AUPD joins the new UMKC School of Science and Engineering in 2022.

The Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design will be joining the new UMKC School of Science in Engineering on July 1, 2022. Come to UMKC and learn to build the cities of tomorrow with programs in Architecture, Urban Planning + Design, Civil Engineering and Environmental Studies.

Statement of Solidarity with the African American Community

The UMKC Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design (AUPD) stands in solidarity with the African American community and communities of color in Kansas City and nationwide against racism and injustice.

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and too many others, and the police brutality that continues to threaten the quality of life in American cities, is untenable.

We are deeply concerned for the safety of our students, our neighborhood partners and leaders, our colleagues, and their families.

We know that many African American families have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID19 pandemic and were already suffering from great personal and family losses. Our heart goes out to you – our colleagues, friends and neighbors.

As educators and professionals, we are well aware of our responsibility to promote the values of equity and social justice. Hate, white supremacy, and racism have no place in our society – and especially in the public institutions that have been established to serve and protect.

The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Code of Ethics makes it abundantly clear that social justice is our responsibility:

We shall seek social justice by working to expand choice and opportunity for all persons, recognizing a special responsibility to plan for the needs of the disadvantaged and to promote racial and economic integration. We shall urge the alteration of policies, institutions, and decisions that oppose such needs.[i]

The American Institute of Architects has also adopted policies and programs related to equity, diversity and inclusion.[ii] We support the local and national American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Planning Association (APA) statements against racism and violence against African Americans and communities of color. We urge these professional organizations to invest significant financial and professional resources to help rebuild urban neighborhoods equitably, to fight racism within the professions across the country, and to expand access to planning and architecture for marginalized communities.

The AUPD faculty commit ourselves to anti-racism as a core principle of our approach to social justice in our teaching, research and service. The UMKC Center for Neighborhoods in AUPD reaffirms its mission to serve the Kansas City community, including many neighborhoods that have struggled to survive and thrive despite generations of disinvestment and racially-biased policies, through research and outreach.

For more information, please contact: 816-235-1725.



Urban Planning + Design is the only PAB accredited planning progam in Missouri.

The BA in Urban Planning + Design at UMKC is the only PAB accredited planning program in Missouri. Planning accreditation ensures that program graduates meet the standards necessary for professional planning practice.

Urban Planning + Design students take a rigorous 3-year studio sequence in planning + design, complete a professional planning internship, and graduate with a portfolio of skills. Graduates use this portfolio to show their capabilities to perspective employers. UPD alums work in New Zealand, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Colorado, Texas, Virginia and DC as well as in Missouri and Kansas. Our grads have gone to some of the best graduate schools in country.

Apply now for Fall 2019!

For more information about UMKC Urban Planning + Design, contact Program Director Michael Frisch, PhD, AICP at

Information about planning accreditation may be found here:





Samuel Valenzuela / Architecture


Samuel Valenzuela Is A Veteran Who Wants To Build For Veterans

Why architecture?

I grew up with family members who were in construction and landscaping. I’d watch them, and was always curious about their solution. I played with Lego bricks, I drew and made things. I liked putting things together.

What excites you?

New projects and the design process. I dream about building things and think about all of the details.

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

(Associate Teaching Professor) John Eck. I attended a summer architecture class in high school in 2008, which he taught. It made me come back after serving in the military.

What motto do you live by?

Semper Fi. Always faithful. I served in the Marines. I lived and traveled in Japan and Europe. I met interesting people,

How has the architecture program inspired you?

I want to design for veterans who require assistance.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

That in order to influence a whole group, it’s important to talk to different programs around campus.

Are you a first-generation college student?

Yes, it means that I have to try ever harder to set an example for my younger siblings.

What are your lifelong goals?

To start a firm.

What is one word that best describes you?

Curious. Curiosity has made me take paths in life that most people would not have.


Every detail has purpose



Urban Planning + DesignCollege of Arts and Sciences | 2018

At UMKC, the students are our story. Look, listen and learn about us through interviews, photographs and videos of our students. Read the rest of the student stories and go to and follow.

