UDP Urban Designer

Location: Bay Area, CA

Department: Urban Design and Planning

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Experienced

This position involves the organization and leadership of projects that are larger in terms of complexity and scope, and/or leading multiple, smaller project efforts simultaneously. You have broad professional experience and deep industry knowledge of planning principles and practices, and you are able to apply this knowledge to a broad range of project types and tasks. You are able to combine innovative thinking and imaginative problem-solving skills to bring contextual and place-based solutions to your projects. You are able to make decisions and recommendations to guide projects, using your experience and professional judgement to craft the final outcome. As a leader within the studio, providing mentorship, cultivating a positive project experience, and fostering a collaborative environment for your teams and your studio are key elements of your role. As a leader within your studio and the firm, you participate in office-wide initiatives aimed at improving or impacting practices, operations, and/or business development. Your skills and expertise will provide a resource for guidance for other projects and managers in the office.

About SERA      
SERA is a progressive, 100% employee-owned architecture, interior design and urban design & planning firm based in Portland, Oregon. Since 1968, SERA has been instrumental in the development of the city’s national reputation for livability. In 2015, we opened a second office in the Silicon Valley.

We work collaboratively with communities, universities, corporations, and institutions to formulate a sustainable development framework for the social, cultural, economic, and ecological infrastructure that underpins the making of whole and beautiful places.   

Our culture reflects our commitment to great design, client service, and sustainability. SERA provides our employees with an enjoyable work environment and opportunities for professional and personal development. We provide quality service to our clients, while ensuring the growth and well-being of our team. 

Job Title: Urban Designer  - Urban Design / Planning
Supervisor: Studio Leader
FLSA: Exempt

Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Leads project content and creative direction, including graphic content (e.g., plans, diagrams, renderings, maps, etc.), and report layout and text, to advance the creative design/planning direction for the team.
  2. Leads project team meetings with clients/consultants; facilitates and/or presents at public/client meetings.
  3. Demonstrates an open and willing desire for collaborative design throughout the planning and design process, especially with less experienced staff. 
  4. Provides innovative solutions that are sound, founded in deep urban design/planning practices, and consistently align with SERA’s organizational mission, vision, and core values. 
  5. Primary client interface.
  6. Mentors staff on project teams; cultivates a positive project experience and a collaborative team atmosphere. 
  7. Prioritizes goals, scope, and tasks to meet client needs and use teams effectively.
  8. Proactively organizes and executes selected marketing and business development opportunities.
  9. Performs QA/QC for project efforts throughout the studio.
  10. Works with PIC and Studio Leader to identify and leverage core skills and areas of interest for staff, providing opportunities for growth and development.
  11. Works with PIC to manage changes in scope, schedule, and fee throughout the project to ensure project success.
  12. Understands, and adheres to, the project's contract requirements.
  13. Provides strong leadership for the project(s) assigned, as well as demonstrates firm-wide leadership by assisting other project teams and/or initiatives within studio and across the firm.  
  14. Is a resource and mentor to staff within the studio and across the firm. 


  1. Active listener who effectively: leads moderate to large, multi-disciplinary project teams (approximately 3-8 staff); interfaces with client/subconsultants; and organizes project workflows to ensure that creative design direction, scope, schedule, and budget are met.
  2. Develops scopes, schedules, and budgets for project proposals, and assists with the preparation of proposal content. Contributes to overall studio marketing and business development strategies.
  3. Provides constructive feedback to facilitate continuous improvement. 
  4. Proactively communicates staffing needs and changes with Studio Project Coordinator/Studio Leader.
  5. Works with SERA’s Accounting Department regarding project financials, project set-up, and invoicing.
  6. Work with PIC to ensure positive financial performance and manage risk exposure for the firm.  
  7. Plans and communicates project deadlines, phase completion, and staffing needs and changes with the project team(s), Studio Project Coordinator/Studio Leader, and PIC. 
  8. Negotiates critical and controversial issues with clients, consultants, and officers of other organizations and firms.  
  9. Participates in the interview process for hiring new staff and the employee review process for team members.
  10. Keeps abreast of and understands national trends in the planning and design industry and how they apply to SERA culture, practices, and processes, as well as how they impact SERA clients.
  11. Other duties as assigned.

Education and Experience

  • Requires a Bachelor or Master’s degree in planning, urban design, architecture, or landscape architecture.
  • Generally has 8+ years of industry experience in a planning or design office.
  • Experience with Adobe Creative Suite, ArcGIS, and MS Office Suite required.
  • AICP, or other accreditation, is encouraged.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Advanced knowledge of urban planning / urban design best practices that can be applied to projects in collaboration with project team members.
  • Ability to objectively analyze and document critical planning/design elements that serve as the basis for place-based solutions. 
  • Strong group facilitation skills for use at charrettes, community workshops, etc.
  • Advanced ability to communicate through verbal, written, and graphic communication formats.
  • Possesses strong storytelling abilities and is able convey project/process content in compelling and concise ways, both internally at SERA and externally to clients, consultants, etc. 
  • Advanced knowledge of available tools.  
  • Advanced ability to prioritize and evaluate multiple important tasks.
  • Advanced critical thinking skills to identify strengths, weaknesses, or alternate solutions to a problem with limited supervision.
  • Advanced professional judgment and decision-making processes to determine the most appropriate course(s) of action.
  • Advanced skills necessary to resolve conflicts within project teams.
  • Advanced ability to negotiate with and/ or advocate for team members, consultants, clients, jurisdictions for the benefit of SERA and the project.
  • Leadership skills that motivate and guide teams and projects to desired outcomes.
  • Ability to engage and coordinate cross-discipline expertise with other SERA staff, studios, and groups. 
  • Demonstrates an open and willing desire to teach and mentor less experienced planners/designers.
  • Knowledge of Rhino and Revit preferred.
  • Hand sketching skills preferred. 

SERA Architects Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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