MURP Students Receive National Student Project Award for "Fourth Plain Forward"
Author: College of Urban & Public Affairs
Posted: March 3, 2016

A group of recent graduates from the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program at PSU’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning received a 2016 Student Project Award from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) for their Planning Workshop project, "Fourth Plain Forward: An Action Plan for Vancouver's Multicultural Business District." Planning Workshop serves as a capstone experience for the MURP degree, with students working in teams of five to six to develop plans that meet the needs of their community partners. This is the sixth time in the last 10 years that a Planning Workshop project has won a national award, the most of any planning program in the country. 

The student project team was comprised of Jamin Kimmell, Kate Rogers, Eduardo Montejo, Anthony Thompson, Mandia Gonzales, and Lauren Patton. Workshop instructors included Dr. Sy Adler, Dr. Marisa A. Zapata, and Susan Hartnett. The student team prepared Fourth Plain Forward for Vancouver’s Department of Community and Economic Development. 

Fourth Plain Forward addresses an increasingly common set of challenges faced by planners in communities like Vancouver: promoting neighborhood revitalization and inclusive development in a diverse and multicultural—but low‐income and civically disengaged—community; creating safe and inviting pedestrian and public spaces amid an auto‐dominated urban form and disinvested building stock; and engaging and empowering the community through the planning process. 

“The neighborhoods adjacent to the Fourth Plain Forward study area are the most ethnically and economically diverse in the city,” says Chad Eiken, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Vancouver. “In recognition of this, the student team developed and managed an extensive public involvement process, which provided numerous opportunities for residents and businesses to engage.” 

The team focused on identifying actions that support small businesses, provide economic opportunities for families, and leverage the benefits of transit investment. The team chose to focus on Fourth Plain between Fort Vancouver Way and Fairmount Avenue, and the surrounding neighborhoods of Maplewood and Fourth Plain Village. The team analyzed existing conditions, engaged business owners, residents, and community leaders for input, researched best practices, and crafted a set of recommended actions.

“Fourth Plain Forward has helped to focus both city and community stakeholders around the future of the corridor,” says Dr. Jennifer Dill, Director of the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. “It represents a good model of thoughtful, reflective, and inclusive planning toward the promotion of more equitable and vibrant communities, and an excellent example of PSU’s mission to ‘Let Knowledge Serve.'” 

The AICP is the American Planning Association's professional institute and the recognized leader in certifying professional planners and promoting ethical planning, professional development, planning education, and standards of practice. Winners will be recognized at the 2016 National Planning Conference in Phoenix.

The College of Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA) at Portland State University houses three schools— the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, the Hatfield School of Government and the School of Community Health—and 20 centers and institutes that engage in applied research and scholarship. CUPA offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in a dynamic environment of cooperation, allowing students to implement solutions to modern challenges through hands-on internships and experiential classrooms.