City planning, sometimes called “urban planning,” focuses on the quality of life in cities, suburbs, towns and villages. Just like a doctor needs to know about the systems of the body in order to treat a patient, city planners need to know about the systems of the cities where they work.
When planning a city, planners must consider many factors, including the economy, the environment, and cultural and transportation needs. City planners also must understand current uses of existing buildings, roads and facilities in their city, as well as how these uses may affect the city in the future.
Anticipating future uses of space is critical. This includes thinking about problems that could arise and coming up with solutions to avoid them.
For example, it would be a very bad idea for a city planner to allow a toxic waste dump to be built next to a park. The dump could become a health threat to any residents or children who wanted to use the park. What good would the park serve if nobody could play there?
Another important job of city planners is creating “zones” in cities. Have you ever noticed that in many cities homes are clustered together in certain areas while businesses are clustered together in another? These different areas are called zones.
City planners work with engineers, architects and developers to create and plan buildings that follow the rules for each zone. Zones are important because they determine how different spaces can be used.
For example, if you live in a residential zone, it would be against the rules for a noisy factory to move next door. The factory would have to be built in an industrial zone instead.
In addition to planning zones, city planners also visualize the aesthetics of a city. This means they anticipate the way a city, neighborhood or zone will look as it develops.
For example, when city planners design an aesthetics plan for a retail zone, they may write a set of rules that must be followed. These rules might dictate what type of building materials can be used, such as brick or stucco.
An aesthetics plan can also include requirements for parking lot entrances, trees and green spaces, as well as the type of lettering and lighting used on signage.