Events, People

SOM Participates in 2019 National Planning Conference

Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Image © SOM

The 2019 National Planning Conference will take place from April 13th through April 16th in San Francisco. Twelve individuals from various SOM offices will speak on a variety of topics, from designing downtown San Francisco to the future of public spaces. 

The annual conference, organized by the American Planning Association, provides planners, city officials, and industry leaders with four days of learning and networking, and the opportunity to explore San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. With hundreds of sessions and presentations, attendees can dig deeper into their specialty or explore new topics.

If you are attending this year, make sure to stop by one of the sessions listed below to connect with some of SOM’s leading planning professionals.

In addition to the presenters listed below, SOM team members participating in the conference include Keiko Murayama and Nadia Conceicao. Learn more about the conference and take a closer look at the full program by visiting


April 13, 2019

San Francisco Urban Transformations
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

SOM Speaker: Leo Chow
During this session, examples of urban redevelopment will be highlighted through conversation with leaders from the planning, economic development, urban advocacy, and architecture sectors regarding San Francisco’s transformation and the city’s past, present, and future.

Designing Downtown San Francisco: Behind the Scenes
12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

SOM Speakers: Ellen Lou, Saki Mizuguchi, Kenichiro Suzuki, Athina Loumou
Led by the urban planners and architects behind the policies and design of downtown San Francisco, this tour focuses on the rich history, plans, and guidelines that shape the buildings and public spaces of the district, much of which has been influenced by the planning and architecture of SOM.


April 14, 2019

San Francisco Orientation Tour
8:00 – 11:30 a.m.

SOM Speaker: John Beutler
Participants will visit locations throughout the center and northern parts of San Francisco. Tour leaders will discuss the geography and history of the city, highlighting its transformation into a global technology hub, as well as current issues in San Francisco through the lens of planning and urban design, including rapid growth, affordability, and preservation.

The Girl with the Red Bag
10:30 – 11:45 a.m.

SOM Speaker: Daniel O’Shaughnessy
These "Fast, Funny, and Passionate" presentations will be moderated by John Reinhardt. Expect to learn about the latest insights on a variety of important planning issues in a concise and entertaining manner.

Bay Area Deprivation and Regeneration Study
2:15 – 2:45 p.m.

SOM Speaker: Anne Chen
Income inequality, segregation, displacement, starkly uneven upward mobility, these are on the dark side of Bay Area's rapid economic growth. The study overlays data to highlight communities that are suffering economically, of what they are deprived, and what may stimulate improvements.

Women in Private Practice: Career R/Evolutions
2:45 – 4:00 p.m.

SOM Speaker: Ellen Lou
Director of Urban Design and Planning Ellen Lou and other women leaders in the field discuss their paths in private practice.


April 15, 2019

Mission Bay: From Biohazard to Biotech
9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
SOM Speakers: Athina Loumou, Anne Chen, Alan Lewis, Saki Mizuguchi

Participants will visit Mission Bay and the Dogpatch districts to learn about some of the developments, partnerships, and projects that have transformed them in the last two decades. Recent SOM projects include UCSF’S new graduate housing complex and the Sandler Neuroscience Center. 

"Unspecific Plans" That Adapt to Change
1:00 – 2:15 p.m.

SOM Speaker: Ellen Lou
Regulatory tools such as Specific Plans ensure predictability, but they can inadvertently preclude desired outcomes as external factors—particularly shifting market conditions—change. Leading professionals will discuss the increasing need for flexibility in regulatory tools and explore how "Unspecific Plans" can support longterm development potential.

The Future of Public Space
1:00 – 2:15 p.m.

SOM Speakers: Peter Kindel, Daniel O’Shaughnessy
In 2018, SOM published The Future of Public Space, a collection of essays that explore how different types of public space—urban and rural, real and virtual—impact everyday experiences in an increasingly privatized world. The idea originated from a desire to start an inclusive and unconventional conversation about the built environment; it is intended to bring together leading voices on a single topic, in this case public space. Inspired by this book, this session brings together a diverse panel of designers, critics, artists, and policymakers to explore what public space means in today’s world—across disciplines and cultures—while thinking about the future in an increasingly privatized and surveilled world.


April 16, 2019

Treasure Island: A Forward-looking Community
10:15 – 11:30 a.m.

SOM Speaker: Leo Chow
Learn about the redevelopment of San Francisco's Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island, which together will create a 21st-century neighborhood based on principles of sustainability, community diversity, and social vibrancy. Once complete, the community will be home to 15,000 residents, mixed-use development, shoreline parks, sports fields, urban wilds, and an urban farm park.

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