Spring 2017 has been an incredible time for the urban planning program here at Columbia. There are forward movements on many fronts. We welcomed Hiba Bou Akar to the full-time faculty; with Margaret Wiryaman on board, the program now has a full-time manager; and five new adjunct faculty joined us in teaching new courses. Speaking of new courses, there has been a lot of buzz about them: in the UP lounge, in the classrooms, and in lunches with me, students are talking about complete streets, digital restructuring, disaster planning, machine learning, residential planning, and social entrepreneurship. The critical knowledge and skills in these areas are galvanizing student interests and preparing them for the planning challenges of today and tomorrow. For Fall 2017, we have planned another set of new courses to continue this momentum, and you can see what they are in the Program Updates section.
Every spring, we recruit and put together the incoming class. It must have been for the excitement around our curriculum and for the incredible involvement of many current students in making connections with prospective students through emails and at the open house: this year we achieved the best yield since 2005. The class joining us in September 2017 will be our largest ever. Helping the prospective students understand our program also has helped us become more explicit about our strengths. As you can see from my welcome letter to them as well as UP’s updated website, we are committed to connecting the study of the urban built environment with grounded analysis of socioeconomic and political conditions; exploring the tensions between market forces, civil society, and the goals of planning, while paying special attention to the role of urban analytics and the quest for social justice; and helping students learn to evaluate and shape efforts to develop and enhance cities and their communities in ways that foster healthy and sustainable living. All of these are situated in a global outlook and active engagement with practice.
Throughout this semester, I have met and heard from many UP alums about your professional experience and ideas for closer relations with the program. Particularly exciting are the connections between alums and current students made at the second annual career week in February (really, it went on for two weeks): at the alumni panels, job fair, and alumni networking evening. Building sustained relations with our alums to enhance professional development for both students and alums is a key effort that we have begun to undertake. Specifically, for Fall 2017, we hope to develop a set of profiles to showcase the rich and varied career paths of our alums, and we will be launching a mentoring program to prepare students for the professional world. So please get in touch with your updates and suggestions.
One last bit of advertisement: our students are gearing up for GSAPP’s End of Year Show (EoYS) to showcase their work in studios, theses, projects, and URBAN magazine. EoYS will open in the evening of Saturday May 13 and last for about a week. I hope you will come and see their work.
With mixed emotions we are announcing the retirement of Robert Beauregard as Professor and Director of the Ph.D. program in Urban Planning. After a decade of service to the program and school, Bob has decided to transition to a new phase of life. While we are happy for him, he will be sorely missed. Bob’s directorship of the Ph.D. program has been critical to its success. Professor Lance Freeman will assume Directorship of the Ph.D. program effective July 1, 2017.
We are thrilled to welcome a new full-time faculty to join us in Fall 2017. Associate Professor Malo Hutson is a widely recognized scholar, teacher, and practitioner whose research at the intersection of urban planning and health inequities is of profound relevance in the planning of today’s cities across the United States, and around the world. See GSAPP’s media advisory here. He will focus his teaching on the M.S. UP program, including the core course Planning Methods and a new elective course on health and the built environment.
Also, we are excited that several new adjunct faculty will start teaching UP courses in Fall 2017. They are Clara Chung, a graduate of the M.S. UP program and a Deployment Strategist at Intersection; Charles Euchner, an independent writer, teacher, and coach, with an academic background in urban politics and policy-making; Adam Lubinsky, a graduate of GSAPP’s M. Arch program with a Ph.D. in planning from UCL, and Managing Principal at WXY Architecture + Urban Design; Moira O’Neil-Hutson, a scholar and researcher on community development and local government law; and Kathleen Onieal, a Managing Partner of the Helix Innovation Network.
The new courses for Spring 2017 are well received by students, and we will have another set of new courses for Fall 2017, including Introduction to Design Thinking Method: Facilitating Urban Planning Innovation, Local and State Economic Development, Playing with Anomalies and Co-Producing New Imaginaries: Bogotá River (Joint Arch/UP Seminar), Policies and Outcomes: Inclusion and Housing in NYC, Practicum: Planning and Mega Projects in Global Cities, Prototyping for Urban Planners with Open Data, and Writing the City.
Robert Beauregard recently gave two lectures at the University of Tampere (Finland), one titled “Urban Policy in the United States” and the other “The Socio-Materiality of Cities and Planning.” While there, he also conducted a doctoral workshop on urban studies research. In addition, with Professor Marco Cremaschi (SciencesPo: Paris), he received a grant from the Alliance Initiative at Columbia University to conduct doctoral workshops in New York City and Paris with students from both universities.
