Best Urban Planning Books 2023 | Become a Successful Urban Planner

best urban planning books

This article is for anyone who is a designer, an architect, or an engineer who is looking for a recommendation for best Urban Planning books. This article catalogs a number of books on Urban Design and Planning. From Urban planning to sustainable development, these books cover a wide variety of Urban Design concepts.

So hurry up and scroll the list to get the best urban planning books in 2023

The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design
Author: Mars, Roman
Published at: 06/10/2020
ISBN: 0358126606

99% Invisible is a big-ideas podcast about small-seeming things, revealing stories baked into the buildings we inhabit, the streets we drive, and the sidewalks we traverse. The show celebrates design and architecture in all of its functional glory and accidental absurdity, with intriguing tales of both designers and the people impacted by their designs.

The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to Hidden World of Everyday Design, host Roman Mars and coauthor Kurt Kohlstedt zoom in on the various elements that make our cities work, exploring the origins and other fascinating stories behind everything from power grids and fire escapes to drinking fountains and street signs. With deeply researched entries and beautiful line drawings throughout, The 99% Invisible City will captivate devoted fans of the show and anyone curious about design, urban environments, and the unsung marvels of the world around them.



Bike Lanes Are White Lanes: Bicycle Advocacy and Urban Planning
Author: Hoffmann, Melody L.
Published at: 01/12/2020
ISBN: 1496222318

In Bike Lanes Are White Lanes scholar Melody L. Hoffmann argues that the bicycle has varied cultural meaning as a “rolling signifier.” That is, the bicycle’s meaning changes in different spaces, with different people, and in different cultures. The rolling signification of the bicycle contributes to building community, influences gentrifying urban planning, and upholds systemic race and class barriers. In this study of three prominent U.S. cities—Milwaukee, Portland, and Minneapolis—Hoffmann examines how the burgeoning popularity of urban bicycling is trailed by systemic issues of racism, classism, and displacement. From a pro-cycling perspective, Bike Lanes Are White Lanes highlights many problematic aspects of urban bicycling culture and its advocacy as well as positive examples of people trying earnestly to bring their community together through bicycling.



Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life
Author: Sim, David
Published at: 20/08/2019
ISBN: 1642830186

Soft City begins with the big ideas of happiness and quality of life, and then shows how they are tied to the way we live. The heart of the book is highly visual and shows the building blocks for neighbourhoods: building types and their organization and orientation; how we can get along as we get around a city; and living with the weather. As every citizen deals with the reality of a changing climate, Soft City explores how the built environment can adapt and respond.   Soft City offers inspiration, ideas, and guidance for anyone interested in city building. Sim shows how to make any city more efficient, more livable, and better connected to the environment.



The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Author: Rothstein, Richard
Published at: 01/05/2018
ISBN: 1631494538

The Color of Law offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighbourhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighbourhoods.

A groundbreaking, “virtually indispensable” study that has already transformed our understanding of twentieth-century urban history (Chicago Daily Observer), The Color of Law forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past. 13 illustrations



Urban Pioneer: Interiors inspired by industrial design
Author: Sara Emslie
Published at: 04/04/2017
ISBN: 184975800X

Urban Pioneer is a great book to learn how to transform non-residential spaces into highly desirable homes. It highlights the principles and methods to cleverly convert former lofts, warehouses, schools, factories, offices, and retail spaces into a home to live and love.

You'll also explore 12 inspiring and real-life homes that showcase the very best of urban pioneer look.

What You'll Learn From This Book:

  • Looking into urban design and style
  • Utilizing real urban spaces
  • Making urban creative home
  • Exploring the perfectly imperfect homes
  • Understanding urban utilitarian designs
  • Exploring the warehouse work of art


Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution
Author: Sadik-Khan, Janette
Published at: 07/03/2017
ISBN: 0143128973

Breaking the street into its component parts, Streetfight demonstrates, with step-by-step visuals, how to rewrite the underlying “source code” of a street, with pointers on how to add protected bike paths, improve crosswalk space, and provide visual cues to reduce speeding. Achieving such a radical overhaul wasn’t easy, and Streetfight pulls back the curtain on the battles Sadik-Khan won to make her approach work.


