Summer 2023 Urban Design Newsletter
From the Director

Greetings from Avery Hall where we are welcoming our largest class to date. Urban design in the broadest sense is truly having a moment! Our conceptual knowledge, drawing skills, passion, ability to engage citizens, and understanding of what it takes to drive equitable urban transformation is truly needed and necessary. Our graduates are leading public urban design agencies, working in the private sector on site plans and urban design strategies, leading public workshops, or working everywhere from the World Bank and the United Nations to local nonprofits, to large and small firms. Our MSAUD graduates are also working in higher education, where they are teaching and learning about urban conditions in institutions across the world. We are so proud of the students, alums, and faculty in the UD program.

Our Class of 2023 was amazing. We miss them already! For their final Studio, we embarked on a complex, coordinated trip to three cities in Colombia (Cartagena, Bogota, and Cali) titled “Resilient Colombia: Double Displacement at the Water’s Edge.” See more info below.

GSAPP’s new dean, Andres Jaque Ovejero has visited the UD program and studio many times (often bringing pizza!), and is extremely enthusiastic about Urban Design’s expanding influence in the school. The school is alive with warmth, conversation, and the exchange of ideas.

After nearly five decades of teaching at Columbia, Professor Richard Plunz retired at the end of 2022. Richard shaped GSAPP and the fields of Architecture and Urban Design in lasting ways and we are grateful for his immeasurable contributions and ceaseless dedication to students and leadership of the MSAUD program over many years. Congratulations, Richard and on behalf of the Program, thank you.

As always, we want to hear from you – what are you doing, seeing, and hearing? Send us links, articles, and events so we can share the emerging forms of urban design practice that you are piloting with the global UD community. Please help us help our graduates as they enter the professional realm, and let us know if there are new opportunities near you.

Best to all!

Kate Orff

Program Updates

We’ve just welcomed the UD Class of 2024! The Program culture is robust with weekly lectures, events, and active conversations. We’ve burst out of our space in Fayerweather Hall and are teaching this summer on the 500 Avery level. The level of excitement is palpable.

Meanwhile, here is a reminder of the thoughtful work from UD Studio I, in the Summer of 2022, which introduces the New York City metropolitan region to new students by examining neighborhoods, systems, and coastlines.

UD Studio I, Summer 2022, Faculty: Nans Voron, Sagi Golan, Sean Gallagher, Galen Pardee, Austin Sakong, Sean Gallagher, Sanjukta Sen, Miriam Peterson, Candelaria Mas Pohmajevic

Last Fall, UD Studio II, led by Emanuel Admassu and team, visited Atlanta in-person (Fall 2021 was done remotely!) to continue the “Atlanta After Property” project. The studio asked that students engage with the legacies and continuing effects of racial and social inequality, and they met with community organizers, housing specialists, educators, land trust groups, and artists as well as design professionals. Projects focused on questions of land tenure, housing, open space, parkland and forests, access to resources, and the unequal effects of climate change. See the Studio e-publication here.

Studio II, Fall 2022, Faculty: Emanuel Admassu, Nina Cooke John, Chat Travieso, Jelisa Blumberg, Regina Teng, A.L. Hu and Galina Novikova, UD ‘21, Associate.

The Spring 2023 semester UD Studio III, led by Kate Orff, visited Cartagena, Bogota, and Cali in Colombia, South America to examine “Double Displacement” – the displacement of people from the countryside into informal settlements and followed by their second displacement by development and climate change. Students collaborated and traveled (and paddled in canoes and trekked over mountains!) with students from the MS Climate & Society degree program at the Columbia Climate School and worked with Universidad de los Andes (Bogota) and Universidad del Valle (Cali). They met with local organizations, global non-profits, and regional academic leaders. Overall, the projects explored varied water landscapes and contested urban terrains and focused on climate justice at different scales and serving different communities. See the Student Work page here and the Resilient Belize StoryMap here.

Studio III, Spring 2023, Faculty: Kate Orff, Thad Pawlowski, Geeta Mehta, Adriana Chavez, Dilip daCunha, and UD grads, Maria Palomares, ‘17 and Cesar Delgado, '22. GSAPP Planning professor Hugo Sarmiento joined the team as did Johanna Lovecchio from the Master’s in Climate & Society Program at the Climate School.

This year we offered two new seminars, Cartography and Property taught by Molly Burhans, and Climate Crisis = Housing Crisis taught by Deborah Morris. Burhans’ class used various mapping platforms to demonstrate the ways in which property ownership and stewardship can become actors in regenerative land-use and management. Morris’ class asked how we as a society and as a profession can house a growing population amid the stresses of environmental flux.

