Robert Lane: A Region Transformed: Place, Space, and Institutional Change in the Fourth Regional Plan

A city seen from across a lagoon with a crane walking through the water and men working in the foreground.

Robert Lane is a senior fellow for urban design at Regional Plan Association and directs the regional design program, which is devoted to reforming the metropolitan landscape through research and place-based planning and design interventions. He is responsible for the physical planning and design aspects of the just-released Fourth Regional Plan. Lane's current and recent past work focuses on the relationship between transit, land use, and urban design, and emphasizes public participation and communication through visual techniques. Projects include the Newark Vision Plan, Far West Side Redevelopment Alternatives Study, and the Civic Alliance community design workshop for the rebuilding of lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks. Industrial district design and redevelopment have been particular areas of focus and will be the subject of the forthcoming book, The Design of Urban Manufacturing, to be published by Routledge Press. Lane was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard GSD during the 2008–09 academic year, and was recently a fellow at the Design Trust for Public Space for the "Making Midtown" initiative.


The just-released Fourth Regional Plan for the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region imagines a region that has successfully managed a new set of challenges: affordability, failing suburbs, sea-level rise, and climate change. This vision relies not only on a new set of design strategies — from new building types to hybrid approaches to landscape design — but also on fundamental changes to the institutions, planning tools, and processes that remain mired in the last century. In his talk, Lane will describe how the transformations of landscape and institutions intersect in the fourth plan.

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