She includes examples of how this new way to read the streets has already made its way around the world, from pocket parks in Mexico City and Los Angeles to more pedestrian-friendly streets in Auckland and Buenos Aires, and innovative bike-lane designs and plazas in Austin, Indianapolis, and San Francisco. Many are inspired by the changes taking place in New York City and are based on the same techniques. Streetfight deconstructs, reassembles, and reinvents the street, inviting readers to see it in ways they never imagined.



Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World
Author: Wade Graham
Published at: 26/01/2016
ISBN: 0062196316

Dream Cities tells the cultural history of modern cities in a lively, unique and accessible way. It explores our cities in the eyes of real architectures and thinkers who imagined them before we see.

With this urban design book, you will experience the beauty lies in our modern cities including suburbs, downtown districts, and exurban sprawl, to shopping malls and “sustainable” developments.

If you are an admirer of the modern cities and their history, then this is a must-read for you.

What You'll Learn From This Book:

  • The gothic revival of the castles by Bertram Goodhue
  • The ideas and ideals behind ordered cities
  • The history of rational cities
  • How homesteads changed the ideas of cities
  • The stories of self-organizing cities
  • The ideas behind modern-day malls
  • The evolution of techno-ecological cities



Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature
Author: Douglas Farr
Published at: 16/11/2007
ISBN: 047177751X

If you are a designer, planner or architect who eager to make an impact on our surroundings through sustainable development, then this urban planning book is an ideal guidebook for you. It provides a comprehensive introduction to sustainable urbanism.

Making a powerful case for sustainable urbanism, it shows you where we went wrong and where we need to go. With this guide, you'll understand how to implement sustainable urbanism through leadership and communication in cities, communities, and neighborhoods.

What You'll Learn From This Book:

  • Arguments on the need for sustainable urbanism
  • Implementing sustainable urbanism
  • The process and tools for developing sustainable urbanism
  • Increasing sustainability through density
  • Developing sustainability corridors and neighborhoods
  • The development of high-performance buildings and infrastructures


Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design
Author: Michael Bayer,Nancy Frank,Jason Valerius
Published at: 02/02/2010
ISBN: 0470278633

Becoming an Urban Planner will answer all the things you need to know to become a successful urban planner in the future. This book will show you the path of how to make a career in urban planning.

With interviews and guidance from leading planners, you'll know everything about making a career in this emerging field.

What You'll Learn From This Book:

  • Understanding the jobs of an urban planner
  • Determining the planning process
  • Taking informational interviews from experts
  • How to get volunteer experience and internships
  • Taking corporate education
  • Using your analytics and creative talents
  • Deciding your workplace
  • Understanding the future of urban planning


Questioning Assumptions and Challenging Perceptions: Becoming an Effective Teacher in Urban Environments
Author: Schaffer, Connie L.
Published at: 15/01/2016
ISBN: 1475822030

While many textbooks support how teachers should teach students in urban settings, this book asserts individuals can be effective teachers in these settings only if they first develop understanding urban schools and the students who attend them. As readers progress through the chapters, they will realize they don’t know what they don’t know.

Within a framework of cognitive dissonance, readers will continuously examine and reexamine their personal beliefs and perceptions. Readers will also investigate new information and varied perspectives related to urban schools. When readers finish this book, they will be on their way to becoming effective teachers in urban environments.

What You'll Learn From This Book:

  • The ideas and ideals behind ordered cities.
  • The history of rational cities.
  • How homesteads changed the ideas of cities.
  • The stories of self-organizing cities.
  • The ideas behind modern-day malls.
  • Key principles of intersection design.
  • Making crosswalks and crossings.
  • Building traffic signals.
  • Understanding design control.


Planning and Urban Design Standards
Author: American Planning Association
Published at: 29/09/2006
ISBN: 0471760900

This Student Edition is packed with more than 1,400 informative illustrations and includes the latest rules of thumb for designing and evaluating any land-use scheme--from street plantings to new subdivisions. Students find real help understanding all the practical information on the physical aspects of planning and urban design they are required to know, including:

Plans and plan-making, Environmental planning and management, Building types, Transportation, Utilities, Parks and open space, farming, and forestry, Places and districts, Design considerations, Projections and demand analysis, Impact assessment, Mapping, Legal foundations, Growth management preservation, conservation, and reuse.

Economic and real estate development Planning and Urban Design Standards, Student Edition provides essential specification and detailed information for various types of plans, environmental factors and hazards, building types, transportation planning, and mapping and GIS. In addition, expert advice guides readers on practical and graphical skills, such as mapping, plan types, and transportation planning.



Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design
Author: Montgomery, Charles
Published at: 07/10/2014
ISBN: 0374534888

The award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery finds answers to such questions at the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness, during an exhilarating journey through some of the world's most dynamic cities. He meets the visionary mayor who introduced a "sexy" bus to ease status anxiety in Bogotá; the architect who brought the lessons of medieval Tuscan hill towns to modern-day New York City; the activist who turned Paris's urban freeways into beaches; and an army of American suburbanites who have hacked the design of their own streets and neighbourhoods.

Rich with new insights from psychology, neuroscience, and Montgomery's own urban experiments, Happy City reveals how cities can shape our thoughts as well as our behaviour. The message is ultimately as surprising as it is hopeful: by retrofitting cities and our own lives for happiness, we can tackle the urgent challenges of our age. The happy city can save the world―and we can all help build it.



Contemporary Urban Planning
Author: Levy, John M.
Published at: 01/09/2016
ISBN: 1138666386

Planning is a highly political activity. It is immersed in politics and inseparable from the law. Urban and regional planning decisions often involve large sums of money, both public and private, with the potential to deliver large benefits to some and losses to others. Contemporary Urban Planning, 11e provides students with an unvarnished and in-depth introduction to the historic, economic, political, legal, ideological, and environmental factors affecting urban planning today, and emphasizes the importance of considering who wins and who loses in planning decision making.

The extensively revised and updated 11th edition of this beloved text tackles the most pressing recent issues in urban development―including the major turn toward re-urbanization, Affordable Housing and the particular housing needs of an ageing population, new developments in public transportation planning, policy, and technology, standards for "green" buildings, the second Obama administration’s environmental policy and energy planning, as well as the rapidly growing and critical field of planning for natural catastrophes. Contemporary Urban Planning is an essential resource for students, city planners, and all who are concerned with the nature of contemporary urban development problems.



Urban Planning For Dummies
Author: Yin, Jordan
Published at: 13/03/2012
ISBN: 1118100239

In Urban Planning For Dummies, readers will get a practical overview of this fascinating field, including studying community demographics, determining the best uses for land, planning economic and transportation development, and implementing plans. Following an introductory course on urban planning, this book is key reading for any urban planning student or anyone involved in urban development.

With new studies conclusively demonstrating the dramatic impact of urban design on public psychological and physical health, the impact of the urban planner on a community is immense. And with a wide range of positions for urban planners in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors including law firms, utility companies, and real estate development firms having a fundamental understanding of urban planning is key to anyone even considering entry into this field. This book provides a useful introduction and lays the groundwork for serious study.

  • Helps readers understand the essentials of this complex profession
  • Written by a certified practising urban planner, with extensive practical and community outreach experience


The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Author: Jacobs, Jane
Published at: 01/12/1992
ISBN: 067974195X

A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in this century, The Death and Life of Great American Cities has, since its first publication in 1961, become the standard against which all endeavours in that field are measured.


In prose of outstanding immediacy, Jane Jacobs writes about what makes streets safe or unsafe; about what constitutes a neighbourhood, and what function it serves within the larger organism of the city; about why some neighbourhoods remain impoverished while others regenerate themselves. She writes about the salutary role of funeral parlours and tenement windows, the dangers of too much development money and too little diversity. Compassionate, bracingly indignant, and always keenly detailed, Jane Jacobs's monumental work provides an essential framework for assessing the vitality of all cities.



Urban Planning: An Introduction (Planning, Environment, Cities)
Author: Couch, Chris
Published at: 08/01/2016
ISBN: 1137427566

The author traces the historical evolution of planning and urban governance and explores the range of urban problems and policies likely to be found in almost any city in the developed world. Combining the latest theory in the field with practical insight and numerous illustrative case studies, the author comprehensively addresses issues of economic change and development; retailing and the role of urban centres; housing provision and neighbourhood renewal; urban design and conservation; green and blue infrastructure; and mobility and accessibility.

Assuming no prior knowledge of the subject, this text is the ideal accessible introduction to the planning field, giving equal focus to both theory and practice. Whilst celebrating the work of planners, it also provides an essential critical analysis of how key decisions are made and implemented, the benefits and limitations of planning, and ultimately its potential in achieving 'good city form'.



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