Esswein, Carolyn

(414) 229-6165
Arch & Urban Planning 257


Carolyn Esswein is an urban designer, planner and educator who has worked with over 30 communities in the Midwest. Her work with communities and developers has helped to change the character of cities from Oak Creek’s Drexel Square, New Berlin’s City Center, to Milwaukee’s Lindsay’s Heights home ownership initiative. Her primary role for 20 years was in consulting, Carolyn now brings her experience to UWM as Professor of Practice, coordinates the Masters of Architecture/Masters of Urban Planning joint degree program, and is Director of Community Design Solutions. Carolyn’s urban design studios and graduate urban planning courses promote innovative redevelopment strategies for large impact Milwaukee sites, as well as individual neighborhoods. Many of the studio and capstone projects have influenced design, development, and policy decisions for their clients. WUWM Radio Show.

Community Design Solutions (CDS) is a design center at SARUP that assists communities, agencies, civic groups, and campuses throughout Wisconsin. Students work with clients and faculty to develop design and planning concepts to promote positive change, stimulate funding opportunities, form partnerships, and serve as a catalyst for continued investment.

Carolyn continues to practice as owner of Ce Planning Studio, LLC, a firm that adds value through design visioning, public engagement, and community investment. Implemented projects include neighborhood planning, urban design, development guidelines and codes, public participation, economic development, online zoning, and sustainable urbanism. She has received numerous state and regional awards for her work including the WCREW SPIRE Award for her impact on real estate and development in Wisconsin and Community Based Faculty of the Year from UWM. Carolyn has a Bachelor of Science degree from UW-Madison, Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Planning degrees from UW-Milwaukee. She serves on the Executive Board for Congress for New Urbanism-WI, Harbor District, and previously served 11 years on the Exec Board for the WI American Planning Association.

Previously Carolyn was a Principal and part owner with Planning and Design Institute, Inc. and an Associate with GRAEF.

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Registrations and Memberships

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)
Congress for New Urbanism – Accredited (CNU-A)
Executive Board Member – American Planning Association, Wisconsin Chapter
Executive Board Member – Congress for New Urbanism, Wisconsin Chapter


Master of Architecture, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, 1994
Master of Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, 1994
Bachelor of Science, University of Wisconsin- Madison, 1990

Research Focus

Urban Design and Community Development
Sustainable Development Practices
Public Engagement


ARCH 749 /URBPLAN 857– Urban Design as Public Policy
ARCH 340/URBPLAN 751 – Introduction to Urban Design and Physical Planning
ARCH 645/845 – Urban Design Studio
URBPLAN 811 – Applied Planning Workshop, graduate capstone course
URBPLAN 858/992 – Urban Design Community Redevelopment Studio
URBPLAN 880 – Urban Sustainability

External Link

Selected Work

Community Design and Development Charettes, 6 completed, Milwaukee
New Berlin City Center Redevelopment, $40 million added value
West Allis Six Point Redevelopment, $50 million added value
Racine Regency Mall Redevelopment Vision
Port Washington Downtown Revisioning
Drexel Town Square Development Plan, Oak Creek
Village of Fontana Porter Court Plaza, Mixed-Use Development, Highway Beautification,
Lakefront Development Plan, $10 million added value
East Side BID Market Study and Redevelopment Plan, Milwaukee
Lindsay Heights Revitalization, $70 million in new housing, Milwaukee
Central District Master Plan, Shorewood
Home Gr/Own 20 Vacant Parcels to Parks, Milwaukee
Fond du Lac and North Neighborhood Plan, Milwaukee
Greater Galilee Baptist Church Adult & Child Daycare, Milwaukee
Villard Agricultural Hub, Milwaukee
Lauderdale Lakes Community Center
Villard Street Library Mixed-Use Development, Milwaukee
Urban Land Institute Hines Student Competition Finalist, 2015 – Faculty Advisor
West Allis Comprehensive Plan, 35 Redevelopment Site Scenarios
New Berlin Comprehensive Plan, Park & Recreation Plan
Gap Analysis/Retail Leakage, Sheboygan and Grafton
Public/Private Cost Benefit Analysis - Milwaukee Mile Proposal, West Allis

Oak Creek Drexel Square
OakCreek puzzle play
Shorewood Central District
Villard Library Housing
West Allis Mile