Michael Baker’s Urban Design Studio Provides Innovative Solutions to Design Challenges

November 30, 2016

Multi-disciplinary Team at Michael Baker Focuses on Sustainable, Healthy and Vibrant Communities

The recently formed Urban Design Studio (UDS) at Michael Baker International was built on the principle of dedicating its services to projects that improve the physical and social environments of the community. The group is comprised of multi-disciplinary experts in urban design, sustainability, mobility and community-based planning, and aims to deliver innovation and integrated solutions that build more livable communities.
UDS-logo-large.pngThis unique niche is a distinct division of the company’s Planning Practice and positions Michael Baker as more than just a traditional engineering company. The UDS group draws from meaningful public participation as it works to develop creative, context-sensitive design solutions that represent the consensus of multiple stakeholders.  
Some of the key service areas of the group include:
  • Streetscapes: UDS has experience in planning and development of award-winning streetscapes of all scales, which can be as simple as enhanced paving and curbs or more complex like bioretention planting areas, multi-modal design and specialized lighting concepts.
  • Wayfinding and Gateways: Designers work on wayfinding and gateways from multiple levels, starting with a thorough understanding of place and people. The projects span from historic to modern contexts, and can include traditional signage, subtle integration within street furnishings, standalone structures and gathering spaces.
  • Downtown and Neighborhood Revitalization: The team helps communities to reduce land consumption and vehicle travel miles, while at the same time increase service and infrastructure efficiencies. UDS helps to create Downtown District and Corridor Plans to maximize infill opportunities, repurpose land and revitalize aging commercial and mixed-use areas.
  • Healthy Communities: UDS encourages community-based planning that is rooted in strong public participation programs, empowering communities to achieve health goals according to their values and priorities – focusing on social, economic, physical and image. They integrate land use and transportation planning to create policy and implementation tools that improve human health while meeting environmental challenges of the 21st century.
  • Complete Streets: These projects merge the group’s design and engineering capabilities. The UDS team advocates for and works toward the creation of streets that are safe and inclusive of all modes, including people who walk, ride bikes and other people-powered vehicles, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities.
  • Urban Forestry and Agriculture: The UDS team develops urban greening plans to: help find ways to decrease air and water pollution; reduce consumption of natural resources and energy; increase reliability on local water supplies; and adapt to climate change. These plans result in the creation, enhancement and expansion of community green spaces.
  • Community Engagement and Visioning: The team works through all projects by facilitating open dialogue between agencies and the communities they serve with comprehensive and unique strategies. This includes strategic messaging, unique collateral materials, meaningful stakeholder discussions, and interactive workshops.
UDS operates as both a virtual studio, providing Urban Design services to clients and Michael Baker offices, as well as a physical design studio with ‘hubs’ located in Alexandria, Va., San Diego and Irvine, Calif. It is made up of passionate planners, landscape architects, sustainability experts and public health specialists dedicated to offering solutions that are creative, playful, contemporary, productive and ecologically mindful.
Learn more about Michael Baker’s Urban Design specialty, and look for more project features and news from the UDS team in the near future.