/ Europe

UrbanPlan Expands across Europe

Students in Poland, Ireland, and Germany are now participating in the hands-on, immersive educational workshop that illustrates the fundamental forces of urban development

ULI’s UrbanPlan program brings the challenges of the built environment to life for the next generation of citizens and leaders. It aims to educate young people about the fundamental forces at play when neighborhoods are redeveloped and communities are revitalized.   

What began as a workshop at a single high school in the San Francisco Bay area has now expanded to more than 90 high schools and universities in six countries. More than 40,000 students have participated in UrbanPlan workshops since the program was launched in 2003.

In FY 2017, UrbanPlan continued its global expansion with new programs in Poland, Ireland, and Germany. In Poland, 32 high school students participated in a workshop at the American School of Warsaw. In Ireland, about 100 students in four schools in Dublin, Cork, and Galway participated in workshops, and in Germany, 150 students at five schools and universities did, as well. The expansion across Europe follows the momentum created by ULI United Kingdom, which launched the UrbanPlan program more than two years ago. More than 1,000 students from 35 schools in England and Scotland participated in UrbanPlan workshops.




High school and university students who participated in UrbanPlan in FY 2017

  • “It’s nothing you can get right out of a textbook. This is nontraditional learning, but it’s the best kind of learning because it puts [students] in the very role that they maybe will take on later in life.”

    – Michael Sheehan, principal of the American School of Warsaw, on UrbanPlan
1 / 1

UrbanPlan brings ULI members into the classroom as volunteer mentors and advisers for students as they put together a development proposal for an imaginary site that is financially feasible, balances private interests with public benefits, and builds consensus among stakeholders. UrbanPlan volunteers also play the role of a mock city council that hears proposals from student teams and provides them with feedback.

“It’s nothing you can get right out of a textbook,” says Michael Sheehan, principal of American School of Warsaw. “This is nontraditional learning, but it’s the best kind of learning because it puts [students] in the very role that they maybe will take on later in life.”

ULI Germany: UrbanPlan workshops were offered at several schools in Germany, and plans are to expand the program in the FY 2018.

Indeed, one of the goals of UrbanPlan in Europe has been to introduce students from a wider range of backgrounds to careers in real estate development and urban planning. Interacting with practicing professionals gives students a real-world sense of what a career in urban development entails. Similarly, ULI members and volunteers have a chance to hear from those who will be leading and developing European cities in the coming decades.

“Sometimes we get too stuck in our own way of thinking,” says UrbanPlan volunteer Nicklas Lindberg, chief executive officer of Echo Investment, one of Warsaw’s largest real estate developers. “For me as CEO and the management team around me, we need to get the influence of these young students coming out today. We can call this a little of ‘reversed mentoring,’ where we’re learning from the young people what will be the future of our business.” 

Learn more about the UrbanPlan program in the Americas and UrbanPlan in the United Kingdom.

Watch a video about UrbanPlan in Poland.


Major Gift

Ron Nahas Makes a $300,000 Gift to the UrbanPlan Program

One of the founders of the UrbanPlan program made a historic $300,000 matching gift in FY 2017 to significantly expand the program. ULI Foundation governor Ron Nahas pledged $300,000 so that the program can build capacity to reach more students and schools and engage a greater number of ULI member-volunteers. The gift aims to modernize the UrbanPlan curriculum to take advantage of digital technology and platforms and to further expand the UrbanPlan for Public Officials workshop, a version of UrbanPlan for public officials who want to learn more about real estate development and working with the private sector.

A longtime ULI member, Nahas is a partner in Rafanelli and Nahas and is president of R.T. Nahas Company in Nevada. He is also the chairman of the board of Bridge Housing, an affordable housing developer and asset manager in the San Francisco Bay area.


/ Global

Forging Connections around the World

ULI’s global conferences are powerful venues for learning, networking, and growth.

Read More

Jon Zehner and
Birgit Werner

  • Birgit Werner
    ULI Switzerland
  • Jon Zehner
    ULI Europe Chairman
Watch More