UTSOAThe University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

Planning Forum

Journal of Community and Regional Planning
published by the School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin

Planning Forum disseminates practical information and scholarly research related to the study of human communities and the interaction of social, political, built, and natural environments. Planning Forum promotes discussion and enhances the influence of research related to the planning discipline from a variety of academic areas and professional fields.

Call for Papers for 2010 Edition

Deadline for abstracts: January 5, 2010

Planning Forum invites faculty, graduate student, and professional submissions for its 2010 issue on the theme of “Unsettled State: New Texas Urbanity,” focusing on the distinctive conditions of Texas urbanism. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be sent as an e-mail attachment to the editorial staff at: utexasplanningforum@gmail.com. Read below for detailed guidelines.

Unsettled State: New Texas Urbanity

The vast Texas landscape has long occupied popular imagination, but as a dense, urban megaregion, the state remains marginalized and unexamined. Beyond depictions of small-town vernacular architecture—oil derricks, dance-halls and cattle ranches—there is another Texas that remains invisible to outsiders and overlooked in the scholarship of American cities. This urban Texas includes three of the ten most populous cities in the country—Houston, Dallas and San Antonio—and over six times as many urban residents as rural. Moreover, informal settlements are expanding, both along the Mexican border as well as on the perimeter of larger cities, disrupting established urban-rural gradients. Throughout the state, rapid growth and urbanization continue, absent strong statewide land use regulation. Texas cities are cultural, economic and ecological centers, but differentiation among planning and design strategies and diverse urban conditions are neither well understood nor analyzed within planning scholarship.

We invite articles and designs that analyze and represent urban Texas in relation to the contradictions that emerge from urban growth patterns and various planning, regulatory and design strategies. For example, what are the ways planning is practiced in Houston—notorious for its lack of zoning regulations—and how do the city’s spatial arrangements exceed and frustrate our idealized expectations for good city form and mixed-use development? What are the implications of the peri-urban colonias, which combine the problems of both slum and suburb? Caused in equal part by a lack of land use regulations, economic discrimination and the desire for the autonomy and dignity associated with home ownership, how has the colonia produced new physical and social landscapes defined by poverty and inaccessibility? How do thousands of recent immigrants to Texas cities—internally-displaced persons from hurricanes, rust-belt castaways, arrivals from Mexico and migrant workers—challenge planners and designers to confront refugee and social service issues usually relegated to the calamities of the Global South? As the region’s urban environments consume ever more agricultural land, increasing demands on scarce resources, how does ongoing urbanization highlight the conflict between atomistic individualism and the movement towards more collective governmental, cultural and ecological regionalisms? With expansive, undeveloped landscapes, Texas invites the schemes and strategies of planners and designers. However, the perception of a blank canvas disguises the many obstructions of a legal and political framework favoring private property, nimbyism, and anti-planning, further complicating these questions.

Urban Texas is rife with contradictions played out through the land, the built environment and political agendas. In this issue of Planning Forum, we invite scholarship that asks how these contradictions might be addressed, and how a unique urbanism might arise out of complex, even imperfect strategies for these issues. What can we learn from examining and unsettling the urban condition in Texas?

Submission Guidelines

Planning Forum is the double-blind peer-reviewed journal of the Department of Community and Regional Planning, School of Architecture, University of Texas-Austin. Focus articles are generally between 5,000 and 7,000 words, while shorter articles are between 1,000 and 3,000 words. We encourage interdisciplinary submissions that consider conditions of scale, time, change and gradient, and submissions addressing the Texas Urban through international and global perspectives. =We also welcome photographs, maps, plans and other creative or design-based submissions addressing Texas urbanism and visual aspects of the Texas urban condition. At this time, abstracts of no more than 500 words should be sent as an e-mail attachment to the editorial staff for consideration at: utexasplanningforum@gmail.com. The deadline for abstract submission is December 1, 2009.

All previous Planning Forum volumes and articles are available for download.


Annual subscriptions are available free of charge to any student, faculty member, library, school, planning department or firm in the United States. The next issue of the journal will be published in August.

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