BFJ Planning affects the daily flow of life in cities and towns both in the Northeast United States and much farther afield. The firm, which celebrated its 25th anniversary as an affiliate of Perkins Eastman in 2023, is a multidisciplinary practice with expertise in planning and zoning, urban design, environmental planning, real estate consulting, transportation planning, and sustainability and resiliency.

The New York City-based firm was founded in 1980 by Principal Paul Buckhurst (now retired) and Principal Frank Fish and is officially known as Buckhurst, Fish & Jacquemart; Principal Georges Jacquemart, who was recently named a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, became a partner in 1991. BFJ places great emphasis on collaboration both internally among its staff members and externally with its clients in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The firm is also supported by its affiliate Urbanomics, Inc., a consultancy led by Principal Tina Lund that has provided economic development planning studies, market studies, tax policy analyses, program evaluations, and economic and demographic forecasts since 1984.

Perkins Eastman’s Co-Founder and Chairman Brad Perkins says, “BFJ’s joining with us was really a reuniting of old colleagues. Mary-Jean Eastman (co-founder and vice chair) and I had worked with Paul Buckhurst and Frank Fish when we were all at the British firm Llewelyn Davies. Our practice has always been built on our ability to act as an advisor to our clients from the earliest stages of their projects. BFJ brought us a number of important, complementary skill sets that greatly strengthened our pre-design services.”

An infill concept for Melville, NY, weaves a mixed-use town center into an existing neighborhood. Rendering © BFJ Planning

BFJ Planning

Founded: 1980

Joined Perkins Eastman: 1998

Staff: 19

Practitioners: architects, economists, environmental planners, fiscal analysts, land-use planners, planners, project managers, transportation planners, urban designers

Completed Projects: 1,000-plus

Recent Awards: 2023 Outstanding Community Engagement Award, American Planning Association New Jersey Chapter: OUR Jersey City Master Plan; and 2021 Heissenbuttel Award for Planning Excellence, New York Planning Federation: Mount Kisco Comprehensive Plan and Downtown Overlay Zone

BFJ’s conceptual design for Waverly Place in Madison, NJ, includes ideas to enliven a railroad underpass. Rendering © BFJ Planning

Transformative Projects

BFJ has completed more than 1,000 projects in the United States, East Asia, Europe, and South America—many of them transformative in nature.

The firm has led the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative, an economic development project, since 2016. “We help communities throughout New York dream big while selecting strategic projects that will jump-start the revitalization of their downtowns,” says Principal Susan Favate, who has been with the firm for 18 years. Equally impactful is the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan for Staten Island, which was developed in response to Hurricane Sandy. Principal Sarah Yackel managed the multidisciplinary team, led by Perkins Eastman, that worked closely with community representatives to gain consensus on the use of federal rebuilding funds. “The critical importance of this project, coupled with the emotional weight of the damage done to the community, including the loss of life, homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure, made this project both challenging and incredibly rewarding,” Yackel says.

BFJ’s comprehensive plan for the revitalization of the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge called for improved waterfront access and open space connections, more street greenery, and view preservation. Drawing by Paul Buckhurst | © BFJ Planning
The firm’s vision plan for the West Side Rail Yards (now known as Hudson Yards) in Manhattan advocated for a residential neighborhood and park facing the Hudson River, with community facilities and office buildings on the city-facing side of the site. Drawing by Paul Buckhurst | © BFJ Planning
Perkins Eastman and BFJ Planning’s collaboration on the Hanoi Capital Master Plan to 2030 produced a land-use plan for the greater Hanoi region with distinct satellite cities and large swaths of green areas for rice plantations and flood-control efforts. Site Plan by Paul Buckhurst | © Perkins Eastman

Another project by the firm involved long-term planning for the Perkins Eastman-led Hanoi Capital Master Plan to 2030 in Vietnam, which Jacquemart, who directs BFJ’s infrastructure work, describes as “a memorable project that provided a unique opportunity to work in a world with different planning rules and modes of travel.” The firm also produced a property assessment of Hartford-Brainard Airport in Hartford, CT, which included development constraints and recommendations, environmental impacts and a remediation plan, and a community engagement plan. And a particularly challenging downtown waterfront plan for Duluth, MN, was ultimately recognized by the American Planning Association’s Minnesota Chapter with a Waterfront Center Outstanding Planning Award.

Hylan Boulevard, the longest commercial road on Staten Island, NY, features natural, cost-effective drainage systems such as bluebelts and bioswales—part of the reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Sandy. Rendering © Perkins Eastman
BFJ’s downtown master plan and form-based code for Wilton, CT, built on an earlier conservation and development plan, involved additional outreach to local stakeholders, and included a market analysis by Urbanomics. Rendering © BFJ Planning

Collaborative and Collegial

The firm’s small team approach—and supportive environment—is vital to its success. “We pride ourselves on having a culture that is, first and foremost, collegial,” says Fish, recipient of the New York Planning Federation’s 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award. Yackel echoes his thoughts: “There’s an openness of communication and level of respect given to independent thought here that I truly love. Plus, we’re known for fostering young talent. We like to give staff opportunities to participate in a meaningful way, from presenting work at public workshops to contributing to plan recommendations.”

BFJ Planning staff members gathered for a portrait (left to right): Planner Eshti Sookram; Senior Planner Mark Freker; Planner Nile Johnson; Principal Sarah Yackel; Associate Principal Noah Levine; Principal Georges Jacquemart; Associate Principal Jonathan Martin; Planner Emily Tolbert; Planner Suzanne Goldberg; Principal Frank Fish; Urbanomics Principal Tina Lund; Senior Planner Christine Jimenez; Planner Lucy Pidcock; Principal Susan Favate; and Associate Principal Thomas Madden. Not Pictured: Associate Silvia Del Fava; Office Manager Françoise Mohamed; Planner Michelle Gilman; and Evan Accardi, intern. Photograph by Sean Duggan | © Perkins Eastman

Associate Principal Thomas Madden, one of the newer members of the team, was drawn to the firm’s inclusive environment and multidisciplinary approach. “We work on amazing projects with incredible clients both small and large, public and private. That flexibility was very appealing,” he says. Favate agrees: “I’m constantly learning and being faced with new challenges. We work on so many different types of projects, and, in the process, do our best to improve the diverse places where we work.”

Office Manager Françoise Mohamed, who has worked for BFJ for nearly a decade, says it best: “I feel like I’m working with family, and I look forward to settling at my desk every morning.” N

 This article was updated on June 6, 2024.