Fall 2022 Urban Planning Semester in Review

The academic year 2022-23 started with multiple changes in the Urban Planning programs. In the last few years, we sought out various ways to ramp up professional and career services for students and alumni. With our inaugural Associate Director of Professional Development and Practice, Douglas Woodward, situated in Avery 300, we now have a full range of career and professional services at UP, offering every student individual consultations on connecting academic studies with career goals. Kian Goldman joined us as the Assistant Director of Urban Planning, supporting both the MSUP and doctoral programs in administration and finance, MSUP student advising, communications, student organizations, etc. Three new faculty – Jenna Dublin-Boc, Tom Slater, and Anthony Vanky – are on board. Together with our current faculty, they are poised to galvanize our engagement with planning and across disciplines, thereby opening new possibilities for curriculum and research activities. As you will see in the Program Updates section, they will teach a number of new electives in the Spring.

The most endearing part of the new normal is how excited we are to be together in person, whenever possible. Avery Hall and the UP Lounge are full of life and energy, so are our Lectures in Planning Series (LiPS), skill and career workshops, and networking events. Up close, we also are seeing the growth and achievement of students. Of particular note are some garnering major recognitions: five are among the 2022-23 Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) / Morgan Stanley Community Development Fellows (Carlos Miranda Pereyra, Hilary Ho, Matthew Shore, Rousol Aribi, and Sabina Sethi Unni). Five out of the nine fellows this year are our students – an unprecedented record! Three students are working with community boards through the Community Planning Fellowship offered by the Fund for the City of New York (Dmitri Johnson, Mollye Liu, and Morgan Reuther). Congratulations to all of you and others who have been extraordinarily active in and beyond the classroom.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!


We welcome new adjunct faculty members this Fall: Anita Laremont, Partner at Fried Frank and Former Chair, NYC City Planning Commission; Javier Lopez, Principal and Founder, Real Time Response, Inc.; and Jessica Mathew, Senior Advisor for Special Projects and Initiatives, Office of the Chair at Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In Spring 2023, more colleagues will be joining us as adjunct faculty: Melissa Bindra, Principal, Vaya Development, LLC; Lisa Blake, Hazard Mitigation Planning Manager, Michael Baker International; Aline Estefam, Vice President & Project Lead – Planning & Design, Melissa Johnson Associates; Jonathan Meyers, Partner, HR&A Advisors; Mauricio Rada, Solutions Analyst, UrbanFootprint; and Charles Stewart, Assistant Director of Real Estate Development, St. Nicks Alliance.

In the Spring, we will have four new courses:

Divided Cities: Political Economy of Urban Inequality - Tom Slater

    This course scans and explores some salient features of social division, inequality, and troubling transformation in a range of metropolitan contexts, and considers how these features are analyzed by a variety of intellectual approaches. It begins by providing some theoretical foundations, mapping out an intellectual history of urban division. It then focuses on multiple aspects of urban inequality across several contexts: the specificity of the ghetto as mechanism of sociospatial exclusion in Renaissance Venice ; the rise and fall of public housing in Chicago and well beyond; the emergence of neighborhoods of ‘relegation’ via a specific focus on the global phenomenon of territorial stigmatization; the causes and consequences of the pivotal urban process of gentrification in New York City; the housing struggles erupting globally in the context of the financialization of real estate; and the history of entrenched racial segregation in Cape Town, South Africa.

Gentrification and Displacement: Power, Planning and Political Action - Tom Slater

    This course offers students a comprehensive overview of the process of gentrification on a global scale. It provides students with 1) a guide to the competing theories that have been devised to explain why gentrification happens, 2) a strong sense of the implications of gentrification for people living at the bottom of the urban class structure (in particular, the many forms and complexities of displacement), and 3) informed accounts of how gentrification is resisted in several contexts where the threat of displacement is very real. Via elaborate dissection of case studies from across all five continents, the course traces the history of gentrification research, cutting through the noise of an enormous literature by highlighting gentrification as a profit-driven class and racial reconfiguration of urban communities that have suffered from a history of disinvestment and abandonment. We also pay close attention to Columbia University’s troubled relationship with its neighboring communities, and engage with social movements in those communities currently insisting that the university changes its approach.

