Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Florida Center for Innovative Communities

Innovative Through Research

The Center assembles interdisciplinary teams and studios to undertake research and make recommendations on community issues such as urban design and redevelopment, conservation planning and design, cultural planning, and the transformation of government. Drawing researchers from faculty and students, we use a variety of qualitative and mixed methods, and develop custom analytical tools for each client, for example demographic projections or community livability indicators. Our projects often require field research, for example face-to-face interviews and focus groups to assess public opinion, or point-of-service surveys. Large-scale community projects can require site analysis.

Innovative Through Participation

The Center uses a variety of strategies to assist communities in building participation. We help organize and facilitate community charrettes, and can facilitate community-led development of new plans, elements, and codes. As a University of Florida center, we have access to some of the most innovative technology in the world, and can offer digital solutions to age-old problems of community engagement and participation.

Innovative Through Technical Assistance

We consult with stakeholders at all levels, sometimes by providing basic tools for situation analysis, and in other cases creating custom community-building ‘toolkits’. Even the simplest local planning issues can become complicated over time, and even politically divisive if they are misunderstood. An interdisciplinary ‘evidence-based’ approach can be used to separate fact from assumption, and model new possibilities. The Center assembles interdisciplinary teams from across campus to unravel legal issues for example, or the science behind basic planning decisions.

Recent Center Projects

  • Neighborhoods As Community Assets: The Porters Community, Gainesville, Florida (2017-18)
  • Cultural Planning: Creative By Nature
  • Community-focused redevelopment: Greening Green Cove Springs
  • Conservation neighborhood design and planning: Conservation Design and Planning Studio
  • Transformation of government: Trust, Engagement and Transformation in Hillsborough County

Center Director

Kathryn Frank, PhD

Dr. Frank is an associate professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. She specializes in collaborative and adaptive planning processes for watershed management, regional sustainability, community development, and rural stewardship. Recent research projects include conducting neighborhood planning for empowerment, sea level rise adaptation planning in Florida, evaluating collaborative planning for Everglades restoration, and identifying state policies that influence regional transportation planning.

Dr. Frank formerly worked as a consultant, and as an environmental engineer for a large manufacturing company. She received a doctorate in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech in Atlanta and a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon. Her undergraduate majors were chemical engineering and mathematics.

Research Affiliate

Laura Dedenbach, PhD, AICP

Dr. Dedenbach is a post-doctoral researcher for the Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience (FIBER). She has extensive experience as a professional planning consultant who has specialized in local government planning services for small and rural communities, as well as providing expert witness planning services to a variety of clients throughout Florida. Dr. Dedenbach’s areas of expertise are neighborhood planning, small towns and rural planning, comprehensive planning, civic engagement, issues of land use and compatibility, crime prevention through environmental design, and planning-related First Amendment/RLUIPA issues.