Theses Doctoral

Strategic planning and urban development in New York City, Paris and Sao Paulo: 2001 – 2012

Lobo, Bruno

This study examines the paradigm shift in urban planning towards a strategic spatial approach by investigating the effects of new strategic plans and policies on large-scale urban development projects (UDP’s). Specifically, it compares the impacts of new planning legislation and strategic local plans introduced in New York, Paris and Sao Paulo on three UDP’s in each city by evaluating the impacts on the development programs, implementation process and public benefits delivered from 2001 to 2012. The study provides an overview of the literature on strategic spatial planning theory and practice, comparative planning systems and large-scale urban public/ private developments to describe the overarching ‘spatial turn’ in planning and establish how different planning cultures influence plan making and what the consequences are for public/ private development, focusing on the mechanisms of flexibility provided by strategic plans to address the planning and financing requirements of UDP’s. It argues that despite of the formal differences found between systems as legal constructs, there is a need to investigate if these consequences actually occur and how they are produced. It then presents the case studies of the Special Hudson Yards District in New York City, the ‘Zone d’Amenagement Concerte Clichy-Batignolles’ in Paris and the ‘Operacao Urbana Agua Branca’ in Sao Paulo, focusing on the reform of the local statutes, planning process and implementation using quantitative and qualitative data collected through planning documents, press articles, interviews, observation of public meetings and field research. Each case study is representative of a different planning model where each project was developed after a revision of the local planning statutes and introduction of a new strategic city plan. The study finds that despite the formal differences between strategic plans, UDP’s cause planning systems to converge towards a similar intermediate model where policy determination becomes bidirectional and final development programs are determined by both strategic plans and site-specific considerations. The variations found between projects are instead determined by the broader development models present in each case which determine the implementation capacity of cities and ability to capitalize public resources to capture part of the resulting increment in land values and deliver public benefits. The study concludes with proposed implications for planning research and suggestions of policy formulations aimed at improving the ‘public return’ generated by UDP’s.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Beauregard, Robert
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 19, 2018