What is Planning?

Division Mission

Planning is the process of creating long-term visions for places and communities as small as an intersection and as large as a region. Planning takes advantage of, and seeks to influence, the social, economic, physical, and natural factors affecting a community. In Boston, a city that contains a rich mix of distinctive neighborhoods, historic districts, universities, hospitals, and natural landforms, planning occurs at the streetscape, neighborhood, institutional, and waterfront scales. The Boston Planning & Development Agency Planning Division works closely with community members and other local stakeholders to create plans that create appropriate context for new development while respecting the City of Boston's historic character and its future aspirations. The Division aim to create places that are livable, ecologically sensitive, and economically thriving.,

Role at the Agency

Planning at the BPDA is an iterative process which involves community engagement, expert consultants, and the input of experienced BPDA planning and design staff. Resulting plans are comprehensive documents, which articulate broad community goals as well as outline physical development opportunities and guidelines. The BPDA's current planning documents can be viewed on the Planning Initiatives page.

The Planning Division’s work influences many other departments across the BPDA, including Development Review. New planning initiatives may result in zoning changes and the BPDA Zoning department facilitates the codification of these changes into the zoning code. The staff of the Development Review department works with developers to ensure that project proposals fit within these planning frameworks for neighborhood, institutional, or waterfront plans.

Outside the BPDA, Planning works closely with many other departments, including the Neighborhood Development and Transportation departments. The Transportation department, along with the MBTA, may initiate projects which inspire a plan or help to execute transportation improvements which support a neighborhood plan.


Within Planning, five departments collaborate closely. Downtown & Neighborhood Planning works at the neighborhood level and assists communities with articulating and implementing local plans. Institutional Planning works with the City's many academic and medical institutions to develop plans which meet organizational needs to remain a critical regional economic engine while harmonizing with adjacent communities. Climate Change & Environmental Planning promotes the city-wide goal of increasing public access to the waterfront and guides visions for waterfront development. Urban Design's input helps determine appropriate heights, densities, setbacks, building styles, and public spaces to be outlined in plans.


Lauren Shurtleff, Director of Planning and Deputy Director for Downtown & Neighborhood Planning
John (Tad) Read, Senior Deputy Director for Transportation & Infrastructure Planning
James Fitzgerald, Assistant Deputy Director for Transportation & Infrastructure Planning
Michael Cannizzo, Deputy Director for Urban Design
Meera Deean, Assistant Deputy Director for Urban Design
Kennan Rhyne, Interim Deputy Director for Downtown & Neighborhood Planning
Müge Ündemir, Interim Assistant Deputy Director for Downtown & Neighborhood Planning
Bryan Glascock, Deputy Director for Regulatory Planning & Zoning
Richard McGuinness, Deputy Director for Climate Change & Environmental Planning
Chris Busch, Assistant Deputy Director for Climate Change & Environmental Planning

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  • One City Hall Square, Boston, MA 02201
  • Tel: 617.722.4300  Fax: 617.248.1937
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