Urban Planning

Architects, urban planners, and planning's transnational origins.

Urban planning is a discipline with decidedly transnational roots. From its beginnings in the late nineteenth century, knowledge about concepts, ideas, and actual planning projects has circulated among an increasing number of nations. This process has been facilitated by international planning conferences and associations as well as a growing coverage of international projects within the specialist literature. Contacts between the centers of city planning developments in Europe and the United States played an important role in this context.

The internationalization of city planning intensified during the 1920s and 1930s. Individual city planners began to build personal international networks, and it became increasingly common for planners to stay and work in a foreign country for several years. As members of a discipline still in its infancy, these planners utilized the international frame of their work to legitimize their own activity, increase their expertise, and to find a common knowledge in order to deal with seemingly universal urban problems.    

This is the background for the entries collected under the topic “urban planning.” The entries document the presence of architects and city planners from Europe in the United States, roughly between 1930 and 1980. These professionals, who often attained influential positions, had a unique perspective on American cities. Through their buildings and – even more importantly – through their concepts and teaching they shaped urban developments throughout the country. Their role and their special position with regard to international connections will be analyzed in this section.