UrbanPlan is a simulation classroom exercise in which students work in development teams to analyze and respond to a hypothetical "Request for Proposal" for the redevelopment of an urban area in need of reinvestment. The mission of UrbanPlan is to create a more civil and sophisticated dialogue about land use at the local level through the education of our future voters, neighbors, public officials, and land use professionals.




Conceived by ULI in conjunction with UC-Berkeley, UrbanPlan has reached over 20,000 high school and university students across the country since 2003. UrbanPlan is designed to challenge students in the areas of public speaking, communications, team dynamics, creativity, decision-making and community values. It exposes students to issues related to government, economics, finance, environmental sciences, sociology and geography. To learn more about UrbanPlan, watch this short video about UrbanPlan created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Also, you can learn more at www.UrbanPlan.org.

How does it work?

Through UrbanPlan’s 15-hour classroom curriculum, students learn the essence of development: how the forces of our market economy clash and collaborate with the non-market forces of our representative democracy to create the built environment – providing the foundation required for any informed land use discussion. Over the course of the exercise, ULI members who are local land use professionals interact with the students on a regular basis. As “facilitators” in the classroom, they challenge the students to think more critically about the UrbanPlan issues and the specific responsibilities of the students assigned roles as finance directors, marketing directors, city liaisons, neighborhood liaisons, and site planners. ULI members also serve on a “City Council” to judge the teams’ proposals.

UrbanPlan in Our Region

Around 400 students in the Washington region take part in the program each year (with almost 2,500 high school, college, and graduate students in the DC metro region having participated so far). Currently, ULI Washington works with teachers in the following schools to implement UrbanPlan:

  • Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (Bethesda, MD)
  • Washington-Lee High School (Arlington, VA)
  • Georgetown University, Masters of Professional Studies in Real Estate (Washington, DC)
  • George Mason University, Masters in Real Estate Development (Arlington, VA)

How do I get involved?

ULI Members: UrbanPlan thrives due to the generosity and commitment of ULI Washington’s members and sponsors. In order to serve as a classroom volunteer, members must first participate in a half-day training session, where they are assigned roles in the development team and engage in a “lightning-round” version of the exercise. Once training is complete, ULI staff recruits volunteers to serve in the classroom during the school year in opportunities lasting 1-3 hours. While there is no minimum or maximum requirement for volunteers to serve throughout the year, we ask volunteers facilitate at least once a year to stay current on the materials.  Volunteering with Urban Plan is a great way to interact with students, share your subject matter expertise, and connect with fellow ULI members. Please visit the UP Volunteer FAQ Sheet for any other concerns.

Teachers: UrbanPlan is most often taught in economics and government classes and can be adapted to suit high-school juniors and seniors as well as college and Master’s level students. To explore whether UrbanPlan might work in your classroom, read High School Teacher FAQ Sheet and University Professor FAQ Sheet.

UrbanPlan Chair

Dan Anderton


UrbanPlan Chair


(301) 337-2852

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ULI Washington Staff

Margit Nahra

UrbanPlan Program Director


(240) 605-8735