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Buchanan named planning director



  • Architect Brad Buchanan named Denver’s planning director.
  • Buchanan is currently with RNL.
  • He has been involved with many high profile projects in Denver.


Brad Buchanan

Brad Buchanan

Mayor Michael B. Hancock today announced  he appointed Brad Buchanan as Executive Director for the Department of Community Planning and Development.


In this capacity, Buchanan, who previously headed the volunteer Planning Board, will be responsible for implementing visionary city planning and ensuring safe, responsible, sustainable building throughout Denver.

“Brad brings decades of significant experience in helping Denver build communities,” Hancock said. “His knowledge of the city and its communities is unsurpassed and will inspire smart, sustainable and liveable economic development in our neighborhoods.”

The Department of Community Planning and Development is in charge of managing, planning and building within Denver, including designing and implementing citywide and neighborhood plans, establishing construction and design standards, coordinating revitalization efforts, managing historic preservation and performing code enforcement and education.

“I’ve been training my entire career for this position, and I’m excited to join Mayor Hancock and the dedicated CPD staff when Denver is experiencing such incredible momentum,” Buchanan said.

“With all of the great opportunities in our neighborhoods and parks, as well as at the National Western, DIA, Interstate70, Brighton Boulevard, transit stations and downtown, Denver is simply on a roll,” Buchanan continued.

“I’m honored to have the chance to play a part in what’s next.”

Buchanan will begin his work at the city on March 3.

Buchanan comes from RNL, a design, planning, architecture and interiors services firm in Denver, where he was a Principal and Board Member.

He is a Past Chair of the Denver Planning Board and past Chairman of the Downtown Denver Partnership. Brad was a member of the Downtown Denver Area Plan Steering Committee and the 2027 Committee, charged with the implementation of the Downtown Area Plan.

Buchanan was also a member of the Denver Zoning Task Force that completed the first substantial rewrite of the 1956 Denver Zoning code.

The form and context-based code, one of the first of its kind for a large city, was adopted unanimously by Denver City Council in June of 2010 along with a corresponding revision of the zoning map for the city.

“Brad knows Denver’s planning process with neighborhood and small area plans and how important they are to guiding future development in the city,” said Joel Noble, President of Curtis Park Neighbors.

“It’s reassuring to know that we’ll have an executive director who understands our neighborhood plans and the city planning and zoning process. Brad will be able to hit the ground running.”

Buchanan replaces Rocky Piro, who resigned last week, after about a year on the job.

In recent years, however, Buchanan has faced some controversy. Last year, former Denver City Councilwoman Cathy Donahue filed an ethics complaints against him involving his role at RNL regarding the redevelopment of the former St. Anthony’s Central Hospital site by Sloan’s Lake. RNL was hired to design the master plan of the site by the land developer, EnviroFinance Group. The complaint was dismissed as groundless.

Some neighborhood activists also have criticized him for his role in designing proposed luxury apartment buildings in West Highland, as well as for the master plan at St. Anthony’s,  now called Sloans.

Buchannan is the Founder of Freedom by Design, a nonprofit organization providing design and construction services for the disabled community. Since 1999, Freedom by Design has grown nationwide, completing hundreds of projects each year.

He has presented to more than 10,000 architects, engineers and contractors across the United States and abroad on the role of the architect as a leader in the design and construction process.

Buchannan co-authored the “Design Build Teaming Checklist” and “The Architect’s Guide to Design Build.” He was elevated to Fellowship by the American Institute of Architects in 2005.

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