The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning
Andrea Garfinkel-Castro

Andrea Garfinkel-Castro is a 4th year doctoral student. As a critical researcher, her work has been to consider the relationship between a mainstream planning profession and minority communities, particularly for Latinos. Recognizing that a strong place-based identity cuts across virtually all ethnoracial groups, she asks what it means to be a minority living, working, and playing in places that have been shaped mainly by a group of people who hold vastly different values, beliefs, lifestyles and aesthetics. She began to consider this after experiencing a visceral, negative response to images of New Urbanist developments. Her first thought: this doesn’t represent me. Her second thought: why am I reacting so negatively? She has been exploring place, placemaking, cultural landscapes, and planning culture ever since. She earned a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning at Arizona State University in 2010 with a thesis focusing on the Latino cultural landscape and planners’ attitudes.
Her desire to inform planning policy and community development led her to the U’s MPPD program. She understands that her desire to better understand place, belonging, identity, and tensions between institutional and informal production of space/place are in part a reflection of her life experiences. Forced to drop out of school at age thirteen, she has spent much of her life far from the context in which she truly feels at home and where she belongs: the academic setting. She ‘came home’ to academia in her mid-forties, armed with a sixth grade education and what has seemed an unquenchable desire to learn. With her current research, she sees an opportunity to provide planning practitioners, educators, researchers and theorists with a more comprehensive approach to assessing planning outcomes. By examining outcomes of public realm planning from the ‘inside out,’ or through the lens of planning culture, her dissertation work hopes to provide a means for understanding core underlying, often barely detectable drivers behind US planning. By treating the public realm as an outcome of planning culture, she is implying that the invisible aspects of culture are a strong driver of visible planning action, behavior, and material outcomes.
Her three children are her inspiration, her loving husband her sustenance. She enjoys gardening, the outdoors, and the art, architecture and cuisine of many continents and cultures.