Neighborhood Land Use Activism - Jenna Dublin-Boc

    This course explores the topic of resistance to residential displacement in predominantly BIPOC urban communities, with a focus on conflicts over land use change. The intersection of municipal land use systems and neighborhood activism among racial/ethnic minority groups is a critical but understudied dimension of urban development. In many instances, community-based organizations plan “by themselves for themselves” to resist the bureaucratic processes that contribute to undesirable neighborhood changes, such as gentrification. Students will examine political-economic analyses of rezoning processes, the forms of spatial inequality created and perpetuated by municipal land use, and how these same institutions may offer opportunities for activism in the interest of social justice. How might the procedural and regulatory aspects of zoning and closely related historic preservation offer opportunities for influence in urban decision-making and increased institutional accountability? This is a solutions-oriented course, so students will develop their critical analysis and research design skills to investigate examples of community-based organizations engaging in social justice activism through city land use institutions or other public agencies. The potential shortcomings of these practices and the costs of local control will also be analyzed.

Urban Sensing and Data - Anthony Vanky

    This course asks how sensing technologies can validate or challenge these theories of public space and social interaction through the measurement of urban environmental stimuli, and how we intersect them with aspects of environmental quality and justice, sustainability, equity, and overall general well-being. We will use the university context as a living laboratory to test and reevaluate the commonly-accepted theories of public life while engaging in critical conversations that balance the positive aspects of better-informed design and policy with the challenges concerning data ethics, surveillance, and privacy. Participants in this hands-on workshop will design and implement prototypes for the creation of data on human activity, and environmental conditions and quality. You will write code, evaluate and implement sensors and wire circuits on the Arduino platform. Students will also learn methodologies to analyze and present the data, and consider interventions based on these findings. There are no prerequisites in coding or electronics, but a desire to learn and engage hands-on is an absolute must – you’re the maker, designer, and creator!

We’re happy to report that we have been able to re-initiate traveling studios this year, as well as adding a new joint studio with MSRED. The studios include:

  • Indigenous Roots in Canada: Reconciling Planning Approaches for a Cultural Movement in Temagami and Toronto - Sybil Wa & Anthony Borelli
  • Exploring & Translating Resilience Planning in Barcelona - Ebru Gencer and Lisa Blake.
  • The Future of Interborough Transit & Outerborough NYC - Jeff Shumaker & Jenna Dublin-Boc.
  • Recalibrating Post-Pandemic Planning in Staten Island - Matthew Bauer & Calvin Brown
  • Infrastructures of Autonomy: A Sustainable Community in the Face of Climate Change in Culebra, Puerto Rico - Ubaldo Escalante & Pedro Rivera (Joint UP/Architecture)
  • The Whole Package: Integrating Last-Mile Delivery Into the Urban Environment - Adam Lubinsky & Melissa Bindra (Joint UP/MSRED)

Congratulations to our colleagues who have assumed new practice positions: Maxine Griffith as the Chief Infrastructure Officer for Trinity Church Wall Street; Ariella Maron as the Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission; and Howard Slatkin as the Executive Director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council.

Robert Beauregard‘s article “The Entanglements of Uncertainty” won the Chester Rapkin Award for the Best Paper in the Journal of Planning Education and Research.

Ebru Gencer has recently supported UN-Habitat for the development of the Global Action Plan for Transforming Informal Settlements and Slums by 2030. The Action Plan was launched in October 2022, with a communique of Ministers in South Africa. Ebru Gencer has also recently worked with UNDRR and ICCROM to develop a Words into Action Guide on Traditional Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction. The draft guide was launched earlier this Fall and is currently in the public review process.

The most recent book by Weiping Wu was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in September, titled China Urbanizing: Impacts and Transitions. It’s the outcome of multi-disciplinary collaboration by scholars from anthropology, economics, political science, public health, social work and policy, sociology, and urban planning and studies. She has become the Chair of the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB), which accredits university programs in North America leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in urban and regional planning. At the November annual conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) in Toronto, Weiping received the Jay Chatterjee Award for Distinguished Service to ACSP.


