City Design

It needs to be easier to build great cities.

Multistudio’s City Design practice engages communities on all aspects of city-building. We shape local aspirations and address civic needs with policies and designs that reflect the uniqueness to each setting, are self-sustaining, and are simple to use. Our method of using systems, patterns and types enables places to develop incrementally and organically, the way cities made by and for people have always prospered. A people-centered approach is the essence of healthy and vibrant places and communities.

Cities are built by people, for people. We focus on supporting the important elements that will define great cities for generations to come.

Historically, cities have advanced the interchange of ideas, commerce, and culture. We design cities for people to honor this intent and elevate the design, inclusion, quality, and sustainability of the places we build. Great and equitable cities encourage human interaction and bring people together.

Man with bike meets with woman on city block.

The arrangement and design of streetscapes and public spaces is a community’s primary opportunity to express collective values. By investing in public space, we gain opportunities to support vibrant social life, catalyze great places, enhance connectivity and access, and improve quality of life.

Aerial view of Lawrence Public Library with large crowd occupying public plaze

Our built environment is inherited from our predecessors, making us stewards of this significant asset; our community. Understanding the public cost of development choices helps a community use its limited resources to create productive, fiscally sustainable cities and avoid creating communities it cannot afford to maintain.

Cities have historically been built over time through many small investments. This incremental and organic approach worked to fulfill the needs of people through a human-scaled development pattern. This method of development created the foundation of the places that we value today. A community built incrementally by many hands encourages the human-scaled, diverse places that define great cities.

Effective citybuilding requires local ownership. This is only possible when shared values are identified and responsibility to the greater community is cultivated among stakeholders. Local stewardship can be supported by providing access to information, encouraging investment in collaborative processes, enabling motivated and informed citizens to act, and keeping leadership accountable.

A group of diverse people working together during the South Central Phoenix Transit Oriented Development project's community workshop

How We Think

A return to city building

We use a design-based approach to simplify the planning and development of cities, focusing on the building blocks of the community — systems, patterns, and types.

Defining systems

The systems of development, including natural features, connectivity, destinations, and economic markets, define the community at the citywide/regional scale.

Forming patterns

The patterns of development, including civic and open space, land use, street networks, and market strategies, define a community at the neighborhood and district scale.

Specifying types

The types of development, including streetscapes and open spaces, buildings, streets, and other capital improvements, define the city at the block and lot scale. We use this organization to specify the context and places to create authentic great cities.

What We Do

Enabling People to Build Great Cities

We create the tools necessary to design places for people.

  • We Understand How Cities Work
  • We Apply Design Thinking at the Different Scales of The City
  • We Specialize in Urban Design
  • We Connect the Dots
  • We Simplify City Building

City Planning

Planning considers the large systems that define the structure of a region or city, guiding future public and private investment in physical, natural, and economic resources. Planning for characteristics such as connections and citywide patterns is appropriate at this scale.

Urban Design

Urban Design is the process of shaping a neighborhood or district’s physical form, patterns, and accessibility, as well as the integration of public space. Great urban design should also address nonphysical needs of a community, such as social and fiscal needs.

Development Regulations

Regulations are an opportunity to apply straightforward patterns at the block and site scale for both public and private investments. Identifying your community’s desired building types, frontages, and street types can provide the template for managing ongoing investment.

Master Planning

Master planning applies urban design and planning principles at the campus or district scale to achieve a range of goals, including facilities organization, redevelopment, or expansion.

Public Sector Support

We partner with a number of municipal agencies to support plan implementation, staff and public official training, plan review, or other technical needs following the adoption of a code or planning project.

Additional Work


  • City Planning

  • Urban Design

  • Development Regulations

  • Master Planning

  • Public Sector Support

  • Landscape Architecture


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