It’s about more than the buildings. It’s about the place. Urban design can fundamentally change the center of gravity in a city, providing a long-term vision and strategy for growth. It’s a combination of seeking, exploring, understanding, imagining and crafting.

In order to understand a city – really understand it – we start by asking questions. We ask about the values and the places, community sentiment and opportunities. We observe and analyze, looking to the authenticity that already exists to uncover the spirit of place. We find the answers to the biggest, most important questions in most cities are right there waiting to be uncovered the existing urban fabric. 

Our technical expertise and proven ability to manage complex groups involved – including planning, zoning, financial entities, civic organizations, local government and more – allows us to seamlessly address the constraints and focus on the unique challenges of each city, shifting the community dialogue to what that district, city or campus can become. Understanding these technicalities gives us the freedom of creativity Communities have changed from our planners’ ideas around powerful placemaking for long-term growth. In cities across the globe like London, Sydney, Brisbane, Denver and Pittsburgh, Populous’ urban designers have used their unique process and technical expertise to uncover a community’s assets and connect them for an experience that can bring positive change to the fabric of the city.


London 2012 Masterplan

London 2012 has fast-tracked years of urban regeneration into just a decade: an industrial wasteland has been transformed into a new urban park; the lives of the local community will be radically improved through the provision of new housing, schools, shops, sports facilities and employment. And of course the Games themselves, thanks to meticulous planning, should be remembered as uniquely spectacular.

Melbourne Olympic Park Masterplan

CHALLENGE. Populous was commissioned (with a local architect) to develop and reinvigorate the existing Melbourne Park with a vision for the Australian Open to 2030. The Victorian Government wanted to maintain Melbourne as Australia’s premier sporting city and, beyond that, as one of the world’s leading event cities, so the masterplan had to take account of the changing demands of hosting major sporting events, as well as provide more comfortable climatic conditions for players and spectators.

INNOVATION. Large, shaded public squares will provide entertainment zones for spectators, as well as much-needed shelter and shade as they move between venues. For the players, moving roofs and other environmental control systems around the courts will temper the climate and make it more suitable for play. A new court ladder will define circulation routes, organising the landscape into an enjoyable, easy to navigate space.

IMPACT. By providing a new 16,000 seat centre court, new media facilities and a National Tennis Academy, the masterplan has ensured that the Complex will retain its position as a host for Grand Slam Tennis. More broadly, it positions the state of Victoria and the city of Melbourne as global sports leaders.

Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games Masterplan

CHALLENGE. For the 10th China National Games in October 2005, Populous designed and built the Nanjing Sports Park in Jiangsu Province, one of the largest athletic venue projects ever completed in Asia. Revisiting the city to create a masterplan for the Youth Olympic Games offers a fascinating opportunity to build on that previous relationship and see how the existing buildings can be knitted into a new structure. Without the need to create major stadia or other sporting buildings, Nanjing throws up a one-off canvas against which to plan a new piece of city.

INNOVATION. The Olympic City in Nanjing will be the start of the development of the southern part of the Hexi district – the structures and facilities required for the Youth Olympic Games form part of this larger vision for the city as a whole. Thus, unusually, legacy comes first: we’re trying to create a living, thriving city – a city that for 2 weeks in 2014 will host an Olympic event.

IMPACT. Our masterplan will create a new piece of city along the waterfront. The mixed use development, which includes schools and exhibition centres alongside Olympic venues and athletes’ accommodation, will make it a destination venue, giving the vibrant city of Nanjing a new hub, as well as the capacity to act as host to a major event.