Continuing classes this upcoming year: Kaja Kuhl, Community Engagement Seminar, Justin Garrett Moore, Difference and Design, Kate Orff, Resilient Landscapes, Grahame Shane, Recombinant Urbanism, and David Smiley, Public Space: Rhetorics and Practices.

Finally, we want to welcome our new UD Department Assistant, Christian Mercado, who joined us in January. Christian has a background in City Planning and in nonprofit management and he has hit the ground running. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Christian via email with any questions or ideas.

Faculty Updates

Emanuel Admassu and his partner Jen Wood, of Ad-Wo, participated in the recently opened 2023 Venice Biennale. See their project discussed here.

Molly Burhans delivered the Ignatian Peacemaking Lecture at Marquette University as the opening keynote to their 2023 Mission Week. In March, Burhans received the Mercyhurst University’s Oscar Romero Award. In May, Burhans delivered the 176th Commencement address for the Class of 2023 at St. Mary’s College in Southbend, IN, where she was awarded an honorary doctorate. Burhans also spoke at the 2023 Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, presenting on property stewardship.

Adriana Chavez‘s firm ORU was named a 2023 Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York. Congratulations to the ORU team!

Sagi Golan, UD '13, New York City, when not co-coordinating the GSAPP Urban Design Summer studio, has been promoted to Deputy Director, Urban Design at the NYC Department of City Planning.

Chris Landau is releasing version 1.2 of Land Kit, a landscape workflow tool that utilizes advances in the power of computation. His firm of LANDAU Design+Technology , works on projects of all scales worldwide.

Kate Orff’s firm SCAPE put forward an installation at the 2023 Venice Biennale, titled “Workshopping the Chattahoochee.” The project is a testament to the difficult and essential work of community-driven design, explored through the lens of a decades-long planning process along the Chattahoochee River in the Metro Atlanta Region. SCAPE Design Director, GSAPP Faculty, and UD Alum, Nans Voron attended the opening. Kate was also named to the TIME 100 list, an annual compilation of the “100 most influential people.”

Austin Sakong, UD '11, New York City, when not co-teaching in the GSAPP Urban Design Summer studio, and not working at FXCollaborative, recently became a Board Member of the Embankment Preservation Coalition, a non-profit community organization based in Jersey City.

Grahame Shane contributed to the Architectural Association 175th Anniversary Celebration and lectured for the Harvard Superblocks seminar, Seville University and for the Landscape and Urbanism Program at University of Pennsylvania.

Chat Travieso contributed an essay titled “101 Ways to Refuse a Wall” in AD Magazine’s Nov/Dec 2022 issue, Architectures of Refusal. He also contributed “Yes Loitering” for Places Journal’s “Field Notes: Design Activism” series. His proposal, Labor of Love, was a finalist for the 2023 Times Square Love & Design Competition.

Alumni Updates

Françoise Schein, ‘79, teaches at the École Supérieure d'Arts et Médias (ESAM) in Caen/Cherbourg, France, where her team created a three-year Masters degree in “Design & Transitions” for art students, designers, architects, and political science students.

Dexter Moren, '80, London. At the European Ahead Awards, in November 2022, Moren was honored with the “Outstanding Achievement Award for Hospitality Design.” His firm was founded in 1992, and is now called Studio Moren, with 70+ team members.

Shimon Piltzer, '84, lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel. His firm is Piltzer Yawitz Architects .

Mary Elizabeth Rusz, FAIA, '89, New York City. Rusz consults, lectures on UD, and is co-writing an architecture primer for your design students, titled “5 x 5 = A Primer on Architecture and Urbanism.” Rusz’s first Solo Exhibition of paintings was at the Salmagundi Club, NYC, in 2022.

Yu-Chin Chen, '91, Taipei, Taiwan, is a registered architect and Chair of the Department of Architecture at Chung Yuan Christian University, Taiwan.

Anderson Chider Hsieh, '03, is a Vice President at AECOM and is President of the AIA Shanghai Chapter. He travels between Shanghai, China, and Taiwan.

Beat Aeberhard, '05, Basel, Switzerland, has been the City Architect of Basel for 8 years. The office has completed a masterplan for Klybeck (10,000 inhabitants and 8,000 workplaces). Aeberhard has been a critic at Harvard GSD, Harvard and at Karlsruhe KIT, and has contributed to two recent books about Basel, one on High Rise Design and the other on Unbuilt Projects.

Gabriella Folino, '07, Sarasota, Florida, is Director of Strategic Partnerships and founding member of Vibemap. The platform is a “city discovery app that connects you with meaningful places, experiences, and people that match your vibe.”

Dongsei Kim, '09, New York City, Kim’s 2022 book, Drawing “Hwa-Chaeng:” Mapping Contested Territories for Imagination explores the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and how mapping can produce knowledge that reimagines contested territories as productive spaces.

