Thought Leadership

Planning + Urban Design Inroads

New advances in Planning + Urban Design

Making cities is oftentimes portrayed as a tightly controlled, top-down process with well-defined, solvable problems: what is the best density;  how many acres of green space do we need; what will it cost and who pays?  These well-intentioned questions presume that planning and urban design follows tried-and-tested recipes from a professional cookbook.  In practice, creating effective places, whether a big city or a small park, requires unique ingredients, using customized recipes, constrained by the resources on hand. 

Our Planning + Urban Design team engages these opportunities everyday though a process that integrates collective visions with technical pragmatism. With every project we also discover new “inroads” that can make communities economically stronger, resilient, healthier, and socially just.  This  page offers some recent “inroads” that we found the hard way, through a cycle of thinking, planning, making, and thinking again.

Get Started

Hacker Stephanie Cropped

Stephanie Hacker

Practice Area Leader - Planning + Urban Design, AICP, LEED AP
What challenge or opportunity would you like us to tackle? You can reach Stephanie Hacker at 414 / 259 1500 and via email at

Thought Leadership

Elevating Community Engagement

Elevating Community Engagement By Ben Block and Larry Witzling, Ph.D. What Is A “Virtual” Meeting? Continue the Conversation GRAEF’s Planning + Urban Design Group looks forward to discussing these ideas and identifying objectives and actions with each of our clients, communities, and colleagues. Please let us know your thoughts and if you would like to continue…

Read More

Disrupt Comprehensive Planning

Disrupt Comprehensive Planning By Ben Block and Larry Witzling, Ph.D. Nine Silos Have Dismembered Comprehensive Planning Comprehensive planning has a robust history, with differing methodologies emerging from various ideologies and historical movements. For the past two decades, however, most planners in Wisconsin have employed a singular approach for developing comprehensive plans. This approach is based…

Read More

Comprehensive Infrastructure Enables Dynamic Development

Comprehensive Infrastructure Enables Dynamic Development Solving the Dilemma Have you ever been frustrated that your new technology doesn’t fit nicely with your existing setup? It’s the same phenomenon as when a new development project needs a curb cut, parking lot, service entrance, lift station, stormwater pond, or any other piece of infrastructure that was left…

Read More

Resurgent Streets – After the Pandemic

Resurgent Streets – After the Pandemic Can we make streets greater than before? When the pandemic ends, our streets will experience a social explosion. After months of social isolation and pent-up energy, we can expect a grand revival of all our public spaces. This revival will be obvious in dense metro downtowns that are designed…

Read More