative private and public sector practice for over 20 years. He served as the Manager of the Community Planning and Development Department for the City and County of Denver and was responsible for Denver’s planning, zoning, construction permit and inspection services.  Prior to his post in Denver, he served as City Planning Director in Milwaukee where he was instrumental in establishing a disciplined approach to comprehensive planning, raising awareness of design, creating the Milwaukee Development Center (consolidating planning, zoning and construction permit functions), and streamlining development review procedures. Most recently, Mr. Park was the 2012 Lincoln Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. During his fellowship, he researched opportunities for replacing elevated highways in cities with reconnected and enriched street networks, application of Form-based codes at citywide scales, and new technologies for community engagement.

Mr. Park specializes in innovative solutions that balance development needs with unique context, site, and design quality concerns. His integrated approach to comprehensive planning, urban design, and development review has created clear visions for sustainable urban development, places of high quality design, and streamlined permitting systems. He has overseen preparation of numerous plans, comprehensive zoning code updates, and implementation of major infrastructure and development projects.

In Denver, he led major initiatives that implement Blueprint Denver, the city’s integrated land use and transportation plan. Major accomplishments include the Denver Transit Oriented Development Strategic Plan that serves as the foundation for Denver’s future growth around FasTracks (the nation’s largest regional transit expansion project); an innovative Context and Form-based Zoning Code applied citywide; numerous corridor, neighborhood, and transit-station area plans; and a new vision for Downtown Denver that ensures it remains the sustainable heart of the Denver region. In 2010, his team led a multi-agency effort that was awarded nearly $3 million in HUD Community Challenge and DOT TIGER II funding for work related to TOD implementation, affordable housing, healthy eating/living, and community capacity building.

In Milwaukee, significant projects include the replacement of the elevated Park East freeway with an at-grade boulevard that catalyzes new downtown development and the Beerline B, a new mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood along the Milwaukee River. Both of these urban redevelopments follow implementation strategies guided by Form-based codes and carefully designed infrastructure.

In both cities, Mr. Park oversaw comprehensive zoning code and map replacements that deliver innovation with practical results. The updated zoning codes in Milwaukee and Denver streamline development permitting, guide high quality design, and implement the urban vision identified in the Comprehensive Plans in both cities. Through extensive interdepartmental coordination and public engagement, both zoning codes received broad community support and were unanimously adopted.

Mr. Park teaches at the University of Colorado at Denver and was instrumental in reshaping its Master of Urban Design Program.  Previously, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and coordinated the Joint Master of Architecture/Master of Urban Planning program. Over the last 20 years, he has focused on integrating teaching and practice. The work explored in his urban design studios has significantly influenced real world planning and development outcomes such as the removal of the Park East Freeway in Milwaukee and adoption of the Denver Zoning Code.  He is currently a Visiting Design Critic in Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design sponsored by the Loeb Fellowship.