URBAN Magazine will be releasing its Fall issue titled Fluidity exploring the boundaries and complex relationships that exist within and beyond the traditional dimension of planning. Contributions come from students and educators across GSAPP and practitioners from New York City and beyond, varying in format from essay to poem to drawing. Kyliel Thompson (M.S. UP ’23), Eshti Sookram (M.S. UP ’23), and Gabby Coleman (M.S. UP ’23) are serving as the Senior Content, Senior Outreach, and Senior Design Editors and are accompanied by Junior Editors Rob Sanchez (M.S. UP ’23), Alyana Acacio (M.S. UP and M.S. RED ’25), Matthew Meyer (M.S. UP ’24), Olivia Jia (M.S. UP ’24), Felipe Urrutia (M.S. UP ’24), and Ethan Floyd (M.S. UP ’24).

Urban Planning Program Council welcomed Andrew Cronson (M.S. UP and M.S. HP ‘25), Shannon Hui (M.S. UP '24), Ethan Floyd (M.S. UP '24) and Ted Lim (M.S. UP '24) who were selected as the First-Year Program Council Representatives. They joined Victoria Lin (M.S. UP '23) and Matthew Shore (M.S. UP '23) who are the Second-Year Program Council Representatives. For the first time we hosted the Urban Planning Welcome Back Picnic in Central Park as well as a Campus Secrets Tour that allowed students access to lesser known locations in Columbia University. We also hosted the annual Thanksgiving Dinner and a Jonathan Pacheco Bell LiPs Lecture + Lunch so students have opportunities to speak to embedded planners who work in the field.

Urban China Network hosted the 9th Annual Urban China Forum with the theme Sustainable Urban Planning in China that recorded over 7000 virtual attendees globally over the two days and streamed through the Columbia Global Centres WeChat Platform. Students had a chance to hear from distinguished scholars from Tsinghua University, Hong Kong University, Southeast University, and Barnard College speak on topics of Urban Renewal and Historic Preservation, Economic Development, and Environmental Issues. A big thank to the efforts of our Co-Presidents: Wei Xiao (M.S. UP and M.Arch 24’) and Victoria Lin (M.S. UP ‘23); Media and Design Officer, Ruiqi Zhu (M.S. UP’23); Communication Officer, Zhiyang Chen (M.S. UP ’24); and Treasurer/Financial Officer, Mollye Liu (M.S. UP ’23).


Kirthi Balakrishnan (M.S. UP ‘23) continued her summer internship with SOM in the fall semester. She was sponsored by CARTO to attend the Spatial Data Science Conference held at Columbia University and Google Chelsea.

Natalie Bartfay (M.S. UP ’23) is the Public Space Alliance Fellow with the Friends of the High Line. Working to advance equitable public spaces, she supports a network of fifteen infrastructure adaptive reuse projects across New York City. In this role, she coordinated a technical assistance program and facilitated community engagement and equity initiatives.

Sebastian Bielski (M.S. UP ’23) is a Cities Intern at Buro Happold in New York. He is currently working on a plethora of projects ranging from mobility consulting to climate action planning.

Christian Budow (M.S. UP'23) is a Data Engagement Intern for Numina in Brooklyn. He is currently measuring all kinds of curb activity, from traffic volume to mobility behavior. He works with cities’ existing work flows and infrastructure and also approaches cities with innovative business models and share best practices — making it easy for cities to adopt. Numina’s sensors use onboard computing to pre-process and then erase imagery, resulting in datasets that are anonymous and secure.

Stefan Chavez-Norgaard (PhD Candidate) spent the Fall 2022 semester in Mahikeng and Johannesburg, South Africa, where he conducted dissertation field research studying areas of apartheid-era forced relocation and how they have been re-purposed by residents and planners. He spent some solitary days in regional and national archives, and other social days interviewing planners, civil servants, and residents. Stefan also attended the ACSP 2022 PhD (Doctoral) Workshop remotely, and was co-editor of a Special Forum with the journal Society + Space. You can view that published Special Forum here.

