Community Involvement Through Urban Planning

For Amirah Lane, ’10, a passion for historic preservation led her to a career in urban planning in Alexandria, Va.

Lane discovered her interest in urban planning and historic preservation at Meredith when she took Housing Issues, a class required for interior design students.

“The class discussed the ethical and social issues that come up in relation to housing and architecture, such as homelessness, gentrification, housing discrimination, and affordability,” Lane said. “It really opened my eyes. We take the security that having a home provides for granted.”

Lane’s senior project at Meredith involved designing a townhouse that could house multiple generations comfortably, allowing individual family members space while still fostering a family environment.

“One thing I really enjoy about this field is that there are so many ways to make a difference,” Lane said.

Urban planning involves the designing of urban spaces and has different concentrations on city, local, regional, and environmental levels.

A typical work week for Lane, who is an urban planner in the Department of Planning & Zoning for the City of Alexandria, includes writing reports, staffing the Board of Architectural Review public hearings, reviewing and approving building plans, researching historic properties, and meeting with architects and other design professionals.

“Working with the public, you deal with a lot of different personalities, and I’ve developed strong customer service skills and patience,” Lane said. “I’m one of the main people in my division and am often the first person people speak to, so I set the tone for those interactions.”

In her professional life, Lane has found herself leaning on the leadership skills she built at Meredith in classes and as class senator, resident assistant, and SGA vice president. “The faculty at Meredith supported me and gave me the chance to hone my leadership skills. They made me comfortable being assertive, which is an important skill for women.”

Melyssa Allen

News Director
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(919) 760-8087
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