Urban Design; History of Urban Form; Streets and Public Spaces; Urban Design & Sustainability.
I am an urban designer with a multi-disciplinary perspective shaped by my education in city planning, landscape architecture, and architecture, and with a professional orientation shaped by years of design practice. In my research, I analyze issues related to urban physical development and the design of the public realm, with a particular focus on livability and environmental sustainability. I investigate how urban places came to be the way they are, analyze the long-term outcomes of implemented urban design projects and urban plans, and explore how physical form and human behavior interact. My objectives are to provide knowledge that addresses the emerging concerns of urban design and planning practice and to provide that knowledge in a way that is directly useful to practitioners and communities. I also engage in professional practice and in this work I seek to help communities find innovative ways to achieve their goals for greater livability and better environmental responsibility. I bring to my teaching and advising a dedication to the concerns of professional practice and responsiveness to the needs of students. My goals are to give students the intellectual background and skills they need to become top-notch professionals or academics, and to encourage them to think creatively and to be reflective.
Elizabeth Macdonald studies public space design, with a focus on challenging long-standing and entrenched street design standards and norms that prioritize motorized vehicle movement over other uses, the evaluation of implemented urban design plans and projects, and designing for livability and environmental responsibility. Her recent book, Urban Waterfront Promenades (Routledge, 2018), presents 38 promenade case studies, analyzing their physical form, social use, the circumstances under which they were built, the public policies that brought them into being, and the threats from sea level rise and the responses that have been made. She is also author of Pleasure Drives and Promenades: A History of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Brooklyn Parkways (Center for American Places, 2012), co-author of The Boulevard Book: History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards (MIT Press, 2002), and co-editor of two editions of The Urban Design Reader (Routledge, 2007 & 2013). Professor Macdonald also publishes widely in academic journals and produces research papers for professional audiences. She has published on the planning dimensions of sustainable urban design (Journal of Urban Design), a standardized rating tool for evaluating the pedestrian quality of urban streets (Journal of Urban Design), pedestrian wind comfort (International Journal of Sustainable Development and Urban Ecology, Sustainability, Journal of Urban Design), and the efficacy of long-range physical planning in Vancouver, B.C. (Journal of Planning History).
Professor Macdonald is a registered architect and principal of Jacobs Macdonald: Cityworks, an urban design practice formed in collaboration with her partner Allan Jacobs. She works nationally and internationally on urban design and planning projects. Notable projects include the design of Octavia Boulevard to replace San Francisco’s earthquake damaged Central Freeway, the redesign of Pacific Boulevard in Vancouver’s recently built high-density False Creek North neighborhood, and streetscape design for the Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, San Francisco’s Better Streets Plan, and San Francisco’s Market/Octavia Neighborhood Plan. She is the recipient of numerous design awards, including from the American Planning Association, the Federal Highway Administration, the California Transportation Foundation, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission, San Francisco Beautiful, the Congress for the New Urbanism, and the American Society of Landscape Architects, the American Institute of Architects.
Prior to her time at UC Berkeley, Professor Macdonald was a faculty member of the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. Prior to academia, she spent ten years as a practicing architect in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Urban Design, and the Congress for the New Urbanism’s Highways-to-Boulevards Advisory Committee
Professor Macdonald teaches courses in urban design at the graduate and undergraduate levels, with a primary emphasis on studios. Her studio courses include a focus on graphic and oral communication skills for presenting design research and proposals in ways that are readily accessible to community members, political decision-makers, and fellow professionals.
CY PLAN 240: Theories of Urban Form and Design
CY PLAN 140 Urban Design: City-Building and Place-Making
CY PLAN 208 Plan Preparation Studio
Macdonald, E. Urban Waterfront Promenades. (Routledge, 2017)
Larice, M. and E. Macdonald. The Urban Design Reader. Second Edition (Routledge, 2013).
Macdonald, E. Pleasure Drives and Promenades: A History of Frederick Law Olmsted's Brooklyn Parkways. (Center for American Places, 2012).
Larice, M. and E. Macdonald. The Urban Design Reader. First Edition (Routledge, 2007).
Jacobs, A. B., E. Macdonald and Y. Rofe. The Boulevard Book: History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards. (MIT Press, 2002).