How has your college program inspired you?

In the AUP+D Program at UMKC, inspiration is effortless. Everyday I am inspired to see things through different lenses; to understand the root of human tendencies in order to better accommodate their behavior. We are not only taught to be great planners but also to be great citizens in the way we are inspired to regard other people.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I hate to be a cliché, as do most students who are trying to capture their individualistic essence at this stage in their lives, but college has in every way opened my eyes. Since entering, I have learned that I can be wrong, and there is no shame in it. The shame is realizing I am wrong and not changing my outlook and strategy. With this I have learned that limitations only exist when I choose not to work. I have the capability of achieving greatness, and if great things were easy, they would not be great, they would simply be.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

The best and my favorite piece of advice came from my environmental design professor, Rebecca Riden. It is a course in the architecture program we are all required to take in AUP+D and she says: When designing a building you must never slap anything on it, to make sure no matter how small the detail that it has a purpose. As a planner and a person, this remains useful. I make sure everything I do in life is purposeful, and as a result I walk with purpose; never aimlessly.

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

I admire the professors and the people running the AUP+D program. Joy D. Swallow, Stella Szymanski, Michael Frisch, Ted Seligson, Jacob Wagner, Sungyop Kim, Rebecca Riden, John Eck, Stephanie Frank, the people who make sure our building stays clean, and all of the people who play a hand in its functionality who I did not mention. These professors not only have incredible patience with us, but they also are constantly working on other projects outside of Katz Hall. They are practicing planners and architects. Meanwhile creating and being a part of beautiful things, they are playing the roles of our second parents in the way they take us in our rawest stages in these professions, pushing us in the hardest directions, and teaching us that a problem is only as big as we allow it to be. They go above and beyond my expectations, and I am incredibly grateful for their lessons and support.

Are you a first-generation college student?

My mother attended college but never finished. Given my Hispanic heritage and culture this means a lot. We are taught that family is the most important factor in our lives. Because I am one of the eldest of my generation, and the oldest of six children, it is my job to set the example for not only my siblings but also my younger cousins. If I do not finish, I am showing about 30 to 40 younger children that it is OK to leave things undone; and that is not what I am working toward. Being a first-generation college student I have the opportunity to inspire my family members, and hopefully allowing this effect to snowball towards inspiring other Hispanic youth who may come from unconventional circumstances.

What’s your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is losing sight of my motives. I am working towards doing what I love, not what will be the most profitable. I cannot forget that humanity deserves to remain my top priority.

What is one word that best describes you?

I would like to think that one word that best describes me is dynamic. As an adjective, it is characterized by constant change, activity or progress, but as a noun, it is one that motivates, affects development or stability. I hope to do all of those things. I hope to never remain stagnant, to always progress and in doing so, motivating my family and peers to burst past the barriers with me in efforts to achieve the greatest of things.

BUD Prize 2015

From left: Olivia Ashbrook, Sam Green, Lauren Silvers

Future architects learn design and responsibility

What does it take to stimulate an appetite for discovery in an urban environment, establish a space to both create and appreciate art, and build a connection among a park, a school, a church and a residential neighborhood?

It takes an architect with an understanding of urban design. And that is the underlying lesson for the second-year students in the Architectural Studies program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Students in Architectural Design Studio I, taught by faculty members John Eck and Ted Seligson in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, spent much of the semester working on an assignment to design a community art center for the Hyde Park/Manheim Park neighborhood.

A specific site was chosen – the northwest corner of Troost Avenue and Mannheim Road – and students were required to consider the immediate neighborhood’s context: a mix of residential space, parkland, and major buildings such as St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and DeLaSalle Education Center.

“Although the program asks you to provide a pleasing and functional space for a number of art-related activities, your responsibility does not stop there,” the assignment’s creative brief reads. “Your art center has the potential to physically bring the community together—through art shows, classes and other events. When you design the art center, your client is not only the art center—it is also, and perhaps even more importantly, the community.”

