Queen's University

School of

Urban and Regional Planning


Urban and Regional Planning

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David Gordon

B.Sc., M.PL. (Queen's), MBA, D.Des. (Harvard), FCIP, RPP, AICP, P.Eng.
Professor and Director

On leave January - July 2015

Contact Information

Office: Robert Sutherland Hall, Room 541
Telephone: (613) 533-6000 x 77063
Email: david.gordon [@] queensu.ca
Research Websites: Planning Canadian CommunitiesPlanning Canada's Capital; Canadian Suburbs

Curriculum Vitae (361KB)

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David Gordon teaches planning history, community design and urban development at Queen's. He has also taught at the University of Toronto, Ryerson, Harvard and University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. Before becoming a professor, David was a professional planner for over 15 years, as director of an urban design firm and project manager for a Toronto waterfront agency. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners and has shared their National Award of Distinction three times.

David has written widely on urban planning including the books Planning Twentieth Century Capital Cities (2006) and Planning Canadian Communities (2014 with Gerald Hodge). His latest research includes a book on the history of Canada's capital city and exploration of Canadian suburbs.

Dave is Faculty Coordinator of the National Executive Forum on Public Property and a founding director of the Council for Canadian Urbanism, where he chairs the Research Committee. He also enjoys celebrating the achievements of SURP alumni across Canada, and helping plan the redevelopment of the Queen's campus.

David was born in Ottawa and grew up in Montreal, New Brunswick and Europe. He lives in Upper Canada's oldest neighbourhood, and is active in community environmental and social service organizations. Dave can often be seen cycling around downtown Kingston with his daughter.

Research Interests

My current major research field, planning history, uses longitudinal studies of planning practice to answer questions about implementation. The site is Canada's national capital region, which is the focus of the country's longest sustained urban planning effort. The capital city research program was supported by three SSHRC grants and a Fulbright fellowship. The results are reported in a book, many  refereed articles and a website. This research stream will culminate in another book, Town and Crown: An illustrated history of Canada's capital.

A second research focus is planning Canadian suburbs. This area has been addressed in articles in the Journal of the American Planning AssociationJournal of Architectural and Planning Research and Journal of Urban Design. The project was supported by a SSHRC grant to examine the proportions and policy implications of Canadian suburbs.

Another research field, waterfront planning, grew from experience with a federal agency redeveloping Toronto's harbour. The technical aspects of the research were published in major international journals and as the concluding chapter in the Urban Land Institute's waterfront book. The New York case was published as a book and London, Boston and Toronto cases appeared in several articles and chapters.

Selected Publications

Books and Monographs :

 Planning Canadian Communities, 6th ed. Toronto: Nelson, 2014, 440 pp. (with Gerald Hodge).

Planning Canadian Communities provides a comprehensive view of the needs, origins, contemporary practices and future challenges in planning Canada’s cities, towns and regions. With this updated sixth edition, Planning Canadian Communities begins its 27st year of community planning analysis in the cities, towns, and regions of Canada. This book, the most widely used planning text in Canada since 1986, tells how community planning got started in Canada, how it works today, and who participates in it.

Gerald Hodge and David Gordon explain the challenges involved in dialogue about the best ways to build ecologically, economically, physically and socially sound communities. The task has become no easier in the quarter-century since this book was first published. The sixth edition has been extensively revised and enhanced to aid understanding of community planning's principles, practice, and participants.

Winner of the 2014 Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Planning Excellence

Book Website: PlanningCanadianCommunities.ca

Planning Twentieth-Century Capital Cities (ed.) 302 pp., London: Routledge, 2006, 302 pp. (R). Softcover edition issued 2010. (R).

The twentieth century witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of capital cities worldwide – in 1900 there were only about forty, but by 2000 there were more than two hundred. And this, surely, is reason enough for a book devoted to the planning and development of capital cities in the twentieth century.

However, the focus here is not only on recently created capitals. Indeed, the case studies which make up the core of the book show that, while very different, the development of London or Rome presents as great a challenge to planners and politicians as the design and building of Brasília or Chandigarh. Put simply, this book sets out to explore what makes capital cities different from other cities, why their planning is unique, and why there is such variety from one city to another.

