AICP Certified Urban Designer
(AICP CUD) Exam Outline

The AICP CUD Examination will consist of multiple choice and scenario-based questions on the subject matters listed below. The list is intended to be representative and not inclusive of all subject matter known to the field of environmental planning. Candidates should note that exam questions do not precisely follow the order listed below.

I. 3D Design Creativity and Critical Insight [15%]

  1. Imagination       
    1. deconstruct and reconstruct (how to take apart and recreate designs or problems)     
    2. spatial properties and three dimensional design          
    3. investigation (query and probe into the unclear and unknown)          
  2. Vision or Projection
    1. generate creative solutions (i.e. thinking in ways not yet apparent)     
  3. Initiative               
    1. using professional judgment to make decisions based on incomplete information       
    2. taking proactive initiative (e.g. being entrepreneurial and resourceful)             
  4. Strategic Thinking
    1. Integrating broader critical and imaginative thinking into logistical (physical) hypothesis             
  5. Patience and Empathy
    1. understanding diverse perspectives and values           
    2. assimilating and translating diverse perspectives and values   

II. Sustainability [11%]

  1. Environmental
    1. built environment (open spaces, infrastructures)        
    2. natural environment (water, land form, climate)         
    3. historic preservation
    4. adaptive re-use         
    5. retrofitting buildings 
    6. energy (conservation, generation)    
    7. water, waste and recycling  
  2. Social      
    1. social equity   
    2. environmental justice              
    3. cultural associations (references)       
    4. sense of community identity               
    5. appreciation for traditional patterns, materials and practice   
  3. Economic             
    1. job creation (creating places that attract and sustain jobs)        
    2. value of land 
    3. community competitiveness
    4. access to transportation         
    5. access to housing       
    6. jobs to housing balance          
    7. access to services     

III. Agency [9%]

  1. Understanding and Managing Change
    1. understanding how emerging trends influence design approaches      
    2. conserving places (irreplaceable assets)           
    3. responding to change in conditions by retrofitting and adapting          
    4. considering new influences to shape the built environment  
  2. Inclusion           
    1. tools and techniques appropriate to the audience (e.g. social media, mainstream media, public presentation, engagement and education etc.)             
    2. Participatory processes of decision making     
  3. Access  
    1. communicating benefits of urban design          
    2. observing, analyzing and inspiring urban design outcomes      
  4. Analysis 
    1. deconstruction (identifying the components in order to interpret and educate)            
    2. engaging in diagnostic activities            
    3. reconstruction (putting the components back together)         
    4. communication of implications and consequences     
  5. Leadership           
    1. Project management 
    2. conflict resolution      
    3. managing interdisciplinary teams       
    4. awareness of key players (ensuring key stakeholders are involved in the design process)       
    5. recommending action              
    6. advocacy       
    7. ethics            
  6. Facilitation        
    1. ensuring all voices are heard and none dominate-including yours         
    2. communicating implication of choices               
    3. consensus building   
    4. building a sense of ownership by the stakeholders    
  7. Community and Individual Quality of Life 
    1. aesthetics (sense of beauty)  
    2. fiscal impact  
    3. quality of life (sense of place)              
    4. improved health, safety and wellness              
    5. building a sense of ownership by the stakeholders    
    6. recognizing increase in diversity, and the need for connectivity and choices   

IV. Cultural Heritage: Sensibility and Understanding [9%]

  1. Demographic Trends: Race, Class, Age, and Gender   
    1. Spatial equity        
    2. use of a place (past, present and future)         
    3. competing economic interests            
  2. Intangible Heritage    
    1. memory and traditions including food, indigenous celebrations, and music        
  3. Competing Interests and Values        
    1. political interests         
    2. cultural values              
    3. financial realities        
  4. Design
    1. historical urban patterns          
    2. traditional building styles, methods and materials       

V. Mobility and Accessibility [8%]

  1. Access to Basic Human Needs 
    1. access to food (including urban agriculture)     
    2. access to health care 
    3. access to open spaces, nature             
    4. access to jobs             
    5. access to education   
    6. public safety
  2. Streets/Streetscapes    
    1. appropriate hierarchy of street designs for all modes of travel               
    2. walkability     
    3. safety and security   
    4. identity          
    5. accessibility   
    6. connectivity 
  3. Health and Wellness     
    1. physical access to services       
    2. quality of choices of mobility 
    3. aesthetics     
    4. active living designs  
  4. Multimodal Access       
    1. complete streets   
    2. public transit            
    3. balance of movement and accessibility       
    4. paths, trails, water taxis, bicycles, shared cars         
    5. parking and parking management 
  5. Access     
    1. concepts of universal access              
    2. application of state, federal, and local laws

