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Planner Profile: Jay Renkens, AICP

Jay Renkens, AICP

Planner

MIG, Inc.

 

Tells us a little about yourself professionally.

I’m a planning and urban design leader for MIG’s national practices in comprehensive plans, downtowns, transit-oriented development, streetscapes, land use, and higher education. I also lead the Denver office where we provide planning, landscape architecture and engineering services to the Denver metropolitan area and Colorado. We strive to integrate equity into planning and design and to address the unintended consequences of gentrification such as displacement and the potential loss of culture and authenticity.

Tell us how you got into planning.

While researching health and motivational theory while completing a Masters in Health Psychology, I was struck by the significant influence that the environment has on people's choices and behavior, and I have sought to shape environments for the better ever since. Although my original studies are behind me, they still form the lens I use in taking a holistic approach to optimizing social, economic, and physical wellness for individuals, families, neighborhoods and entire communities.

Tell us a little about yourself outside of planning.

I love to travel and check out new cities and towns all around the country and around the world. Food, music, culture, urban form and everything else that makes places unique. I grew up in Wisconsin so I can’t help but root for the Packers, Brewers and Bucks. I am also an avid cyclist and cycling fan. I don’t race anymore, but still love anything related to road cycling. For years, I read nothing but non-fiction with a lot of biographies in the rotation. I recently picked up a science fiction book for the first time since my teenage years and just can’t get enough.

Who is your planning hero or role model?

I know that this is probably a boring answer, but I would have to say Jane Jacobs. The Death and Life of Great American Cities and the Cities and the Wealth of Nations were two of the first planning related books I ever read. They were also some of the best and most influential. I pick them up at least once every year to brush up on Jane’s timeless wisdom.

What makes planning special/interesting/difficult/fun in Colorado?

Planning in Colorado is interesting because our state is so special. The varying topography, climates, political leanings, and community culture make everyday of working in Colorado different than the last. With the popularity of many of our communities since the recession, it is an interesting challenge to leverage growth to make our communities better while not losing what made them great in the first place.

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