Spring 2018 Urban Planning Semester in Review
From the Director

Spring 2018 has gone down in the books as perhaps the snowiest semester. Having caused multiple campus closings, the nor’easters also raised the urgency with which we must embrace challenges of climate change and natural disasters. A current studio project is doing just that. Led by Ethel Sheffer and Graham Trelstad, and working with NYC Emergency Management, the students have been imagining community strategies for hazard mitigation in Gowanus, Brooklyn. A new, spring practicum course, taught by Ebru Gencer, surveyed global practices in risk reduction and resilience. A group of students from that class is completing a research report comparing planning responses to disasters in Japan and Turkey, partially based on site visits funded by the Ito Foundation.

In Fall 2018, two new electives will continue to add to our offerings in this direction: one is Resilient Urban Systems: Practicum on Transit (by Thaddeus Pawlowski) and another is Introduction to Environmental Analysis (Peter Marcotullio). The latter also marks the beginning of applying analytics in substantive areas of planning, a direction that will be the focus of our growth in urban analytics.

Recently, we completed an exciting admissions season. Applications rose by more than 30 percent from last year, amid the successful transition to an online platform (finally, into the 21st century). Pouring over hundreds of them, our faculty were truly impressed by their preparation and diversity. With a more aggressive financial aid strategy that is a blend of merit and need based, we were successful in putting together a very strong incoming class of 2020. I can’t wait to meet them all. Our current students were the best ambassadors for the program, connecting with prospective students through emails, Google Group, and face-to-face conversations. Some UP alums also played an instrumental role in helping connect with applicants from far-flung locations. With this growing momentum, I hope to continue to position our program at the forefront of planning education that prepares our graduates for emerging roles, as change agents with new knowledge bases and skills.

The UP reception at the annual conference of the American Planning Association in New Orleans was a wonderful gathering of more than 20 current students and many UP (and GSAPP) alums (and friends). The sense of community among us was evident. The conference also offered a valuable venue for learning and networking for students. I am already looking forward to San Francisco, the next site of the APA annual conference, to connect with even more members of the UP community.

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 on the evening of Saturday, May 12th and last for about a week. I hope you will come and see their work.

My best,


Program Updates
VizTech: Converging Pedagogies + Practices Panel

Over the past year or so, we have worked on bolstering our Urban Analytics concentration. In February, full-time and adjunct urban planning faculties, as well as current and former students, participated in the school-wide forum, VizTech: Converging Pedagogies + Practices. At the forum, they discussed opportunities for merging the Visual Studies and Technology curriculum across GSAPP. Panelists attending the forum found that the intersection and blurring of the digital and the physical have provided our disciplines with opportunities to re-assess our tools and craft. Our commitment to the Urban Analytics concentration is reflected in the expanded offerings. In Fall 2017, we included five courses in the Urban Analytics concentration. Next fall, we will be including eight courses. We are proud to be one of the first few planning schools in the nation to offer a robust Urban Analytics concentration.

We are also excited to welcome new adjunct faculty Purnima Kapur, Executive Director of the New York City Department of City Planning, who will be co-teaching a new class titled, “Genesis and Development of Zoning,” with Douglas Woodward. Kapur began her career at the Department of City Planning in 1989 and had risen through the ranks to lead the Bronx and Brooklyn offices where she developed and oversaw some 40 department-initiated area-wide rezonings. As Director of the Bronx Office, Kapur oversaw the largest rezoning effort in the borough’s history. She led initiatives to foster housing and economic development in neighborhoods such as Port Morris and Morrisania.

For Fall 2018, we are introducing a set of new courses, including:

  • Genesis and Development of Zoning (Douglas Woodward and Purnima Kapur) provides a comprehensive introduction to the history, theory, and practice of zoning with a particular emphasis on the use of zoning as a planning and regulatory tool in dense urban environments like New York City. The goal of the course will be to provide students with both a thorough grounding in the theory of zoning and the practical tools needed to work with zoning regulations in the urban planning context. Kapur is Executive Director of New York City Department of City Planning (DCP).

  • Introduction to Environmental Analysis (Peter Marcotullio) offers a combination of lectures and work with analytical methods/tools as an introduction to urban environmental analytics. The Fall 2018 semester focuses on urban energy, and the analytical aspects include assessing past trends, projecting futures and/or economic cost analysis for policy.

  • Introduction to Urban Data and Informatics provides students with an introduction to the technical, theoretical and practice-based dimensions of urban analytics. It is centered around data acquisition, numerical analysis, spatialization, visualization and interaction, and civic technologies.

  • Politics of Community Planning and Participation (Ethel Sheffer) examines the tension between local interests and the broader interests of the city as a whole. It explores the central issue of democratic participation in the planning process, through specific examples of local and regional land use conflicts.

  • Resilient Urban Systems: Practicum on Transit (Thaddeus Pawlowski) will study proposed transit systems in Amman, Cali, Semarang and Thessaloniki. Students will explore issues of regional planning, urban design, technology, and the social, political, economic, and physical complexity of bringing a new transit system into existence within a dynamic environment subject to climate change, shifting demographics, and widening inequalities.

  • Sustainable Urban Planning and Design (Jonathan Martin) introduces advanced techniques of sustainable planning and design with an emphasis on regulations that support green building practices and promote sustainable development patterns. Attention is given to the history, development and incidence of a variety of progressive planning and design techniques.

