PSU Student Team Wins National Planning Award for Umatilla Together: Framework Plan
Author: College of Urban and Public Affairs
Posted: March 3, 2018

A student team from the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning at Portland State University (PSU) has won a 2018 American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Student Project Award in the category of Application of the Planning Process. This award program recognizes outstanding class projects or papers by students in Planning Accreditation Board–accredited programs. This is the eighth time in the last 11 years that a PSU student team has won a national award from the AICP, more than any other planning program in the United States.

Master of Urban and Regional Planning students Amber Ayers, Laura Voss, Nate Miller, Samuel Roberts, Carlos Callava, and Belen Herrera—known as Team Confluentis—won the award for their project entitled Umatilla Together: Framework Plan. Their faculty advisors were Ethan Seltzer and Marisa Zapata. The students and faculty advisors will be recognized at the National Planning Conference (NPC18) on April 24 in New Orleans.

“It feels impossible to capture the depth of our appreciation for the City of Umatilla,” says student Amber Ayers, “and everyone who had a hand in making this such a successful project.”

The purpose of the project was to develop a community vision to connect and enhance Umatilla’s existing assets, centered around the downtown corridor. The team focused on natural and built assets within the community, including the marina, downtown, Old Town waterfront site, and surrounding residential communities. Part of the framework plan would enhance connectivity between a proposed waterfront preservation plan and the commercial corridor.

The team engaged with Umatilla residents by holding a kick-off event, interviewing community leaders, hosting a business mixer, forming a stakeholder advisory committee, organizing a Latino focus group, and surveying Umatilla’s youth to see what kinds of activities they want in their community.

“This is not an award for just us, but for the entire city of Umatilla,” says Ayers. “The community members of Umatilla provided guidance, enthusiasm, and devotion. We sincerely feel we lucked out having the opportunity to work with a city and a community as rich as Umatilla.”

PSU’s Planning Workshop embodies the university’s motto of “Let Knowledge Serve the City.” Each year, workshop students collaborate with community clients to develop projects that are problem-centered, require the development and evaluation of alternatives, result in a recommended course of action, and depend on direct community participation.