Sean Chew (M.S. UP ‘23) is Data Scientist trainee at the US Department of Transportation Volpe Center. He is working with the center on building open source tools to help transit agencies evaluate the effect of transportation policies on cities. Recently, he also presented research at the ACSP conference on how technology can be used to encourage participation in climate disaster response.

Jenna Davis (PhD Candidate) started adjuncting at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at CUNY, where she enjoyed teaching a housing policy class in the Master of Public Administration program. Also, she and fellow PhD candidate Joe Huennekens co-authored an article about the YIMBY movement this fall (forthcoming in Journal of Urban Affairs).

Eliza Dekker (M.S. UP ‘23) is a GIS Fellow for Bloomberg Associates’ Sustainability team. Her work uses geospatial analysis to guide solar PV feasibility in London, green infrastructure siting in Phoenix and equity-driven priority tree planting initiatives in Tampa.

Margaret Hanson (M.S. UP '23) is a Certification Intern with the Center for Active Design (CfAD). She is currently working with the CfAD team to upkeep various data management tools to assist with certification management tasks for Fitwel, CfAD’s building rating systems focused exclusively on occupant health.

Hilary Ho (M.S. UP '23) is a 2022-2023 ANHD Morgan Stanley Community Development Fellow at Hope Community Inc., where she is supporting the organization’s affordable housing building sustainability and decarbonization initiatives in East Harlem. She also developed and released the NYC Climate Resilience Plan Mapper (resiliencemapnyc.org) with RPA, an interactive mapping tool that highlights community-based climate resilience efforts. Together with the Energy & Environment team at RPA, she presented the tool during NYC Climate Week and Columbia’s Sandy+10 conference.

Candice Ji (M.S. UP ‘23) is an apprentice at Gehl Studio. She is currently working on setting the principles for the updated Urban Design Guideline for the City of Cambridge and understanding how communities outside of the United States funded, designed, sustained, and relied on social infrastructure before, during, and after the pandemic. She is also involved in a playground evaluation initiative in Southeast Michigan and Western New York, as well as the impact assessment for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel Creative Program. Her capstone project dissects the topic of easing urban loneliness and increasing social connection. The focus of her research is on developing more equitable, livable, and sustainable communities.

Thiago Lee (M.S.UP and M.Arch. '23) worked as an Urban Design intern at CBT Architects and had his architecture studio project featured in the 13th International Architecture Biennale of São Paulo - “Travessias”.

Mollye Liu (M.S. UP ‘23) is a Community Planning Fellow for the Fund for the City of New York. She is currently working with Manhattan Community Board 7 in Upper West Side on their affordable housing project. The focus of her research is creating the current affordable housing inventory database and identifying the future housing conversion and development opportunities.

Sabina Sethi Unni (M.S. UP '23) was awarded the New City Critics fellowship, an 18-month fellowship created to empower new, fearless, and diverse voices to challenge the ways we understand, design, and develop our cities.

Students visit the HR&A office with MSUP alumni
This summer we opened our new consolidated GSAPP Career Services center on the 300 mezzanine level of Avery with Career Services staff from UP, RED, and the Architecture and Design programs. Our initiatives have included workshops on resume-writing, composing cover letters, interviewing, and other topics of interest to our current students. One particularly popular event has been the office visit. We were hosted by HR&A for their first group visit since the pandemic, and met with staff who briefed us on HR&A’s extensive portfolio of planning projects. UP alums who helped us organize the event and networked with the students included:
    Eri Furusawa, MSUP ’18, Director
    Laura Semearo, MSUP ’19, Analyst
    Geon Woo Lee, MSUP ’21, Analyst
    Sori Han, MSUP ’22, Analyst

In addition to intensive one-on-one advising with students, we also held a very successful networking mixer with alums and students at Row House in Harlem on November 11, and are looking to repeat the event in the Spring.

