Each year, two of the nation’s leading planning experts are invited to Orlando to participate in UCF’s Urban and Regional Planning Distinguished Lecture Series. The lectures are open to the public and supported by generous contributions from members of the Central Florida planning community, as well as local organizations.

Current sponsors include MetroPlan Orlando, GAI Consultants, Ustler and the American Planning Association.

Fall 2018 Lecture

“The Economics of Land Use: Measuring the Dollars and $ense of Cities”

The Fall 2018 lecture featured Joe Minicozzi, an innovative urban economist and planner and founder/principal of Urban3.

Land use economics is an effective tool to understand ways a community can proactively manage growth. It is also a fiscally smart way to use land more wisely. However, few communities consider the important role that the value of land plays in land use planning, zoning, placemaking and capital improvement planning. The goal for Urban3’s lectures is to change the way people think about the cost of development, sprawl and the value of land.

Joe Minicozzi is an urban planner imagining new ways to think about and visualize land use, urban design and economics. Joe founded Urban3 to explain and visualize market dynamics created by tax and land use policies. Urban3’s work establishes new conversations across multiple professional sectors, policy makers, and the public to creatively address the challenges of urbanization. Urban3’s extensive studies have ranged geographically from over 30 states, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Joe holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Miami and Master of Architecture and Urban Design from Harvard University. In 2017, Joe was recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Urbanists of all time.

View Joe’s presentation.

Dr. Owen Beitsch, PhD, FAICP is the Senior Director for Economic and Real Estate Advisory Services at GAI Community Solutions Group. With 30 years of experience as a principal planner, providing analytical advice to the planning, design, legal and community development industries, Beitsch brings a unique perspective of planning law as a part-time faculty member at the UCF MSURP program.

Elisabeth J. Dang, AICP is the Chief Planner for the City of Orlando’s Comprehensive Planning Studio.  She has served Orlando in various roles since 2004, and currently coordinates amendments to the City’s comprehensive plan to address long-range issues including water supply, smart growth, transportation improvements, energy efficiency, and preservation of open space.  Elisabeth also assists developers in obtaining land use approvals for large-scale projects such as Florida Hospital, Lake Nona/Medical City, and Creative Village. Prior to moving to Central Florida, Elisabeth worked as a researcher for the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education and as a consultant for ICF International in Fairfax, Virginia. Elisabeth has a master’s degree in Community Planning from the University of Maryland, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bryn Mawr College.

Susan E. Caswell, AICP is the Assistant Community Development Administrator for Osceola County. In her role, Caswell oversees several departments including Planning and Design, Parks and Public Lands, and Sports and Event Facilities. She developed the County’s Strategy for a Sustainable Future, which addresses key County issues including fiscal sustainability. Prior to joining Osceola County in 2014, Susan worked at Orange County for eight years as Planning Manager and Assistant to the Director of Community Development Services. As Planning Manager, she managed a staff of 25 working with issues related to comprehensive planning, development, and infill and redevelopment. As Assistant to the Director, she managed interdivisional projects, including the Mayor’s regulatory streamlining initiative and development of the County’s Sustainability Plan. She has a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Florida.

Craig Ustler, MAI, CCIM is the president of Ustler Development, Inc. which focuses on urban infill real estate and business development in downtown Orlando. He is the developer of many notable projects including the Residence Inn Downtown Orlando, 800 North Orange Office Building, The Ivy Apartments at Healthy Village, GAI Building, 801 North Orange and Thornton Park Central. Craig has executed development projects collectively valued at over $200 million. Craig is leading the master development team for Creative Village in downtown Orlando. He is also developing several vertical projects at Creative Village, including a $105 million student housing project that is under construction and will be completed in August 2019 concurrent with the opening of the UCF/Valencia Downtown Campus. He is an owner/partner of several acclaimed downtown Orlando restaurants, including Soco and Reyes Mezcaleria. Craig’s educational background includes a bachelor’s in Urban Economics and a master’s degree in Real Estate and Urban Analysis from the University of Florida.


Spring 2018 Lecture

“Build It, Hack It, Share It! Making Data Work for Policy Change”

The latest lecture will feature Sarah Williams, an associate professor of technology and urban planning, and the director of the Civic Data Lab at MIT.

Big Data will not change the world unless it is collected and synthesized into tools that generate policy change. The Civic Data Design Lab has developed tools, visualizations, and analyses which helps to facilitate policy change. This talk calls everyone to act on the lab’s motto of “Build It, Hack It, Share It” – by showing examples from lab projects that crowdsource transportation data, capture social media, automate development of zoning envelopes, and use sensors to understand the use of public space. All the projects show that building tools with big data can generate policy change.

Sarah Williams
is currently an associate professor of technology and urban planning. She also is director of the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. The Civic Data Design Lab works with data, maps, and mobile technologies to develop interactive design and communication strategies that expose urban policy issues to broader audiences.

Trained as a geographer (Clark University), landscape architect (University of Pennsylvania), and urban planner (MIT), Williams’s work combines geographic analysis and design. Williams is most well known for her work as part of the Million Dollar Blocks team which highlighted the cost of incarceration, Digital Matatus which developed the first data set on an informal transit system searchable in Google Maps, and a more a recent project that uses social media data to understand housing vacancy and Ghost Cities in China.

Her design work has been widely exhibited including work in the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City. Before coming to MIT, Williams was Co-Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation. Williams has won numerous awards including being named top 25 planners in the technology and 2012 Game Changer by Metropolis Magazine. Her work is currently on view in the Museum of Modern Art and the Seoul Biennale Cities Exhibition in Korea.