Rolf Pendall
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,Professor
Rolf Pendall
111 Temple Buell Hall
611 E Lorado Taft Dr
Champaign, IL 61820
Personal Website:


  • PhD, University of California at Berkeley, City & Regional Planning
  • MSCRP, Community and Regional Planning, The University of Texas at Austin
  • MA, Latin American Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
  • BA, Anthropology and Sociology, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio

Ongoing and upcoming research

I’m currently working on two research projects, both of them exploring land-use regulations: who has them, why they change, and what their effects are.
The first project is national in scope and involves two sub-projects. Both of these are with collaborators from the Urban Institute.

  • In October 2019, we released the National Longitudinal Land Use Survey (NLLUS), a freely downloadable database of responses in 1994, 2003, and 2019 to a survey on local land-use regulations and housing programs in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. I’m now working on publications to analyze the responses; the first iteration (25 metropolitan areas only) was the basis for my 1995 dissertation from U.C. Berkeley.
  • The second sub-project explores the incidence, motivation, and impacts of changes in land-use regulation, using results from NLLUS and the results of a big-data search for articles on land-use change from an archive of hundreds of newspapers. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, we’re exploring why places change their regulations, whether those regulations cause housing markets to change, and how local planners carry out those changes.

For the second project, I’m working with collaborators in the department including Dustin Allred to dig into the recent creation of a skyline in Champaign’s Campustown. In the past 15 years or so, developers have built over a dozen new high-rent residential buildings targeted at students at the threshold of the university. How much of that change resulted from Champaign’s decision a few years ago to relax its zoning? (The city eliminated parking and open space requirements, citing a large surplus of parking and poor performance of the open spaces created in recent development.) If the zoning changes don’t (or only partially) explain the subsequent development, what other explanations are there? Did Urbana face similar pressures? If so, did it resist, why, and how? If not, why not? Since many other campuses have experienced parallel developments of student housing since around 2010, we’re starting a research network about the many causes and consequences of this boom.

Selected Publications:
  • For a complete list of my publications, see my Google Scholar profile. Beyond land-use regulation, my past work ranges across land use change (sprawl) and its impacts, understanding resilience, segregation and concentrated poverty, demographic change, affordable housing programs and policy, and community development. Many of my recent reports and papers are freely available on the Urban Institute website.

Personal profile:
Rolf Pendall, PhD, is Professor and Head of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has over 30 years’ experience as a practitioner, scholar, and educator on a broad array of urban growth and development issues, including land-use planning and regulation; federal, state, and local affordable housing policy and programs; metropolitan growth patterns; and racial residential segregation and the concentration of poverty. Dr. Pendall joined the faculty at the University of Illinois after having served as Center Director, Co-Director, and Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute from 2010 to 2018, and was previously Associate Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. He holds a PhD in City and Regional Planning (1995) from the University of California at Berkeley and an MA in Latin American Studies and an MS in Community and Regional Planning (both 1989) from the University of Texas at Austin.