We have also had sixteen mentor/mentee pairings this year, thanks to the response from many alums in helping the new cohort of planners as they prepare to enter the workforce. The program has proven enjoyable and enlightening for both sides of the pairings. Feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive and the program has become a key part of readying the student planners for the challenges and opportunities of real-world planning. We hope to expand the program even further next year, and provide this chance for students to learn about the world of planning from more of our expert practitioner alums.


Nausheen H. Anwar (MSUP ‘07) is now a Professor of City & Regional Planning at a public sector university based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is the Founder & Director of the Karachi Urban Lab, a research, mentoring and advocacy space on diverse issues: from the challenges of land displacement, urban violence, affordable housing, and public transport to the impact of global warming on cities and infrastructural challenges. Nausheen’s latest research examines vulnerability through the lens of extreme heat. This interdisciplinary research is a collaborative project with partners based in the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, Jakarta (Indonesia), Hyderabad (India), and Yaounde (Cameroon). Nausheen also serves on the Technical Advisory Board of the WHO-WMO on understanding the risks to health arising from indoor overheating. For more information about Nausheen’s work and about Karachi Urban Lab, visit http://karachiurbanlab.com/about.html

Ted Bardacke‘s (MSUP ‘02) organization, a government joint powers authority going into its fifth year of operations, has become the nation’s largest provider of 100% renewable energy and thus the default energy supplier for Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

Leofwin Clark (MSUP ‘88) has established an independent consultancy to provide education and implementation guidance for Construction Management at Risk (CMAR) and Design-Build (DB) projects.

Ali Estefam (MSUP ‘20) has been interviewed by Ben Mankiewicz ('92 JRN) at Turner Classic Movies, where she talked about his journey immigrating to America, and her professional path and growth. Full interview at: https://youtu.be/KeMA9p-cZS0.

Patrick T. Hoffman (MSUP ‘12) was promoted to Senior Product Manager, Google, Commerce.

Yining Lei (MSUP ‘20) spent two fruitful years with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and relocated to Philadelphia this Fall to begin her doctoral studies in City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, where she continues to pursue her scholarly interests in affordable housing, neighborhood change, and urban data analytics.

Fred Nangle (MSUP ‘92) has been at Metro-North for over 20 years, doing capital planning and service analysis - not classical urban planning, but UP (Grava, Allee, and the Fall Studio on Sunnyside Yard/LIC led by Doug Woodward et al.) prepared him well for it just the same!

Michelle Young, (MSUP ‘12) and GSAPP Alumni Board member has sold her forthcoming narrative non-fiction book THE ART SPY, about French Resistance spy and art historian Rose Valland, the oft-forgotten female member of the “Monuments Men,” to HarperOne, an imprint of Harper Collins. Valland secretly tracked and saved art looted by Nazis from right under the nose of Hitler’s right-hand man Hermann Goring and is credited with providing the information that stopped the last train of stolen art from leaving France just before the end of the war.

Several alumni were recipients of the 2022-2023 GSAPP Incubator Prize: Priyanka Jain (MSUP ’12) with REve, Adam Lubitz (MSUP and MSHP ’18) with Black Beaches: Establishing Reparations from Belmar to Bruce’s Beach, California, and Da’Quallon Deshun Smith (MSUP ’15) with Prosperity Under Contextual Adversity.

The opening of David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center celebrates the accomplishments of a large number of UP, GSAPP, and Columbia faculty and alums who worked on the just-completed reimagining of the building, originally designed in 1962 as Philharmonic Hall by Max Abramovitz (M.Arch '31). Among the talented group that worked on the project were: Alums Shreya Ghoshal (MSUP and MSHP ‘20), Judith Saltzman (MSHP ‘80),Yi Jiang (MSUP '18 and MArch ‘21), and James Piacentini (MSUP and MArch ’20); Faculty Sybil Wa (UP), Peter Flamm (UP), Vin Cipolla (UP), Michael Rock (Arch), Douglas Woodward (UP), Alanna Browdy (UP), and Eli Gottlieb (Engineering).

