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Cape Town, South Africa



I am the John Portman Chair and Dean of the College of Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  The College is comprised of an unusual and powerful mix of disciplines -- Architecture, Building Construction and Real Estate, City and Regional Planning (my school), Industrial Design, and Music!  Our faculty and staff share important values and concerns:  fostering creativity and learning; designing things of beauty and utility at all scales (from product to structure to city); innovating in realms as diverse as technology, public policy, and music performance; and  addressing critical social and environmental challenges like affordable housing, social inequality, disparities in human health and physical capabilities,  and climate change. We aim, in short, to advance the collective social good! 


Check out the great work and talented people of the College at:


Prior to coming to Georgia Tech, I was a Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning and Associate Dean of Research in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. I'm also a past leader of the African Urbanism Humanities Lab at UVA, a research collaborative with members from across the humanities and social sciences focused on the urban transition of the African continent.

Urban planners are community-engaged design and policy professionals.  While for many of us our central focus is "the city", planners work in a wide variety of positions for a diverse array of organizations. Social equity and environmental sustainability are central to the field, as are healthy local economies.  If you are thinking about urban planning as a career, two great places to find out more are the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the American Planning Association.  Or call me and I'll bend your ear with the possibilities!

My main area of expertise and professional practice is in international development, with a particular focus on land tenure/property rights and access to land and housing in rapidly growing cities of the Global South. My engagement with African cities is a direct outgrowth of being a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya in the 1990s (see:  Life changing. An additional research focus is climate change and its impacts on cities.  

Welcome to my website.  I can be contacted by email at:

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