In October, Lance Freeman will be the keynote speaker for the 2017 Salve Regina University Annual Cultural and Historic Preservation Conference with the theme, “Gentrification & Preservation: A Reappraisal.”
This summer, Justin Moore will be a panelist for the National Congress for New Urbanism Conference (CNU) in Seattle on the topic of “Diversifying Urban Design.” There he will discuss the lack of diversity in the fields of urban policy, planning, and design. Justin will also be a panelist at the APA Conference in NYC in May sharing his work on the APA’s first international technical assistance project for a waterfront neighborhood in Belize City, Belize. The final report can be read here. During the APA conference he will be on a panel with other heads of public design agencies in Seattle and San Francisco regarding the role of design in taking on big urban issues such as equity and sustainability. This summer Justin is also doing “unconference” sessions with community leaders in the Bronx, one of which is organized by a group of black urban planners and designers from across the US. This session will be on social and racial equity in urban planning and design with Shin-pei Tsay from the Gehl Institute and James Rojas of Place It!
Kian Tajbakhsh was an invited participant for the University-in-Exile for Syrian Scholars Initiative convened by the Institute of International Education (IIE), and was an invited guest to the IIE Annual Gala in which awards were presented to displaced students and scholars. In November, he was also an invited Speaker at The New School Conference on Academic Freedom. At the Sixth Annual Symposium led by students of the Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture Program (CCCP) at Columbia University’s GSAPP, Kian presented a talk titled, “Who Will Destabilize the Destabilizers?”. Prof Kian Tajbakhsh is currently engaged in three writing projects based on which he presented three presentations; one as part of a Lectures in Planning Series (LiPS) talk, a lunch time talk at the Committee on Global Thought, and he was invited to deliver the 39th Thomas Merton Memorial Lecture titled “Creative Solitude” based on experiences that will be part of a memoir of his experiences in Iran.
Studio Professors Jose Vallejo and Belinda Tato, Principles of Madrid and Boston-based Ecosistema Urbano, were recently selected from a pool of over 40 international teams for the Shore to Core waterfront design competition. Ecosistema Urbano’s winning design answers Shore to Core’s call for a comprehensive, forward-thinking urban plan to make West Palm Beach’s waterfront a year-round destination for locals and visitors alike. The proposal includes what could be the first public bioclimatic domes in the U.S. These domes create climatically comfortable spaces 365 days a year, thereby supporting a more socially cohesive city.
Weiping Wu was an invited speaker at the International Conference on The Transformation and Impact of the Chinese Urban Economy at the University of Albany in April, and gave a lecture on “China’s Urban Transformation” at Columbia’s Committee on Global Thought. She was invited to become a faculty member in Columbia’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute. In late May, she will be a keynote speaker on the future of planning education at Tongji University’s 110-Year Celebration in Shanghai (China), and will be a speaker and mentor at the UrbanactionsHK: An International Symposium and Workshop hosted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In June, she will speak in a plenary session at the Urban China Research Network’s Shanghai conference on “Incomplete Urbanization,” give a keynote speech on “Contradictions and Prospects in China’s Urbanization” at the annual conference of the International Association of China Planning, and speak in a workshop on Community Planning in China held in Singapore.
In February, the UP program held its second annual career week. Students attended a wide range of sessions and workshops to learn how to navigate the job market (led by Weiping Wu, Program Director, and Lee Miller, Adjunct Professor and Managing Director of the Advanced Human Resources), network effectively (led by Francesca Fanelli from Arch/UD Career Services), prepare for the AICP exam (led by Alex Wallach, M.S. UP ‘12, Vice President of Professional Development of the APA NY Metro Chapter), and put together a professional portfolio (led by Leah Meisterlin, M.S. UP ‘06 & M.S. Arch ‘09, Professor). We welcomed back alumni to speak on two career panels: “Working in Public and Private Sectors” and “Working in Third Sector and Global Practices.” Many alums also joined current students for a speed networking evening at Bernheim and Schwartz.
The week concluded with the career fair on the fourth floor of Avery Hall, where students were able to meet one-on-one with top employers in the New York City area. This year we hosted representatives from 3x3 Design, AKRF, BFJ Planning, BuroHappold Engineering, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Emergency Management, NYC Housing Preservation and Development, the New York Times, and Sam Schwartz Engineering. The career week and fair will be annual occurrences from now on.
