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KNOXVILLE — The public and university community are invited to a special forum to discuss the importance of planning in the city’s future.

The Knoxville Urban Design Forum, Planning, Do We Need It?, will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Knoxville Downtown Studio, 500 S. Gay St.

“Anyone with vested interest in the commercial and residential future of Knoxville should come,” said Mark Schimmenti, interim director of the School of Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and organizer of the planning forum.

Urban planning is essential for a booming metropolitan area like Knoxville, he said, making special mention of the growth in the Market Square area.

“What was going on in Market Square six years ago?,” Schimmenti asked. “Absolutely nothing. Now look at it. It’s bustling with activities — movies, concerts, restaurants. Hundreds of people live, work and play in the downtown and Old City areas. That part of Knoxville would not have been able to evolve as it did without strategic planning, and now it’s the center for entertainment and cultural activities. Market Square reflects how much this city can benefit from careful urban planning.”

Schimmenti, along with John McRae, dean of the College of Architecture and Design, will participate in the forum, paneled by some of East Tennessee’s most prominent planners and developers, including Ed Cole, chief of environment and planning, Tennessee Department of Transportation; Richard Bernhardt, executive director, Metro Planning, Nashville; Don Parnell, principal, Realty Trust Group; Mark Donaldson, executive director, Knoxville/Knox County Planning Commission; and Dan Hawk, American Institute of Certified Planners, State of Tennessee. Wayne Blasius, InSite Development Corp., will moderate.

“Given the stature of the panel members, I expect we’ll have a good turnout,” Schimmenti said.

Mark Schimmenti, (865) 974-3235,
Kristi Hintz, (865) 974-3993,