Many thanks to all the alums who came to meet with the current students on November 11 at the networking event:

  • Myles Agudelo, MSUP ’21, Associate, Center for Active Design
  • Conor Allerton, MSUP ’20, Director of Land Use, Councilmember Christopher Marte
  • Jahnavi Aluri, MSUP ’17, Planner, Jamaica Center BID
  • Suprima Bhele, MSUP ’19, Assistant VP for Data Strategy, Morgan Stanley
  • Lisa Blake, MSUP ‘12 , Hazard Mitigation Planning Manager, Michael Blake International
  • Anthony Borelli, MSUP ’96, Sr. VP Planning & Development, Edison Properties, Adjunct Associate Professor, UP
  • Rebecca Cook, MSUP ’20, Project Manager, Gehl
  • Jessica Cruz, MSUP ’17, Program Manager, Advocacy & Organizing, TransitCenter
  • Yuning Feng, MSUP and MPH ’21, Project Manager, DCP
  • Elaine Hsieh, MSUP ’21, Environmental Planner, The Calladium Group
  • Yi Jiang, MSUP '18 and MArch ’21, Intermediate Architect, SOM
  • Emily Junker, MSUP and MSHP ’20, Planner, BFJ Planning
  • Ri Le, MSUP ’20, Software Development Engineer, ESRI
  • Megan Marini, MSUP ‘12, Principal, 3x3 Design
  • Brady Meixell, MSUP ’22, Government Relations & Business Services Manager, SW Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp.
  • Juan Moreno, MSUP ’21, Analyst, HR&A
  • Eve Passman, MSUP ’22, Analyst, Hudson Housing Capital, LLC
  • James Piacentini, MSUP and M.Arch ’20, Product Manager, Digital Services, DCP
  • Eric Pietraszkiewicz, MSUP ’18, Computational Designer, KPF
  • Mauricio Rada, MSUP ‘22, Solutions Analyst, UrbanFootprint
  • Kat Sibel, MSUP ’22
  • Evan Sweet, MSUP ’17, Director of Neighborhood Planning & Operations, Meatpacking District Management Association
  • Jade Watkins, MSUP and MPH ’20, Urban Planner, HNTB
  • Savannah Wu, MSUP ’20, Community Planner, Clinton Housing Co.

We would like to thank the following alumni for their participation in the UP Mentorship Program this year. Thanks also to those of you who volunteered despite not being matched this time around. For more information about the program, please contact Douglas Woodward at dw38@columbia.edu.

  • Anthony Borelli, MSUP ’96, Sr. VP Planning & Development, Edison Properties, Adjunct Associate Professor, UP
  • Alanna Browdy, MSUP ’20, Strategist, Gensler; Adjunct Assistant Professor, UP
  • Cate Corley, MSUP ’05, Marketing & Communications Manager, STV
  • Avery Dement, MSUP ’18, Underwriter, Low Income Investment Fund
  • Tim Douglas, MSUP ’16, Planner III, STV
  • Eri Furusawa, MSUP ’18, Director, HR&A
  • Steven Getz, MSUP ’17, VP Head of Production, Community Preservation Corp.
  • Yi Jiang, MSUP '18 and MArch '21, Intermediate Architect, SOM
  • Sahra Mirbabaee, MSUP ’17, Student, Harvard Law School
  • Andrea Partenio, MSUP ’20, Philanthropic Civic Consultant, Bloomberg Associates
  • Briana Peppers, MSUP ’16, Director, Real Estate & Government Relations, Kasirer
  • Heather Roiter, MSUP ’07, Assistant Commissioner, Risk Reduction & Management, NYC Emergency Management
  • Charlie Romanow, MSUP ’18, Transportation Planner, WSP
  • Justin Romeo, MSUP ’18, Director of Special Projects, NYC DOT
  • Sonal Shah, MSUP ’08, Founder, Urban Catalysts
  • Evan Sweet, MSUP ’17, Director of Neighborhood Planning & Operations, Meatpacking District Management Association

And don’t forget to SAVE THE DATE for the UP reception on Saturday evening, April 1, 2023, at the APA National Conference in Philadelphia! The last time we were able to host a reception in person, we had a great turn-out in San Diego; we’re hoping for an even larger group this year with Philadelphia in easy reach of our base in New York. More details forthcoming.