Urban Designer

Location: Oakland, CA

Department: Urban Design & Planning

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Experienced

This position involves the organization and leadership of projects that are moderate in terms of complexity and scope. You have a diverse knowledge of planning principles and practices, and 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 will be able to guide projects, using your experience and professional judgement to craft the final outcome. As a leader within the Urban Design and Planning 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. You will be able to influence exciting projects across a wide variety of types and clients.

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
Supervisor: Studio Leader
FLSA: Exempt

Duties and Responsibilities


  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. Leads project content and creative direction, including graphic content (e.g., plans, diagrams, renderings, maps), and report layout and text.
  3. Leads project team meetings with clients/consultants; facilitates and/or presents at public/client meetings.
  4. Mentors staff on project teams, and cultivates a positive project experience and a collaborative team atmosphere.
  5. Prioritizes goals, scope, and tasks to meet client needs and use teams effectively.
  6. Proactively communicates staffing needs and changes with Studio Project Coordinator/Studio Leader.
  7. Works with PIC and Studio Leader to identify and leverage core skills and areas of interest for staff, providing opportunities for growth and development.
  8. Works with PIC to manage changes in scope, schedule, and fee throughout the project to ensure project success.
  9. Understands, and adheres to, the project's contract requirements.
  10. Plans and communicates project deadlines, phase completion, and staffing needs/changes with the project team(s), Studio Project Coordinator/Studio Leader, and PIC.


  1. Demonstrates an open and willing desire for collaborative design throughout the planning and design process, especially with less experienced staff.
  2. Is frequently the primary client interface.
  3. Provides constructive feedback to facilitate continuous improvement.
  4. Keeps abreast of and understands national trends in the urban design and planning industry and how they apply to SERA culture, practices, and processes.
  5. 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.
  6. Participates in the interview process for hiring new staff and the employee review process for team members.
  7. Working with SERA’s Accounting Department regarding project financials, project set-up, and invoicing.
  8. 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

  • Strong 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.
  • Excellent oral communication and interpersonal skills to explain plans and concepts clearly to stakeholders, clients, community groups, technical review committees, public and elected officials, etc.
  • Written and graphic communication skills to clearly and succinctly explain urban design plans and concepts to a range of audiences.
  • Possesses group facilitation skills for use at Charrettes, community workshops, etc.
  • Knowledge of available tools.  
  • Ability to prioritize and evaluate multiple important tasks.
  • Ability to work independently or in a team environment as needed.
  • Ability to attend to details while keeping big-picture goals in mind.
  • Ability to manage projects effectively and meet firm deadlines.
  • Critical thinking skills to identify strengths, weaknesses, or alternate solutions to a problem with limited supervision.
  • Professional judgment and decision making processes to determine the most appropriate course of action.
  • 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 young planners/designers.
  • Knowledge of Rhino and Revit preferred.
  • Hand sketching skills preferred.

SERA Architects Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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