I’ve always struggle with planning vs urban design, I tend to call myself an urban designer because of the scale I enjoyed working at.
Juris Greste in the paper “Urban Design in QLD” makes this interesting distinction about process and outcomes.
5. What is the difference between planners and urban designers.
There are already many skilled planners. Why do we need urban designers as well? The main difference between planners and urban designers is that planners tend to concern themselves more
with the process aspects in managing land uses and urban development, whereas urban designers focus more on the end result – the three dimensional world of social interaction, cultural expression, history and quality of life.
One could also use the travelling metaphor to describe the difference. Planners might acquire a sound vehicle and choose a route to get them to a destination in a general preferred direction. Urban designers would determine first the particular place they want to get to before choosing the vehicle and the route. Another special quality that urban designers have is that they tend to see the urban fabric as a whole rather than dwell on individual parts. In that role they are the integrators of the many different specialists in the built environment professional domain. To use a medical metaphor, urban designers are the skilled general practitioners who treat the patient holistically rather than as specialists who concentrate only on one part of the body or aspect of ill
In a different conversation, trying to define “architecture”, it seems to be most built environmental professionals actually should play that lead in intergation (colloboration) roles.
From the same paper, in Appendix (speech by Rachel Nolan)
“Urban design is an important professional discipline bringing together the skills of town planning, architecture, landscape architecture and sociology in the design of spaces that make you feel good about the world.”
I liked that line.