Restoration Urbanism

What is Restoration Urbanism?

Restoration Urbanism is grounded in 30 years of research by Mindy Fullilove, MD and the Cities Research Group. The foundation of our approach is that policies and planning trends promoting segregation and inequality have left cities fractured physically and socially.  Restoration Urbanism teaches us the importance of reweaving the social fabric and reconnecting the physical spaces as we fight for equity.

At UofO, we practice and teach Restoration Urbanism by building broad coalitions, carrying out popular education to deepen our understanding of the dynamic situation in which we ourselves, and supporting morale through difficult times, especially using the arts and music.

We use Dr. Fullilove’s Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted Out Cities as a guiding text, host urbanists-in-residence and take on community planning projects as part of our course work.

UofO Urbanism Team

Our urbanism team is an international and interdisciplinary think-tank that leads our Restoration Urbanism work. We host three annual urbanism events (Jan Term, Placemaking, and Oct Term), provide consultation on community planning projects around the country, and participate in and support Orange’s Planning to Stay Coalition.

Jan Term

University of Orange’s Jan Term sessions are condensed urbanism programs. Each of our Jan. Term programs includes a field trip, a seminar and workshop presented by a visiting urbanist, and an opportunity to volunteer.  We believe the combination of these three types of activities puts into action our ideas about an engaged and joyful urbanism.  Participating in these programs will earn you a University of Orange Urbanism Certificate and help you check off a couple graduation requirements for the year.


Our first event was held in 2009 and at the time we called it a ‘Placemaking Conference.’ We had the goal of engaging people in creating a plan for the area we called ‘the Heart of Orange.’ We were joined by two of our favorite urbanists, Michel Cantal Dupart and Kiara Nagel.  We wanted everyone to have a voice in the future of their city.  We walked the neighborhood with maps and disposable cameras.  We surveyed, we charted, we drew what we saw and what we wanted to see, we ate from local businesses.  We used all the information we collected to inform our plan. 

The following spring we realized that a plan should not live on a shelf. Assessing what is around us and asking: what could be? is our ongoing work.  We held a second Placemaking event to start making the city we want to see.  That year we were joined by colleagues from the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Terri Baltimore, Denys Candy and Rich Brown.  We painted train underpasses, learned about rights for day laborers, decorated overpasses and studied the train station.  Our ongoing tradition of spring Placemaking events has taken many forms.  We have hosted benchmaking contests, storytelling walks and tree plantings.  What connects these events is that we take the time to study our current conditions while also dreaming of a bright future and making the world we want to see by small acts.  

Oct Term

University of Orange is committed to recording and sharing people’s stories about Orange, NJ. Place-based storytelling is a useful way to start and inform conversations about the communities in which we live. Sharing our stories helps us plan for the future collectively. By exploring what has been we expand the realm of what can be.

Our multidisciplinary team deploys a variety of methods to record and share stories including walking tours, interviews, participatory action research, “reverse archaeology” and more. We collect and tell stories of the city in free classes, workshops, street side lemonade stands, ESL courses, scavenger hunts and more.

In October 2021, we are launching Oct Term, a 6-week annual program devoted to recording and sharing stories of people and place. During Oct Term we will contribute to our story archive The Hidden Treasures of Orange.

Urbanism Consultation

University of Orange serves as a consultant to projects that link equity to the built environment.  In addition to our work in Orange, NJ, our team has consulted in many places including Philadelphia, PA, Niagara Falls, NY and Detroit, MI. The UofO Urbanism team pairs a research-based approach with place-based community engagement. Click here for more information about UofO Urbanism Consultancy.

Planning to Stay Coalition

“Planning to Stay” is a broad, resident-led coalition organizing residents and other stakeholders in Orange, NJ to increase civic engagement and to develop a strategy to move forward a shared vision of the city’s future – as a place where we can Plan to Stay. Planning to Stay started as a conversation between the University of Orange and The HUUB in response to the city’s master plan and subsequent neighborhood redevelopment plans.

The plans outline sweeping changes to the city’s main street and other neighborhoods, calling for high-rise, luxury housing development and bix box stores, which would upend the historic identity of the city and threaten to displace residents and small businesses. Having watched and participated in many of the city’s planning processes, we know that many of Orange’s diverse communities were not at the table and their voices are not included in the final products.

Past projects:

UofO Urbanism Department Course Listings for Fall 2015

 A Just and Safe Orange: Improving Police & Community Relations

Jan Term 4: Popular Education & the Just City focused on Popular Education, understanding Red-lining and culminated with a panel at the Queens Museum titled “Reviewing Renewal: From Red-Lining to Gentrification”

This summer we collected 30 stories in 30 days to celebrate the history of Our Orange

We worked with a group of middle school students at the Orange Scholars Academy to create a book of stories about Orange, which will be used as part of a third grade curriculum in Orange

This year the University of Orange partnered in the planning and launch of the inaugural Youth Urbanism Summit: Our Future City

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