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Planning Lab Benefits from Major Gift

March 11, 2019


At right: Mark and Marianne Barnebey

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning hosted an event, March 11, to honor the benefactors of the department’s multiple award-winning applied planning studio. Once known as the Florida Planning and Development Lab, the unit will now be officially called the Mark and Marianne Barnebey Planning and Development Lab and Studio.

Mark Barnebey is a three-time graduate of FSU (B.S. ‘78 Finance, M.S. ’83 Planning, J.D. ’83). His degree in Urban and Regional Planning has influenced his career in law and as the attorney for the City of Palmetto, Fla. He has practiced land use and local government law for the past 30 years.

He and his wife Marianne, a former Bradenton, Fla., city councilor, both understand the importance of planning in our cities and our lives. They have decided to build a lasting legacy by supporting future generations of students through this naming gift.

The generous gift was formally recognized with a special ceremony in the department’s Bellamy building headquarters. The studio space where dozens of master’s degree students have created numerous award-winning planning projects for real-world clients was given its new title and affectionately dubbed “The Barn.”

The Barnebeys said they gave to help the department strengthen its leadership in sound and practical planning application throughout the Southeastern United States.

“Florida, in particular, is a state of constant change and challenges balancing urban development pressures with property rights of owners,” Mark Barnebey said. “With my service as a local government and development attorney and my wife having served on city council, we understand the importance of having well educated planners to provide sound advice and quality skills in this field. The planning lab provides a direct connection for the university to assist local governments and developers in creating superior plans and planning tools.”

The lab has previously undertaken projects for the cities of Tallahassee, Fla., and Colquitt, Ga.; Pasco County, Fla.; the U.S. Forest Service; the State of Florida’s departments of Transportation and Emergency Management; and several other clients throughout the state and region.

The projects have covered such issues and areas as the future of automated vehicles, urban neighborhood redevelopment, intercity bus systems, sea level rise, park and recreation enhancement and post-disaster housing capacity, among many others.

The student lab, currently under the direction of Planner-in-Residence Dennis Smith, has won numerous honors, including five Outstanding Student Project Awards from the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association.

“The preparation of planning students relies heavily on linking theory with practice,” Smith said. “Planning students need to know how the real world operates: What happens at a county commission meeting, what kind of prep needs to go into creating the backup for an agenda item, how to craft deliverables to support your client’s interests, and even things as mundane as how to balance billable and non-billable work in completing a timesheet.”

Smith said that working on a paid client project subject to budget and schedule constraints is crucial to training for a planning career and helps contribute to the department’s high rate of post-graduation employment.

“With your game-changing gift, we can truly transform the workspace into a facility that better matches the kind of workrooms that exist in large local governments and the private sector,” Smith told the Barnebeys at the ceremony.

"The department’s high-quality work products will also be amplified by the enhanced capabilities made possible by the gift, allowing us not only to keep up with other planning schools but to greatly outpace them with respect to the tools and learning environment we offer our students,” said department Chair Jeff Brown. “In turn, through their efforts, this gift will have a multiplier effect across communities throughout Florida and the nation.”

In dedicating the space, College of Social Sciences and Public Policy Dean Tim Chapin, a professor in the department for the past 20 years, said, “FSU is strengthened by the love and support of alumni and friends like Mark and Marianne."

At left: Dennis Smith; right: The Barnebeys cut the ribbon for the dedication of "The Barn."