Chris Giamarino ‘17
Spring 2017 Internship at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
From February 2016 to March 2017, Chris interned as the Active Design Intern for the NYC department of Mental Health and Hygiene’s 'Healthy Living by Design’ unit. There he worked on myriad planning, place making, healthy living, and built environment design initiatives. He also had the opportunity to work on Mayor DeBlasio’s OneNYC Water Fountain Sustainability Task Force. He created the first ever inter-agency, collaborative map in New York City history which showed vulnerable communities based on a healthy living index (i.e., percent in poverty, percent getting no exercise in the past 30 days, number of sugary beverages per day, etc.) and directed capital funding to construct water drinking fountains with bottle fillers at indoor and outdoor public locations. He also helped with public art mural projects in the South Bronx as beautification and place-making initiatives to beautify step streets and encourage communities with a lack of green space/recreational space to exercise and spend more time outside. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the unit’s focus on design and community engagement allowed him to utilize his second language (Spanish) and to establish relationships with local residents while improving design skills through various software applications.
Ying Huang ‘17
Spring 2017 Internship at Collective for Community, Culture, & Environment
Ying is grateful for her internship opportunity and has learned a lot about the systems in the United States and how they affect the physical space and people’s lives in a community. She enjoyed using what she learned in school to help communities improve their lives. By engaging with community members and gathering their ideas and vision for their community, Ying learned that public participation is really important in the planning process. It is necessary for planners to listen to the community and after great consideration, give suggestions for a way forward.
Rebecca Noble '18
Summer 2017 Internship with RISE: NYC
Rebecca will be providing project support for RISE: NYC, a $30 million Super Storm Sandy business recovery and resiliency program that connects small businesses with technology providers to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. She will be in charge of managing the small business enrollment process as a business advisor and data manager.
Summer 2017 Internship with MKThink
James has been granted a Summer Design Fellowship from San Francisco-based design and research firm MKThink. As part of the fellowship, James will spend half the summer as an intern assisting with MKThink’s current design projects. Additionally, he will spend half his time working on an independent supervised research and design project, using GIS and other tools to study health and the built environment.
Ramya Ramanathan '18
Summer 2017 Internship with 100 Resilient Cities
As an architect and an aspiring urban planner, Ramya Ramanathan is thrilled to be a part of an organization working towards the goal of 100 Resilient Cities. During the summer internship she will be working with the networks team and coordinating with Chief Resilience Officers (CROs) in partner cities and learning about the various urban issues around the world. The team will research and formulate plans for these cities as well as host a global summit in New York City in July.
Jacquelyne Sunwoo '17
Spring 2017 Internship at NYC Department of Transportation
Jacquelyn acknowledges what a great privilege it was to go back to her previous workplace and participate in an initiative that she deems so crucial in cities. Jacquelyn truly believes that governments must take civic responsibility in giving people the correct information, thereby providing opportunities for empowerment. This belief became stronger through the help of her supervisor, who strongly pushed for a change of attitude towards public servants to be more transparent and proactive within communities. It is her hope that this experience, which provided her with ample insight into government politics and civic responsibilities, can be utilized in future work as a planner.
Kaiqi Zhang '18
Summer Internship at ARUP
As an urban planner concentrated on transportation, Kaiqi feels fortunate to receive an offer for a 2017 transportation planner summer internship at Arup. Arup is an engineering and design consultant company headquartered in London, UK, and has completed a number of well-known projects such as the Beijing National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest) in China, the London Eye in the UK, and the Second Avenue Subway in NYC.
Nausheen Anwar, M.S. UP ‘08, had her book, Infrastructure Redux: Crisis, Progress in Industrial Pakistan & Beyond, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. Nausheen is currently working on a new project, “Climate Adaptation, Land Acquisition and Security: the Gendered Politics of Dispossession in Pakistan,” that has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), United Kingdom. This project examines the politics of mega-infrastructural projects through Chinese investments, and the differentiated experiences of emplacement and dispossession.
Joshua Benson, AICP, M.S. UP ‘06, was appointed Deputy Commissioner for Traffic Operations at the New York City Department of Transportation in January 2017. In this role, Joshua oversees the operation and maintenance of over 13,000 traffic signals, 300,000 street lights, 85,000 metered on-street parking spaces, 39 municipal parking lots and garages, and more than 600 red light, speed, and bus lane enforcement cameras. Joshua also leads the development of new traffic safety programs and technologies including accessible pedestrian signals, a Connected Vehicle pilot project, and new street lighting initiatives.
