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Employee Spotlight: Michael Curtis, AICP

By April 27, 2018Staff Activity

For over ten years, Planning NEXT has been fortunate to have Michael Curtis, a talented planner and a gifted designer, on the team. Anyone who has worked with Michael can attest that he is master at simplifying the complex, making planning concepts easy to understand, and keeping clients happy by coordinating and creating planning documents that work. In addition to tending to his backyard flock of chickens and ambitious garden at his Clintonville home or leading his son’s scouting group, Michael is focused on developing his skills in web mapping and photography—two unique strengths seen in Michael’s projects.

Helping Communities Realize Their Potential. Michael has a reputation of creating plans that are both visionary and implementable with a strong focus on quality-of-place. Karen Smith, Planner for the City of Decatur, and client for one of Michael’s recent projects, One Decatur, attests “I think we were extremely fortunate in our selected consultant. Planning Next was a joy to work with and helped our community develop a plan to grow by. We hope to have a continuing relationship.” Michael’s work focuses on helping communities see beyond what they currently are and realize their full potential. Even after the plan is complete, he maintains client relationships, and some communities become repeat clients. For example, Michael has a long-standing relationship with the City of Mobile; following his work on the Map for Mobile comprehensive plan, he helped to implement that plan by creating a guide for neighborhood-level planning. He is currently helping Mobile’s planning staff think through how to improve communication with the public, and share progress about the city’s plans through their websites.

Creating Quality Places. Michael’s passion for creating quality places was sparked by his experiences as a high school student living in London. Never having to drive, only walking and riding the bus or train, Michael developed an interest in physical planning. Since moving back to the States, Michael has worked to make communities more pedestrian-friendly. Michael’s interest in planning for walkable places can be seen in GroveCity2050 and the Land Use and Character Plan for the City of Anniston, Alabama.

Focusing on Design. Michael is passionate about helping planners improve the way they communicate ideas to the public. When not providing technical expertise to our planning efforts, Michael contributes to print and interactive graphic design as part of public engagement campaigns, as well as works on marketing and advertising for the firm. This work is integrated throughout the planning process, starting with the creation of project logos, developing a coherent graphic identity that is used throughout the process, and ensuring that all products are of the highest quality in presentation. Through design, he makes planning more approachable, so citizens can make more informed choices for their communities. Michael continues share his design knowledge with others at Planning NEXT and has previously taught Graphic Visualization for Planners, at OSU’s Knowlton School of Architecture.

Michael’s Key Projects

Michael’s talents are highlighted in his recent projects:

  • OneDecatur, comprehensive plan for the City of Decatur, Alabama;
  • Mobile Neighborhood Toolkit, neighborhood planning guide for the City of Mobile, Alabama;
  • GroveCity2050, community plan for the City of Grove City, Ohio;
  •, an interactive zoning webpage for the City of Anniston, Alabama;
  • Horizons2040, the land use component of Greenville, North Carolina’s comprehensive plan; and
  • Plan Columbia, project branding and graphic design for the Columbia South Carolina’s land use plan.