On August 25, DPD welcomed Ray Gastil as the new Planning Director. Gastil comes to Seattle from New York, where he was most recently Planning Director for Manhattan for the NYC Department of City Planning. Although most of Ray’s professional career has been on the east coast, he has strong ties to Seattle, having grown up here, and has family and friends in the area.
Ray’s planning strengths include urban waterfronts, station areas, and the public realm, areas of particular importance to Seattle today. Some of the planning projects Ray worked on at NYC include West Chelsea/Highline Rezoning, Upper West Side Rezoning, 125th Street Corridor Rezoning, Hudson Yards, East River Waterfront, Lower East Side/East Village Rezoning, Western Rail Yards guidelines, Privately Owned Public Space, and the Manhattanville in West Harlem rezoning associated with Columbia University’s campus plan.
A number of these project included regulatory approaches to encouraging affordable housing, arts, and active retail uses.
Prior to Ray’s tenure as Planning Director for Manhattan, he was executive director of Van Alen Institute: Projects in Public Architecture, where he worked closely with state and city governments, community groups, and universities as well as international organizations to raise the role of planning and design in regenerating New York City and beyond. Among the projects he led there was a design competition for a new TKTS Booth and park in the middle of Times Square, which just opened this fall. Before that, Ray was Director of the Regional Design Program for the Regional Plan Association, where his work focused on growth in rail-served communities in the tri-state area in and around NYC.
Ray has served on numerous boards, juries, and professional organizations; and has taught graduate design studios and seminars at U Penn and Pratt Institute. He is author of numerous articles, essays, and catalogues on planning, urban design, and architecture including, Beyond the Edge: New York’s New Waterfront.
“Coming back to Seattle from New York, I am very fortunate to be moving from one great city to another,” said Ray. “Seattle has a diversity of landscapes, cityscapes, and neighborhoods that make it an inspiring place to live and work. Seattle is well known for its planning work, including its strong climate change focus, and I am very pleased to become part of the department’s and Mayor Nickels’ team. I look forward to contributing to and expanding Seattle’s ongoing initiatives that work to shape change in a way that integrates the mutual goals of urban design excellence and sustainability.”