Sir Peter Hall’s ‘Seven Types of Capital City’ and Lawrence Vale’s ‘The Urban Design of Twentieth Century Capital Cities’ provide the setting for the fifteen case studies which follow – Paris, Moscow and St Petersburg, Helsinki, London, Tokyo, Washington, Canberra, Ottawa-Hull, Brasília, New Delhi, Berlin, Rome, Chandigarh, Brussels, New York. To bring the book to a close Peter Hall looks to the future of capital cities in the twenty-first century.

For anyone with an interest in urban planning and design, architectural, planning and urban history, urban geography, or simply capital cities and why they are what they are, Planning Twentieth Century Capital Cities will be the key source book for a long time to come.

Battery Park City: Politics and Planning on the New York Waterfront, New York: Routledge / Gordon and Breach, 1997. 155 pp. (R).

Battery Park City in Manhattan has been hailed as a triumph of urban design, and is considered to be one of the success stories of American urban redevelopment planning. The flood of praise for its design, however, can obscure the many lessons from the long struggle to develop the project. Nothing was built on the site for more than a decade after the first master plan was approved, and the redevelopment agency flirted with bankruptcy in 1979.

Taking a practice-oriented approach, the book examines the role of planning and development agencies in implementing urban waterfront redevelopment. It focuses upon the experience of the central actor - the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) - and includes personal interviews with executives of the BPCA, former New York mayors John Lindsay and Ed Koch, key public officials, planners, and developers. Describing the political, financial, planning, and implementation issues faced by public agencies and private developers from 1962 to 1993, it is both a case study and history of one of the most ambitious examples of urban waterfront redevelopment.

Book Chapters:

“Ottawa: Lumber town to federal capital” in H. Mayer (ed.) Im Herzen der Macht? Hauptstädte und ihre Funktion, 2013. Universität Bern, Geographisches Institut.

“Jacques Gréber e o Plano de 1950 para a Região da Capital Nacional do Canadá” in T. Andresen, M. Fernandes and J. Almeida (eds.) Jacques Gréber: Urbanist and Garden Designer, Porto: Serralves Foundation, 2011, pp. 108-33.

“Plans for the Future of Canada’s Capital” in R. Chattopadhyay & G. Paquet (eds.) The Unimagined Canadian Capital: Challenges for the Federal Capital Region, Ottawa: Invenire Press, 2011, pp.109-122.

“Bridging Mechanisms for the Ottawa-Gatineau Region” (with André Juneau) in R. Chattopadhyay & G. Paquet (eds.)The Unimagined Canadian Capital: Challenges for the Federal Capital Region, Ottawa: Invenire Press, 2011, pp. 87-104.

"Ottawa's Greenbelt Evolves from Urban Separator to Key Ecological Planning Component" in Marco Amati (ed.)Urban Greenbelts in the 21st Century, London: Ashgate, 2008, pp. 187-217. (with Richard Scott*).

(R) = peer reviewed; *= student or former student co-author

Green belts are among the oldest and most widely used policies for controlling sprawl. During the twentieth century they have been employed to contain the explosive growth of cities as varied as Tokyo, Seoul and Melbourne with a variety of results. Increasingly, policy-makers, researchers and even environmentalists have pointed to the failings of a green belt approach, favouring more pragmatic or more linear green space concepts such as eco-belts and greenways. As yet, no research has attempted to gather these experiences together, to guide future reforms and consider whether a green belt is a useful policy for the twenty-first century. By bringing together and comparing the experiences of green belt reform across Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, this book adds to the understanding of how a green belt can be effected in theory and how practitioners have adapted or reformed the green belt in practice. A team of leading researchers and practitioners examine how contemporary debates, on sustainability, ecology and political reform intersect with the implementation of green belts globally and the discipline of planning. The book provides a series of case studies to enable researchers and policy-makers alike to reach conclusions on the usefulness of green belts, the challenges that exist in implementing them and the impact of their alternatives.