VI. Urban Framework [15%]

  1. History and Precedents               
    1. Context           
    2. Precedents   
  2. Theory and City Form   
    1. settlement types and arranging forms               
    2. historical patterns and variations         
  3. Natural Systems              
    1. hydrology, geology and geomorphology           
    2. habitats and biodiversity         
    3. climate           
  4. Land Use, Density, and Intensity             
    1. integration of uses and mixed uses     
    2. compactness, transition, and economics          
  5. Public Realm      
    1. publicly accessible open spaces, streets, and orientation          
    2. civic and cultural facilities        
  6. Streets/Streetscapes    
    1. dimensions    
    2. organizational systems             
    3. performance standards          
    4. urban forestry            
    5. personal safety as a consideration      
    6. way finding and commercial signage 
    7. active use of street and public spaces             
  7. Public Transit   
    1. routes, stops, stations, shelters, systems and alignments         
    2. way finding, legibility and accessibility               
    3. Transit Oriented Development (TOD)               
  8. Publicly Accessible Urban Space
    1. visibility and access     
    2. safety and maintenance          
    3. vending and programming    
  9. Urban Typology               
    1. building function and typology              
    2. 3-dimensional form, massing, scale    
    3. dimensional characteristics of buildings           
    4. open space typology               
    5. block typology             
    6. street typology          
  10. Quality of Materials
    1. type and quality of building materials 
    2. streetscape materials               
    3. landscape materials  
  11. Utilities and Infrasturctures              
    1. power, water, stormwater, communication, gas         
    2. integrating natural systems as infrastructure 
  12. Public Art            
    1. understanding the role of arts in community and public places               
  13. Parking   
    1. types, quantity and dimensions            
    2. location, operation and management               
    3. service access and characteristics       

VII. Implementation Tools [10%]

  1. Regulatory Framework             
    1. plans 
    2. entitlements
    3. codes              
    4. design standards       
    5. types of land use and intensity of use               
  2. Design Standards and Urban Design
    1. building placement, massing and orientation  
    2. parking and service    
    3. dimensional parameters of streets, open spaces and buildings            
    4. management of visual character        
  3. Capital Improvement Programs       
    1. structures, streets, sidewalks and infrastructure           
    2. public institutions, facilities and government centers 
    3. understanding budgets, procurement and public processes  
    4. parks, squares, and playgrounds        
  4. Incentives: Public, Private, Institutional      
    1. regulatory, bonus, public infrastructure            
    2. Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Business Improvement District (BID), financial incentives           
  5. Partnerships 
    1. public benefits, organizations, non-profit organizations             
    2. strategic partnerships               
    3. working with community advocates  
  6. Public Financing           
    1. bonds, levies, impact fees       
    2. special assessments, local improvement districts         
  7. Private Financing         
    1. conventional financing, consortium, lending   
    2. return on investment, proforma, redlining     
  8. Real Estate Economics
    1. assessments, appraisals           
    2. feasibility, market demands, competitiveness, leakage            
    3. relationship of financing to entitlement          
  9. Health Impact Assessment      
    1. Environmental Impact Settlement (EIS), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (CA only), and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)-several states        
  10. Organizations: Community Development Corporation (CDC), Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Business Improvement District (BID)       
    1. identification and empowerment of stakeholders        

VIII. Development [8%]

  1. Phasing  
    1. managing political process       
    2. building construction including phasing considerations              
    3. feasibility, impact and opportunities 
  2. Standards           
    1. regional practices and resources           
    2. general knowledge of construction types        
  3. Means and Methods    
    1. construction impacts  
  4. Cost          
    1. capital, operating, maintenance and lifecycle cost        
    2. value of existing structures and infrastructure              

IX. Developmental Economics [4%]

  1. General Real Estate Knowledge          
    1. ROI, payback periods, sources and uses, changing pro formas
    2. market conditions and consumer demands    
    3. regional trends           

X.  Legal [3%]

  1. Property Rights          
    1. ownership rights          
  2. Sources of Legal Authority    
    1. Constitutions 
    2. Legislation     
    3. case law         
    4. land, building, fire and related codes

XI.  Tools of Trade [8%]

  1. Analysis    
    1. visual evaluation tools               
    2. digital tools    
    3. graphic presentation of quantitative information        
    4. info graphics
    5. research         
    6. GIS  
  2. Description              
    1. language tools, narrative: writing, verbal          
    2. visualization tools       
  3. Engagement            
    1. workshops     
    2. charrettes      
    3. social media 
    4. presentations             
    5. websites        

Updated November 4, 2013