The UDC, a collaboration of the University of Western Australia, Curtin University of Technology and the State Department for Planning and Infrastructure, operates out of offices in central Perth. Its mission is to improve the quality of urban places in Western Australia, by expanding our understanding of how the built environment affects community life, and providing innovative solutions to design and development issues of significant public impact.
These objectives are pursued through collaborative research, demonstration projects, and public education and advocacy programs, bringing to bear the resources of the State’s two design schools and an independent staff of qualified urban designers, working with government agencies and community interest groups. By next year, we also expect to be offering a joint Master of Urban Design degree that draws on service learning experiences available through the UDC’s professional projects, supplemented by existing architecture, landscape and planning programs at UWA and Curtin.
The UDC is directed by Ruth Durack, with oversight from a Board of Directors and input from an Advisory Committee which represents the wide array of disciplines and community interests involved in the task of making urban places. Ruth is a graduate of the Architecture School at UWA, holds Masters degrees in architecture, planning and urban design from the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania, and is a Loeb Fellow of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Before returning to Perth in 2004, she practiced as an urban design consultant with Wallace Roberts & Todd, based in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and was the Director of the Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio, an organization with a similar mission to the new UDC in WA.
If you have any advice for Ruth from your experiences in setting up design centres or capturing elephants, or would like any further information about the UDC’s programs, please e-mail her or call (08) 9440 2368, or meet her at the National Urban Design Forum in Melbourne in April.