Experts Talk about the AICP CUD Credential

Karen Hundt, AICP

Karen Hundt, AICPKaren Hundt, AICP, is Director of the Community Design Group with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County (Tennessee) Regional Planning Agency. She participated in development of the AICP Certified Urban Designer examination.

APA: Could the AICP CUD credential make a planner more employable?
Hundt: "Absolutely. This new credential will stand out on your resume as more and more cities fix their zoning ordinances and adopt form-based codes that shift the primary focus from land use to the physical development patterns people want to see when redeveloping neighborhoods, downtowns, and waterfronts."

"An AICP CUD planner on staff visibly enhances any planning department's in-house design expertise."


APA: Why is this credential valuable in today's economy?
Hundt: "These days it isn't easy to get bank financing for redevelopment projects, which is causing developers to seek public-sector partners to help fund redevelopment elements, such as infrastructure. Planners on staff with an advanced credential in urban design are well equipped to work with developers to ensure quality development that encompasses both planning and design principles. An AICP CUD planner on staff visibly enhances any planning department's in-house design expertise."

APA: Is advanced certification in urban design important to the planning profession?
Hundt: "Of course. Design was very much a part of city planning in the early 20th century when architects like Daniel Burnham were involved and the City Beautiful movement emphasized design. As the planning profession evolved, it became more specialized. But in a way, AICP CUD brings us back around by elevating the connection between the design and planning disciplines."

APA: Why should a planner earn the AICP CUD credential?
Hundt: "It will show professionals in architecture, landscape architecture, and other allied fields that you can talk to designers in their own language. Your AICP CUD credential will boost architects' confidence that your planning department understands the issues and concerns they address."

Gary Hack, AICP

Gary Hack, AICPGary Hack, AICP, is professor emeritus of urban design and former dean of the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a former chair of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Hack participated in development of the AICP Certified Urban Designer examination.

APA: What will planners with an urban design credential bring to the table?
Hack: "Today, cities are competing with each other in terms of the quality of life they offer. They are concerned about their physical appearance and unique places. Smart cities are trying to create or further distinct identities and urban design plays a major role in this effort."

APA: What is most valuable about the credential?
Hack: "There are university degrees in urban design, but no comparable professional-level credential that planners with the appropriate experience, knowledge, and skills can obtain. The exam process and credential also will create a community of interest for planners who specialize in urban design, allowing them to share state-of-the-art knowledge."

"The AICP CUD exam process and credential will create a community of interest for planners in urban design, allowing them to share state-of-the-art knowledge."


APA: What can you tell interested planners about the AICP CUD exam?
Hack: "Exams don't test skills, but what you know about the field. This exam is a way for planners with sufficient knowledge in urban design to show they are serious about the field. Preparing for the exam also is a way for professionals to fill in some knowledge gaps they may have about urban design."

APA: Why should a planner earn the AICP CUD credential?
Hack: "It provides a way for planners who have focused their career on urban design to be recognized for their expertise."

Mark Hinshaw, FAICP

Mark Hinshaw, FAICPMark Hinshaw, FAICP, is director of Urban Design with LMN Architects in Seattle. He is both a Fellow of AICP and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Hinshaw participated in development of the AICP Certified Urban Designer examination.

APA: Is this a good time for APA to introduce this new credential?
Hinshaw: "The timing is very good. As we come out of the recession we're entering a new period where more projects and programs require planners with design experience and qualifications."

"I'm not aware of any other credential that is similar or comparable. Nothing else quantifies the level of knowledge and experience required of applicants sitting for the CUD exam."


APA: What does "AICP CUD" tell a prospective employer?
Hinshaw: "One of the skills this credential quantifies is an understanding of land use and development over time and how development interacts with streets, public spaces and other parts of a community. Many cities and towns are looking for people with a background and experience in both planning and design."

APA: Where might planners with this credential be most in demand?
Hinshaw: "Smaller and mid-sized cities that — unlike larger cities — never had the budgets to hire separate expertise in planning and in design. AICP CUD planners offer flexibility and a more cost effective way to approach projects that encompass land use, design, and planning."

APA: What makes this credential unique?
Hinshaw: "I'm not aware of any other credential that is similar or comparable. There are certificates of completion for short courses or programs, but nothing that quantifies the level of knowledge and experience required of applicants sitting for this exam. Most importantly, this is not a certificate you get by just paying a fee or taking a test. It involves a rigorous effort—you must have both AICP certification and years of experience in urban design."

APA: Why should a planner earn the AICP CUD credential?
Hinshaw: "It will definitely help a person stand out in the job market in terms of having not only planning knowledge and experience but also experience in design."

Jason Beske, AICP

Jason Beske, AICPJason Beske, AICP, is a community planner and urban designer with more than a dozen years of local government and nonprofit experience. Currently he is a principal urban designer / principal planner with the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. Beske participated in development of the AICP Certified Urban Designer examination.

APA: What does the credential reveal about a planner who earns it?
Beske: "It shows that the planner is versed in the principles and practices of both planning and urban design, which is focused on planning in three dimensions on a site or in a parcel, block, area, or neighborhood."

APA: Is there a strong market for planners with proven expertise in urban design?
Beske: "Yes, in a growing number of cities. Generational and population shifts — think Millennials and Baby Boomers moving downtown — are creating demand for dynamic, vibrant, walkable urbanism. This bodes well for planners seeking the AICP CUD credential now. They speak the language of urban design and can help achieve a community's vision for the physical realm."

"Demand for dynamic, vibrant, walkable urbanism bodes well for planners seeking the AICP CUD credential."


APA: Why is urban design a good choice for advanced certification?
Beske: "Planning has its roots in urban design. In fact, interest in the design of cities during the late 1800s is what created interest in planning. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, planning got away from spatial design, but it's coming back. Today urban design and spatial relationships are key tenets of our profession."

APA: What sets AICP CUD planners apart?
Beske: "They provide a holistic view of planning because they see opportunities and solutions in three dimensions. They consider all of the spatial variables to envision what can be created with and from what already exists. Planners who are urban designers are able to forge a vision, develop a plan, and implement good ideas."

APA: Why should a planner earn the AICP CUD credential?
Beske: "No other organization or allied profession is offering a credential like this at this time. It's great to see APA recognize the importance of urban design to the planning profession and in the forefront."