The building was required to include an outdoor entry court, entry vestibule, gallery, six artist studios, a wood/metal shop, print shop, outdoor work space and an apartment and studio for a visiting artist.

In addition to learning their future profession, the students also competed for the annual Bud Prize, a $1,000 scholarship established in 2004 with Helix / Architecture + Design to honor Edwin S. “Bud” Persons, who was a Senior Interior Architect with Helix.

First Prize in the competition went to Olivia Ashbrook. Her design called for a steel structure with white metal paneling on inside spaces for a pure, sleek appearance; a central gallery uses glass paneling to allow natural light.

In an accompanying essay, Ashbrook wrote “The gallery became the central focus of this design, or the hierarchy space … located in the center of the building, with the rest of the spaces wrapped around it.”

The gallery can be glimpsed, but not seen fully from the street, she added, so it “becomes something to be discovered, drawing people in off the street.” The design called for a structure built to a residential scale but “the aesthetic is meant to declare a commercial presence.” Exterior louvers are covered by art to shade the studios and act as signage for the center.

Lauren Silvers earned second prize for her design, a square structure with a central courtyard that serves as the heart of the art center, illuminated by a screened skylight, with secondary spaces grouped around it.

Sam Green earned Honorable Mention. Other participating students in the studio included George Aguilar, Elana Carter, Landon Cook, Jadenn Kelley, JD Meyers, Alex Overbay, Dennis Tong, Sam Valenzuela and Charlie Vue.

Jurors for the competition were Joy Swallow, Architect and AUP+D Department Chair; Shannon Jaax, Planner/ Director of the Repurposing Initiative for Kansas City Public Schools; Alissa Wehmueller, Director of Interiors at Helix / Architecture + Design; Jennifer Tuttle, Artist and Artist’s Mentor; and Christopher Fein, Architect and Professor of Architecture at Kansas State University.

(Story via John Martellaro, UMKC Communications)

Center for Neighborhoods

The Center for Neighborhoods is our new outreach and research center based in the Department and located at 4747 Troost Avenue in Kansas City Missouri. We will serve neighborhoods leaders in Missouri through a series of programs, technical assistance and university-community partnerships to build the capacity of local neighborhood organizations and homeowner’s associations. This Center is funded by the State of Missouri and is a direct result of leadership provided by State Senator Shalonn “Kiki” Curls of Missouri.

It’s that time of year… Final reviews! You’re invited.

Our students have been busy all semester….

Please swing by Katz Hall in the next few days and see our students in action during final reviews and presentations…

Pavilion Project – first year studio
9 December / Katz Hall, 101, 107

Valentine Neighborhood / Site alternatives for
Urban Planning and Design I
2:30 pm
Katz Hall 101

Seattle Conference / Student REPORT!

conference APA photo

The National American Planning Association (APA) conference was in sunny Seattle this year and had more than 6,400 attendees. Luisa Calumpong and Andrew Pollock, seniors from the UMKC Urban Planning + Design had the great opportunity to attend, volunteer, and visit several neighborhoods in Seattle. Sessions were filled to capacity, the speakers were engaging, and the expositions and demonstrations were cutting edge. The Tech Zone was a new part of the conference and had exciting and interactive demonstrations of new 3d viewing and simulations. Students were able to network with planners and students from across the country as they spoke about community projects, developments, and new plans.

Andrew especially enjoyed hearing about public process used in Louisville’s newest plan, and speaking with young professionals.

Luisa met a lot of young, emerging planners as well as new, yet seasoned, attendees. She especially enjoyed the session on new tools for integrating planning processes with digital media. The opening keynote on Sunday was impressive as the WSCC was filled with thousands of planners and the speakers (Seattle mayor and King County official) were very engaging.

Andrew and Luisa would like to thank Kansas City Chapter of the American Planning Association for encouraging and supporting students to learn more and engage planning professionals.