Pete Harrison, M.S. UP ’13, has launched his startup homeBody, which is an app that simplifies and tracks interactions for landlords and tenants. Beta testing with NYC landlords and property management companies has begun.
Dan Hewes, M.S. UP ‘15, is Project Development Coordinator for the Gowanus Bay Terminal (GBX) in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Dan Hewes is bringing his first year UP studio (2014) to life on this waterfront site. A truly unique 46 acre gem on the Brooklyn waterfront, GBX is home to the historic Red Hook Grain Terminal and a number of maritime vessels. Dan encourages students and fellow alumni to get in touch if they are interested in visiting the site or have their own ideas of sustainability, waterfront design and historic preservation.
Milagros Leucoma, M.S. UP ‘11, is running for Mayor of White Plains, NY.
Christie Marcella, M.S. UP ‘06, was promoted to the role of Economic Development Manager for Carlsbad, CA, a Southern California coastal city which is home to LEGOLAND California as well as corporate headquarters for global companies like ViaSat and Ionis Pharmaceuticals. The division focuses on strengthening its high-tech clusters and manages a talent attraction brand, Life in Action which helps companies find the talent they need to grow. The city is also part of the Innovate 78 regional collaboration of North County San Diego cities, coordinating with neighboring cities to create sustained growth and prosperity. Christie is interested in hearing from any GSAPP alumni who may be in the Southern California region.
Victoria Okoye, M.S. UP '10, will be presenting at the APA conference in the session “Implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.” Over the past seven years, she has worked on an urban transport project, then a USAID-funded water, sanitation and hygiene project; and over the past two years, she has found her niche working on, researching and writing on urban informality in West African cities. She would love to hear from current or former GSAPP students and looks forward to networking while she is here for the conference.
Houman Saberi, M.S. UP ‘15, joined the Resilient Communities program at the New America Foundation in April 2016. As Program Manager, he focuses on the programmatic and operational aspects of implementing resilient networks for RISE:NYC, a $4.2 million project funded by HUD via NYCEDC to build resilient wireless communication infrastructure in six Sandy-impacted communities across the city. RISE:NYC also involves training local residents on the technical skills needed to build and manage the networks, in addition to community organizing and outreach skills. Resilient Communities Director Greta Byrum, M.S. UP ’11, and Houman will be at the APA annual conference this year to receive the Technology Division’s Smart City Award for their work on Resilient Networks for RISE:NYC. For more information on this project, please check out this NextCity article.
Sonal Shah, M.S. UP '08, wrote an article titled, “Beyond the Women-Only Train Car: Gender and Sustainable Transport.”
Michael Snidal, M.S. UP '12, wrote an articled in the Baltimore Sun titled, “Pugh must turn transition report into a comprehensive plan.”
Maxwell Sokol, AICP, M.S. UP ‘12, as President of the American Planning Association (APA) New York Metro Chapter, Maxwell Sokol has the honor of representing more than 1,000 planners in the 14-county region by serving on the Chapter Presidents Council (CPC). The CPC, which consists of the Presidents of all 47 APA Chapters, will be convening at the APA National Conference in May, where Maxwell is an active member of the CPC Presidents Leadership Committee. Additionally, during the upcoming National Conference, he will be participating in three sessions that highlight his work at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff as well as his role in the APA - (1) Maxwell will be co-leading a mobile workshop about sustainable suburban development on Long Island; (2) he will be moderating a panel discussion about multi-modal transportation solutions on Long Island; and (3) he will be speaking on a panel to share the successes of our APA Chapter’s Young Planners Group.
Michelle Young, M.S. UP '12, wrote an article in the magazine Metropolis titled, “Trump Got Millions to Make His Tower “Public”—Let’s Remind Him What That Means.”
In addition, the following alumni will be presenting at the National APA Conference in NYC this week: Tom Basset, M.S. UP '09, has a talk on May 9 at 9:30 a.m. titled “Complete Streets Arrive in LA;” Inbar Kishoni, M.S. UP '09, will be moderating a panel on May 8 at 7:30 a.m. titled “Participatory Planning in Health and Transportation;” Matthew Roe, M.S. UP '08, and Ted Wright, M.S. UP '02, will present a talk on May 7 at 8 a.m. titled “Designing Streets for Transit-Based Neighborhoods;” Ted Wright will also host a Workshop and Orientation Tour on May 9 at 9 a.m. “Bike Manhattan; Safe, Quick and Protected;” and Alex Wallach, M.S. UP '12, will be on a panel on May 8 at 2:45 p.m. titled “Becoming AICP - Advice from Recently Credentialed Members Discussion.”