A Day In The Life Of A UDA Fellow

Training the Urban Designers of Tomorrow

UDA has been training professionals for a career in Urban Design since the formation of the firm in 1964. Since the inception of a structured fellowship program in 1996, UDA has been lucky to host nearly 100 fellows. The UDA Fellowship Program is a key component of the practice of Urban Design at UDA.

Two-year fellowships at UDA begin with a one-week exercise that provides new fellows with an opportunity to work together and learn UDA techniques for design and production from hand drawing to digital presentation. These skills are applied to a design exercise local to Pittsburgh that may be similar to what one fellow will encounter in practice.

The exercise begins with extensive reconnaissance photography and documentation, followed by conceptual design explorations of urban design alternatives, architectural typologies and styles. During the process, UDA team members provide training in digital programs, digital filing systems, project facilitation, hand drawing, and presentation techniques. The exercise concludes with a final presentation to the entire UDA staff. Following completion of this introductory exercise, two-year fellows join their UDA project team.

First-year Fellow Responsibilities

  • Participate in public processes and charrettes (national and international)
  • Participate in urban design process
  • Prepare urban design reports and documents
  • Analyze and diagram urban areas
  • Research place-making and architectural precedents
  • Communicate with clients
  • Draw illustrative site plans and street sections
  • Model buildings and plans in Sketch Up

Second-year Fellow Responsibilities

  • All first-year fellow responsibilities
  • Coordinate with vendors and clients for base map information, under supervision of the project manager
  • Lead preparation for charrettes
  • Mentor first-year fellows
  • Provide primary support for project manager

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where will I live?
    In the past, most UDA Fellows have chosen to live in the City of Pittsburgh. With many five major universities in the City limits and a high-population of young professionals, there are many neighborhoods with broad choices of affordable alternatives. Many of the neighborhoods are vibrant, active places.
  •  Will I need a car?
    For working at UDA, you will not need a car. For daily life, many neighborhoods in the City allow you to live without needing a car, utilizing transit, bikeshare, or foot. Many UDA Fellows have not owned a car.
  • How will I get to work?
    Pittsburgh is a city that was built on transit, with a majority of the downtown commuters taking transit, biking or walking. Most all UDA employees do the same. The UDA office does not have a bike storage facility, but we support biking to work with memberships to local gyms within steps of the UDA office that provide bike parking and shower facilities. Depending on your location in the City or first-ring suburbs, transit commute times can vary between 15-45 minutes door-to-door.
  • Who will I work with?
    UDA has three project teams, two urban design, and one architecture team.  Each team is led by Project Manager and a Senior Designer and staffed with two Fellows, a Second-Year Fellow, and a First-Year Fellow.
  • What kinds of things will I be learning and working on?
    Fellows will have an opportunity to learn the broad concerns that face the practice of Urban Design. UDA Fellows will be exposed to a wide variety of work in their first and second year. This will include meeting clients, consultants, constituents, users, stakeholders, and residents face-to-face. UDA works with public and private clients, institutions and non-profits. This provides the opportunity to learn about wide variety of issues that effect development of new, and the revitalization of existing cities. UDA teams work a wide variety of scales including the planning and expansion of large cities to the scale of an eave at a street corner. 
  • Who will I work with?
    Fellows will work collaboratively with the Principal-in-Charge of a project and with project team members. Projects vary in scale with some projects requiring the entire team or select team members. The Project Manager manages the team, and initially, the Second-Year Fellow will provide direction to the First-year Fellow on a day-to-day basis. At times, Second-Year Fellows have led projects and interacted directly with clients.
  • How often will I travel?
    Typically, it averages about one trip per month. Trips last approximately 3-5 days, depending on the task and the complexity.  
  •  Where will I travel?
    Typically, our travel is domestic. However, UDA Fellows have traveled all over the world in the past, including Russia, India, the UK, and Canada.