35 Innovators Under 35: Meet Nolan Lienhart
An urban designer with Zimmer, Gunsul, Frasca Architects (ZGF) in Portland, Nolan Leinhart specializes in mixed-use and transit-oriented development. Serving on the boards of the Bus Project, the Center for Innovative School Facilities and 1000 Friends of Oregon, Leinhart plays an active role in the public and private realm.
A Portland native and Lincoln High School graduate, he fondly recalls the transit trips he took each day to class - a journey that initially sparked his self-proclaimed ‘urban sensibilities.’ After completing a thesis on regional planning and smart growth at Colgate University, Leinhart interned for Congressman Earl Blumenauer before becoming a Legislative Assistant for Blumenauer.
“My portfolio was centered on healthcare policy, but I was able to incorporate walkable communities and livable cities into my work,” he said. “I came to realize that Portland has become a national symbol of leadership in the urban planning debate.”
Leinhart’s next stop was graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of City and Regional Planning. Summer internships with ZGF led to a full-time position with the firm upon graduation.
Leinhart focuses much of his attention on mixed-use, transit-oriented development with high potential for partnerships.
“ZGF has been a great place to show innovation at the project level, offering opportunities to link transit projects and policy,” Leinhart said. “They are very supportive of my role in public life, allowing me to take some leadership in addressing the question, “What is the vision for light rail in Portland in ten years? In thirty years?”
As someone who helps engage the next generation of leaders with the Bus Project, Leinhart is passionate about finding ways for young people to make a difference here in Oregon.
“There is always more room to get involved at the community level - to help shape the city you want to see in the future,” Leinhart said. “We really need to keep our local organizations sharp, to keep pushing forward the image of our progressive, livable state, and to make it easier for others to participate in the process.”