Urban Designer

San Francisco, CA


As an experienced urban designer, you have a passion for preparing a wide range of planning documents while engaging with the communities they affect, collaborating with the agencies that implement them, and working with an interdisciplinary team of experts. You enjoy design discourse to share ideas, critiquing design concepts by others, and offering alternative approaches. Quickly sketching out or demonstrating design ideas and concepts is second nature to you. You have a comprehensive understanding of the various systems that make a city or community thrive, have the ability to analyze and digest complex urban issues that span multiple disciplines, and suggest clear and practical design approaches and solutions. You have expertise in updating zoning and development standards to facilitate mixed-use development and infill, and you know how to develop graphic, user-friendly documents. You have a strong interest in solving today's housing and climate challenges. You have the knowledge and tools to deliver a successful work product and understand how to set up the project workflow, engage the client and stakeholders, and lead a team of experts in order to get there. You confidently participate in highly technical discussions regarding planning and urban design-related topics such as building and open space typologies, development densities and intensities, transit/mobility/ transportation, utilities and infrastructure, development phasing, agency approval/permit processes, and environmental review processes. You are able to work independently on assignments and exercise judgment when needed, but also know how to be a team player with strong visual, written, and verbal communication skills to get things done. 


  • COLLABORATE with other planners and design professionals on projects throughout the state
  • LEAD or contribute to the preparation of a large-scale master plan, specific plan, zoning update, or objective design standards
  • DEVELOP an engagement strategy, and facilitate a community outreach meeting
  • CREATE graphically rich design and planning documents using InDesign and PowerPoint
  • PRODUCE 2D and 3D plans and graphics, including site analysis, site plans, and concept diagrams
  • PREPARE existing conditions analysis, scale comparisons, and precedent research
  • RESEARCH and analyze zoning codes, general plans, specific plans, and other regulations guiding urban form
  • CONDUCT project site visits and collect site/precedent photography 
  • PREPARE a proposal or attend an interview with a public agency for a planning-related project
  • ATTEND a local conference and present on a topic of interest
  • ENJOY social and community service events and the camaraderie of being and Ascentian



  • Over 6 years of experience working on planning and urban design efforts, such as master plans, specific plans, corridor plans, objective design standards, and zoning for architecture, planning, and/or urban design firm in California.
  • An advanced degree in urban design or planning (MAUD, MLAUD, MUP) and an undergraduate degree in architecture or landscape architecture (BArch, BLA) or a similar combination.
  • Excellent presentation skills, including strong design and graphic communication skills.
  • Advanced graphic, drawing, and 3D modeling/rendering abilities, with demonstrated proficiency in AutoCAD, SketchUp (or similar 3D modeling tools), ArcGIS, Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign), and PowerPoint. Advanced knowledge of Lumion or other rendering platforms is preferred.
  • Ability to communicate zoning and objective design standards using simple diagrams and 3d graphics, as well as develop visual simulations is desired.
  • Knowledge of current planning and development law as practiced in California. Knowledge of housing legislation and CEQA is a plus.
  • Collaborative attitude, ability to think outside of the box and develop creative solutions, and interest in being part of the fast-paced design studio
  • AICP credentials and active membership in a professional organization are preferred (APA, ASLA, AIA, ULI, etc.).

Ascent offers a supportive, fun, and intellectually challenging work environment with excellent benefits. We invest in our employees’ careers and welfare and strive to provide high-quality outcomes for our clients. We offer flexible hours, collegial teamwork, participation in important and challenging projects, opportunities to contribute to and join in-service events for our local communities, and regular performance recognition.

Ascent provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment regardless of race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local laws and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training. 

Please note that this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties, or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice.  

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