"Unanticipated Benefits: The role of planning in the development of Ottawa region technology industries" in N. Novakowski and R. Tremblay (eds.) Perspectives on Ottawa's High-tech Sector<, Brussels: Peter Lang, 2007, pp. 89-118 (with Betsy Donald and John Kozuskanich*) (R).

The book is organized into four themes: Ottawa: A Knowledge City; Planning the Cluster: By Decision, By Design or By Destiny?; Growing the Cluster: Idea Farming and Innovation Strategies for Economic Development; and The Unique Ottawa Cluster: Regional, Bilingual, and Cosmopolitan. The dominant message of the book is that planning for the knowledge city begins with a nexus of telecommunications, logistical and educational advantages, which is built upon by incremental knowledge-building decisions.

"Capital Cities and Culture: Evolution of twentieth-century capital city planning" in Javier Monclus and Manuel Guardia (eds.) Culture, Urbanism and Planning, London: Ashgate, 2006, pp. 63-84.

The relationship between culture and urbanism has been the focus of much discussion and debate in recent years. While globalization tends towards a homogeneity, successful 'global cities' have a strong individual - and particularly cultural - identity. The economic value of the culture of cities lies not only in the arts taking place there but also in the city's fabric, its architecture, and in its cultural heritage. This volume brings together a team of leading specialists to examine the policies of image and city marketing which have developed over the past 15 years and whether these are a continuity of earlier strategies. Featuring case studies which illustrate diverse perspectives on linking culture, urbanism and history, the book reviews heritage and planning culture, looking at the experience of urbanism in the 'Old Historic City'. The book also assesses the increasingly important issue of urban images and their influence on planning strategies.

"Implementing Urban Waterfront Redevelopment," Remaking the Urban Waterfront, Washington DC: Urban Land Institute, 2004, pp. 80-99 (R).

Waterfronts provide a natural opportunity to make a memorable urban place, yet many of them remain obsolete or underused. Remaking the Urban Waterfront, written by expert architects and planners, explains the importance of and challenges inherent in transforming waterfronts, the key design issues, zoning and land use regulations, environmental obstacles, development incentives, and how the public and private sectors must work together to create spectacular new waterfronts. Case studies of both small- and large-scale projects describe how mixed-use, residential, retail/entertainment, commercial/ industrial, civic buildings, and parks were developed in the United States and abroad.

Refereed Journal Articles:

“Suburban Nation? Estimating the size of Canada’s suburban population” (with Mark Janzen*) Journal of Architecture and Planning Research, 30:3 (2013) 197-220. (R).

“Gordon Stephenson and Urban Renewal in Kingston, Ontario” (with Michelle Nicholson*) Town Planning Review, (2012) 83:3; pp.337-54 (R).

“Reflecting on the career of a ‘technical man’” (with Jenny Gregory) Town Planning Review, (2012) 83:3; pp. 397-405 (R).

“Gordon Stephenson, planner and civic designer” (with Jenny Gregory) Town Planning Review, (2012) 83:3; pp. 269-78 (R).

“The other author of the 1908 Chicago Plan: Edward H. Bennett”, Planning Perspectives, 25:2, (2010), pp. 229-241. (R).

“Implementing Plans for Political Capitals” (with M. Seasons) Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 18:1 (2009) pp. 94-117. (R).

" 'Agitating People's Brains': Noulan Cauchon and the City Scientific in Canada's Capital" Planning Perspectives 23:3, (2008), pp. 349-379. (R).

"Lost in Translation: A brief comparison of Canadian land use planning terminology" Plan Canada, 46:2, (2007), pp. 28-31. (with T. Elliott*). (R).

"The 1950 Plan for the National Capital: An Example of Vision in Planning" Plan Canada, 45: 3 (2005), pp. 18-21. (R).

"Gross Density and New Urbanism: Comparing conventional and New Urbanist suburbs in Markham, Ontario" Journal of the American Planning Association, (with S. Vipond*) 71: 2 (2005) pp. 41-54. (R).

(R) = peer reviewed; *= student or former student co-author