University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Minnesota Design Center
College of Design


Metro Cities Comprehensive Planning Workshops

Do you wonder how other municipalities are dealing with their comprehensive plans? Do you have some challenges you’d like help with from your peers? Would you like more information about how communities from other parts of the country are dealing with these same issues?

If so, come to these workshops and come away with specific solutions and actionable ideas that you can use in developing your comp plan. The workshops will be offered by the MDC, which brings to our region the latest thinking about community design and the newest approaches to development challenges.

Each workshop will address an aspect of comprehensive planning where the greatest amount of change will be happening over the next decade or where communities face the greatest number of challenges in meeting their goals. Participants will have ample time to learn, to share, and to get their questions answered.

Below are the five workshops being offered this Fall.  Let us know what information would help you the most by taking this quick 2 question Planning Survey .  We will offer offer more workshops next year based on your feedback.


Fall 2016 Workshops

Smart Transportation/Smart Parking Oct. 6th, 8am - Noon
Location: Eagan City Hall – 2nd Floor Eagan Room, 3830 Pilot Knob Rd. Eagan, MN 55122

Facilitators: Tom Fisher and Remi Douah
Digital technology has already begun to transform personal transportation with the rise of mobility services like Uber and Car2Go. The next decade will see even-more dramatic developments with the widespread use of self-driving and driverless cars and trucks and of phone apps that enable people to use the public realm in communities more efficiently.

This workshop will explore the impact of technology on the design of roads, on the demand for parking, on the use of mass transit, and on land use. Thomas Fisher, Director of the Minnesota Design Center, and Remi Douah, Senior Public Health Consultant in Human-Centered Design in the Center for Design in Health, will lead the workshop, with ample opportunity for participants to explore the implications of these technologies and to share best practices in their communities.

Support funding provided by a grant from the McKnight Foundation.
$75 registration
Sign up online at



Neighborhood Enhancement and Stabilization
Oct. 27th, 8am - Noon
Hopkins Fire Department Training Room 3rd floor, 101 17th Ave S, Hopkins, MN 55343,
Please park on 17th Ave S. the Public Works Lot.

Facilitators Aaron Parker & Dewey Thorbeck
As the Twin Cities region becomes more diverse, with an aging population, greater inequities, and growing international immigration, housing types and development patterns need to respond to a much greater range of needs than in the past. That trend will necessitate policy changes that facilitate more housing options, accommodate more mixed-use neighborhoods, create more accessible, healthy and walkable communities, and provide a greater chance of opportunity for all.

Find out what other metropolitan areas are doing in these areas and what communities in the Twin Cities metro might do in order to better compete with other regions nationally and internationally. Senior Research Fellow at the MDC,  Aaron Parker, Architect, Urban Designer and Developer, and Dewey Thorbeck, Architect and Rural Designer, will lead the workshop, with ample opportunity for participants to explore the implications of various housing and zoning strategies in their communities.

Support funding provided by a grant from the McKnight Foundation.
$75 registration.
Sign up online at


Public Places and District Storm water Management
Nov. 1st. 8am - Noon
Location: Ramsey Municipal Center, 7550 Sunwood Dr. NW Ramsey MN 55303

Facilitators: Bruce Jacobson and Bob Close
The role of the public realm has rapidly evolved in the past decade, with growing awareness of the intersections between a community’s physical design and health, climate change, protection and enhancement of natural resources, food production, energy generation and social equity.

There will be a presentation followed by a discussion with an expert panel comprising public and private practitioners. Participants will learn about state-of-the-art storm-water management strategies and how they can be integrated into a beautiful and vibrant public realm, whether parkland or streets.  Attendees will learn about global precedents and how they can be applied to their own cities.   

Support funding provided by a grant from the McKnight Foundation.
$75 registration.
Sign up online at


Public Art
Nov. 10th, 8am - Noon
City Hall Council Chambers, 5200 85th  Ave. North Brooklyn Park, MN 55443

Facilitator: Jack Becker
This workshop explores the big world of contemporary public art, place making and creative social engagement, and how they benefit cities around the world, led by one of the country’s leading experts in the field.

Learn about local and national case studies, and a recently produced study on public art in comprehensive plans in this region. Explore outside-the-box strategies for involving artists in public improvement projects, gathering community input, and efforts to improve community health. Engage in brainstorming and problem solving exercises, and learn how to apply artful solutions to your challenges and opportunities.

Support funding provided by a grant from the McKnight Foundation.
$75 registration.
Sign up online at


Energy Systems and Resiliency  Postponed to sometime in 2017
Planned for Nov. 17th in New Brighton - now cancelled

Facilitators: John Carmody, Richard Graves and Michael Ahern
This workshop will look at what other communities are doing to create more resilient and less costly energy infrastructure and how we might apply those lessons to this region. The focus will be on setting high standards for building energy use and delivering that energy through district systems. The workshop will provide an overview of how communities in the region can increase their resilience and capacity to accommodate unexpected disruptions. It will explore how to design communities that generate more energy than they consume.