Urban Design + Place Strategies

Who We Are

The Urban Design  and Place Strategies team focuses on implementing the public’s vision for Asheville through community-driven planning, high-quality urban design, and active management of the public realm. We work across departments to coordinate the visioning, design and implementation efforts for public spaces and city-owned properties, and provide City leadership with guidance and assistance on the coordination of strategic projects and investments.  

We build strong relationships with residents, businesses, developers, and creatives that result in innovative public-private partnerships. 

Our core services include: 

★Using design thinking to identify opportunities and create solutions that are specific to each of our communities’ unique physical, social, and economic conditions.

★Serving as a direct point of contact for anyone who has an interest in downtown Asheville, the heart of our city, and advising City leadership on policies and best practices to make Downtown a better place for everyone in our community. We believe Downtown is a place worthy of special attention because it can provide our community with the best options for increasing economic opportunities, strengthening social bonds, creating a healthier place to live, and promoting equity and inclusion.

★Supporting Asheville as a work of art by facilitating placemaking and keeping projects that provide community benefit, drive creative commerce, and enhancing the growth and maintenance of our public art collection. 

Creating design solutions that result in equitable, safe, walkable and welcoming places for people of all mobilities; with an eye on improving access to employment and recreation, and neighborhood goods and services . 

The Urban Design and Place Strategies division helps coordinate visioning, design and implementation efforts for public spaces and city-owned properties.  We also work on special projects that connect directly to the public’s interest. We think the public realm is the place where we have the greatest opportunities to address some of our largest societal problems, including racism, environmental justice, climate change, and public health.  

Contact Steph Monson Dahl for more information  

Current/Recent Projects 

Pack Square Plaza Visioning 

Documenting the community’s vision for a more equitable, accessible and inclusive Pack Square Plaza, which sits in the heart of downtown Asheville and serves as a social and economic hub for the region

Asheville Shares Space 

Our response to economic recovery during and in the long tail of  COVID 19 

Public Art Program and Place Partners 

Place Partners is a path for community members to propose temporary placekeeping and public art projects outside of the City’s regular public art schedule of work 

Haywood and Page 

The community’s plan for the formerly named Pit-of-Despair 

Examples of our place-based work

downtown asheville innovation logo.

Downtown (the Central Business District) is the urban center of Asheville and the region, serving as a retail, office, hotel, institutional, cultural and entertainment hub in our community. Public and private investment is encouraged through zoning and urban design to support a strong retail center with high density residential development that complements other downtown uses and surrounding neighborhoods. The City’s prioritizes and promotes investments that support a vibrant and walkable downtown environment.



river arts district asheville innovation logo


The River district promotes sustainable planning, redevelopment and growth in the Swannanoa and French Broad River corridors. The River Arts District is a business corridor of working artist studios, river outfitters, retail, bars and restaurants and music venues. Established residential neighborhoods surround the district with in-district residential development emerging. Construction of major works public infrastructure will last from 2019 to 2020.


south slope asheville logo

South Slope is just south of Asheville’s traditional downtown area with a mix of uses including breweries, arts, restaurants, residents and industrial businesses. The area is undergoing a transformation from underutilized industrial properties to a vibrant urban neighborhood and destination. Public infrastructure investments are being pursued as part of a community visioning process.