Pedro Jose Borges, '10, Borges Studio recently collaborated with GEHL Studio and Aalborg University on “Urban Belonging” in Copenhagen, bridging community participation, social justice, data visualization, urbanism, and visual arts, exhibited at various locations across the city.

Candice Naim, '10, Beirut, Lebanon, co-founded an architectural and urban design practice called BURAU.

Hyo Youn Kwon, '10, Seoul, South Korea, helps run Unmetpeople, “a hangout of like-minded individuals who wish to work and grow together.”

Matthew Clapper, '11, founder of MAD – Modern Architecture and Development – was named a 2023 AIA National Young Architect Award winner.

Alexandra Gonzalez, '11, New York, is the President and Co-Founder of Hive Public Space, a women-led urban design and placemaking consultancy. Gonzales and Emmanuel Oni recently completed the “WEAVING PATHS // BEYOND MEMORIAL,” as part of the Design Trust for Public Space Awards To Health Equity Projects.

Jaeil Jeon, '11, Seoul, South Korea, recently joined Sejong Cyber University, an online university, where he focuses on architecture and urban design.

Devanshi Purohit, '13, was recently awarded the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce 2023 Pinnacle Award. The Pinnacle Awards recognize dynamic leading women in Boston for outstanding achievement in their industry and commitment to the community. She is an Associate Principal at CBT, Boston.

Carolina Montilla, '13, Seattle, Washington, is a strategy director at Gensler Seattle, working on innovation projects and corporate campuses across the country.

Silvia Vercher, '14, is an Adjunct Associate Professor at New York Institute of Technology, a member of the NYC Architecture Biennial team, and recently presented at the “Transforming Cities and Infrastructure for Sustainable Future” panel hosted by UN-Habitat New York Office at the United Nations.

Huiwen Zhu, '15, is a member of the Grey Area Incubator, has most recently worked as a real estate developer in San Francisco.

Nabi Agzamov, '16, London, United Kingdom, has started in the PhD program at RMIT university and was awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship as part of the EU-funded “RMIT European Doctoral Innovators (REDI) Program” (aka REDI). Together with 5th Studio, Agzamov will be exploring ecological urbanism and common challenges across several cities around the North Sea, including “A New Hansa.”

Sebastian Delpino, '16, Santiago, Chile. In December of 2022, Delpino was promoted to Associate Architect and Urban Designer at Urbana E&D, a firm that specializes in development and design of Planning and Urban Design projects, often in association with landscape and architectural studios. Most recently Urbana E&D has been working on environmental planning and conservation projects.

Zhuoran Zhao, '16, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has enrolled in a master’s degree program in Engineering Leadership at UBC, Vancouver.

Majed Abdulsamad, '17, New York, was recently promoted to Associate at WXY, helping lead the company’s work on Re-Envisioning the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE).

Dissa Pidanti Raras, '17, is currently at Ramboll/Henning Larsen, in Singapore, working on public landscape and resiliency projects in Southeast Asia.

Mengke Wu, '17, Champaign, Illinois, is working on a PhD in Informatics at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, focusing on user experience and human behavior.

Deeksha Kalra, '18, Boston, Massachusetts, is an Urban Designer at CBT Architects in Boston and is working on master planning, rezoning and revitalization projects.

Niharika Kannan, '18, Los Angeles, California, is a Project Director for Urban Design at RIOS Design.

Yuqi Cui, '18, San Francisco, California, is a Product Designer at WRNS Studio.

Yeonkyu Park, '18, is a Senior Associate at Gakyeong Architects in Seoul.

Zilu He, '19, Berkeley, California, returned from China and is now a student in the Master of Architecture program at UC Berkeley.

Gabriel Vergara, '19, Providence, Rhode Island, has exhibited BORDÆR: Cartographies and Narratives of Migration, done with Angela Crisostomo '19 - and the migrant women’s group Junt@as Vamos - at the Ciudad Juarez Art Museum.

Claudia Kleffman, '20, was an urban designer at De Zwarte Hond (The Black Dog) in the Netherlands and is now an urban designer at sa_partners in Zurich.

Candelaria Mas Pohmajevic, '20, co-hosted an “Equitable Food Access at the Neighborhood Scale” panel for the C40 World Mayors Summit in Buenos Aires with her colleagues at Gehl. For more, see foodscapes here.

Zhen Hua, '20, recently joined CallisonRTKL.

Ting Zhang, '20, New York, New York, works as a Design Analyst at Gensler NY, focusing on workplace strategies utilizing data analytics, engagement, and storytelling skills (developed at GSAPP UD!, she says). Ting has recently been joined by Rotina Tian, UD '22.

Nina Lish, '20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, now works as an Architectural Project Manager for the City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation in the Capital Projects department. Lish also teaches at Temple University.