Jim Chappell is an urban planner whose forty-year career focused on intertwining environmental conservation into urban design. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Syracuse and Masters in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Chappell began his work in urban design and regional ecological planning in Denver during the early 1970s before relocating to San Francisco in 1978. After a three-year stint with the Bechtel Corporation, Chappell began to work exclusively with a host of nonprofit organizations such as the Environmental Design Foundation and, most notably, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), which he joined in 1980. Chappell took over the directorship of SPUR in 1994, and over the next twenty-five years helped steer the organization back to prominence and a more secure foundation. Under Chappell, SPUR addressed of host of planning-related issues in the San Francisco Bay Area, from waterfront development and the construction of Giants Stadium to new transportation and housing projects. Among Chappell’s many achievements is the creation of SPUR’s Urban Center in San Francisco. In this interview, Chappell discusses the many facets of urban design and ecological planning that SPUR addressed on many key issues and projects during his twenty-five year tenure. The interview also documents Chappell’s successful efforts to revitalize this important nonprofit agency that has served the San Francisco Bay Area for over a century.




Download Full History