The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning
Tyler Torress

Name: Tyler Torres
Undergraduate Major: International Studies, Economics, Turkish
Hometown: More or less, SLC, Utah

How did you discover urban planning?
I’ve wanted to find a broadly applicable field that synthesizes the different technical and social fields and addresses the challenges of the modern world, and I’ve always had a pretty idealistic (albeit tempered) outlook for our future. With this in mind, by chance I visited the urban planning museum in Shanghai while traveling and was impressed by the size and scale underpinning that megacity. This visit, alongside urban theory books and the privilege of broad travels, ignited a prolonged “Aha!” moment, and highlighted cities as the nexus point of our many challenges and therefore, where our collective choices are likely to have the proportionally largest impact.

Why did you choose the MCMP program at U of Utah?
Salt Lake City is on the brink of major changes and has the spacious opportunity to benefit from prudent, trendsetting urban policy choices that will affect us for generations. I believe the region is a bit of a pressure cooker that could catalyze urban policies in the US. Nationwide and worldwide problems will be intensified here in the coming years, due to our numerous acute and long-standing issues, ranging from demographic and cultural change, to major strains on our environment and transportation system. Essentially, we are a city subject to the same structures that have beset most American cities, yet these are magnified by our geography and impending changes, most visibly seen through the beloved atmospheric inversion. These challenges all point towards this place as being a sort of proving ground for new ideas, and therefore in a sort of golden age for study. Beyond that, this is a city I know, at minimum through anecdote and personal experience, and have a deep connection with. Salt Lake is where I grew up, and I have a strong vested interest in seeing this valley grow according to the needs and health of its people and natural environment. And frankly, considering the rate of change, I’d like to play some positive impact here.

If you have work experience or have completed an internship, tell us about that experience.
My most pertinent experience is working for a political think tank in Ankara, Turkey. It was there I learned some of the more important human lessons about politics and policy, i.e the unavoidable frictions, anxieties, prejudice, and emotions that span across individuals and society and influence all levels of project conversation and implementation. It helped me understand the foundation one needs to work in a highly charged environment, in this case, specifically the environment created through ethnic and political strife during the collapse of a ceasefire process. I think this will carry over well into the realm of urban policy, especially once ideas become public facing and incrementally involve a greater number of stakeholders.

 What are your career goals?
I think career goals may be hard to define beyond the immediate post-graduate future, but initially I see myself working locally in SLC and partaking in agency efforts to help make space for necessary changes to our urban shape. Beyond that, I could see myself sticking around in Utah or other major American cities, likely wherever I think it might be most interesting to live or work. But, as my inclination is always international, a major personal accomplishment would be to become involved in international projects in some of the more dynamically growing regions of the world, or to spend professional time in the more well-established centers of urban thought and practice.

 Tell us one thing most people do not know about you.
I am a big dumpling enthusiast. Dumplings are amazing. Most cultures have some version of them, and nothing on earth is better at 6 am than a few racks of steaming baozi. I love them enough that I have a dumpling tattoo. I wholeheartedly believe SLC is in dire need of a late-night dumpling bike-thru, innovative urban form at its best.