My Experience With The Urban Design Committee
By: Avery Harmon
My first introduction to the Urban Design Committee was at the 2016 American Institute of Architect’s Christmas Party hosted at the War Memorial in Downtown Baltimore. My former boss and now good friend, Kelly Quinn, recognized my interest in the urban planning field and invited me as her guest to connect me with local planners, architects, and others that would help to solidify my desire to pursue a career impacting the built environment. Zevi Thomas invited me to attend the next Urban Design Committee meeting and I was more than excited to go. Finally, the text and videos I had been consuming to educate myself on topics of planning were now being translated to the context of a city that I had come to truly appreciate. For all the challenges Baltimore has, I believed that urban planning was a critical resource necessary to achieving its utmost potential and that UDC would provide a space to explore this concept.
I would come to attend the monthly Urban Design Committee meetings in the basement of the AIA building. Initially feeling out of place given my lack of experience in the design field, I was warmly embraced by members of UDC and quickly found myself looking forward to each month’s meeting. For at least one hour, I was able to listen and engage with a group of insightful, experienced, and collaborative professionals who also believed in the potential for urban design to create a better city.
These experiences shaped my earliest perceptions of the planning field and were critical to my eventual application to, and completion of a graduate city planning program. Although I no longer live in Baltimore, I often reflect on my experiences in the city in defining my understanding of how American cities operate and the role of urban design in creating the existing conditions under which we live. Overall, I’m incredibly appreciative of the UDC for helping to shape my career and introducing me to a variety of people that care deeply for the city of Baltimore. I’m excited to track the future of the organization with leaders like Renata Southard and Sam Lynch.