Faculty Updates

Hiba Bou Akar’s book, For the War Yet to Come: Planning Beirut’s Frontiers, will be released by Stanford University Press in August 2018. For the War Yet to Come examines urban planning in three neighborhoods of Beirut’s southeastern peripheries, revealing how these areas have been developed into frontiers of a continuing sectarian order. Hiba argues these neighborhoods are arranged, not in the expectation of a bright future, but according to the logic of “the war yet to come”: urban planning plays on fears and differences, rumors of war, and paramilitary strategies to organize everyday life. As she shows, war in times of peace is not fought with tanks, artillery, and rifles, but involves a more mundane territorial contest for land and apartment sales, zoning and planning regulations, and infrastructure projects.

Robert Beauregard’s Cities in an Urban Age: A Dissent was recently published by the University of Chicago Press. In it, he explores the ways in which cities of the United States experience the simultaneous presence of wealth and poverty, environmental destruction and sustainability, oligarchy and democracy, and intolerance and tolerance. The book was featured at a panel at the Urban Affairs Association meetings in Toronto in April. At the same conference, a panel was held to discuss Robert’s work on neighborhood development, planning, and the built environment. Lastly, with Professor Laura Lieto of the University of Naples (Italy), he published a chapter in Thomas Sanchez’s Planning Knowledge and Research (Routledge) titled Towards an Object-Oriented Case Methodology for Planners.

This February, during the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) launched The Handbook for Local Government Leaders: How to Make Cities More Resilient, authored by Ebru Gencer, who is the Chair of the Urban Planning Advisory Group to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, for Disaster Risk Reduction. Later in February, Ebru addressed the 2018 World Youth Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on the importance of stakeholder involvement for the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In March, Ebru attended the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Cities Conference in Canada and discussed the interlinkages of global frameworks and how they can translate into local action for climate resilient development. During IPCC Cities, the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) launched its Second Assessment Report on Climate Change and Cities, where Ebru is one of the coordinating lead authors. This May, Ebru, together with Program Director Weiping Wu and three graduate students attending her course, Practicum: Global Practices in Risk Reduction and Resilience, will visit Japan and learn about risk reduction practices following the Great-Hanshin Earthquake, including with visits to Kobe Municipality and the International Recovery Platform and academic exchanges with three universities.

Maxine Griffith, AICP, became a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP) during the 2018 Induction Ceremony in New Orleans on April 22nd, 2018. Election to Fellow is one of the highest honors that the American Institute of Certified Planners bestows upon a member. Fellows of AICP are honored in recognition of the achievements of the planner as an individual, elevating the Fellow before the public and the profession as a model planner who has made significant contributions to planning and society. Fellowship is granted to planners who have been members of AICP and have achieved excellence in professional practice, teaching and mentoring, research, public and community service, and leadership. Those chosen become members of the College of Fellows.

In January, Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, was elected to a four-year term as a member of the American Planning Association’s AICP Commission, the eight-member governing body of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He now serves as the Chair of the organization’s Community Assistance Planning Services Committee. In his role as Executive Director of the NYC Public Design Commission, he recently served as a member of the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, leading the removal of the controversial J. Marian Sims monument in Central Park, and launched a new guide for the design of affordable housing, Designing New York: Quality Affordable Housing. In February, Justin delivered the Eero Saarinen Lecture at the Yale School of Architecture, “Urban Fields and Design Tools,” and in March he presented at an international conference on urban development in the age of climate change and the Anthropocene at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. As a member of the NYC-based collective of black urbanists, BlackSpace, Justin helped organize “Spaces and Places: Community-Led Initiatives” in New Orleans and worked to secure a $25,000 grant from the J. M. Kaplan Fund to community-centered heritage conservation, planning and design initiatives in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

This semester, Leah Meisterlin (re)launched the Advanced Spatial Analysis course as a hybrid lecture-seminar-workshop on spatial data methodologies and was once again delighted with the engaged discussion in the Digital Restructuring of Urban Space seminar. She mentored a four-day workshop on humanitarian data visualization in Amman, Jordan, where she also gave two talks. She delivered a paper at the Center for Spatial Research’s day-long Ways of Knowing Cities conference on distance-based cartographic epistemologies and another on their equity implications at the annual conference of the American Association of Geographers. Both of these papers stem from her current research on critical GIS and time-geography to describe differential experiences of urban distance. She has a recent article in Planning Perspectives and soon-forthcoming pieces in ARPA Journal and The Avery Review. Leah is wrapping up the spring with upcoming lectures across time: One on methods of critical GIS from historical analysis at Dartmouth College and another on emerging urbanisms of “innovation” at the Centre for the Future of Places at the KTH in Stockholm, Sweden.

Andrea Rizvi co-authored a paper with Kathryn Owens, and Sumila Gulyani titled, Success when we deemed it failure? Revisiting sites and services project in Mumbai and Chennai 20 years later. The paper re-examines the largely abandoned ‘sites and services’ approach, discovering new evidence in India that demonstrates that these projects were largely successful over the long term. Two decades later, many of the sites had transformed into bustling and thriving communities. The lessons extracted from these projects offer valuable lessons and insights for planners as they guide growth to create more inclusive and livable cities. The article was published in the World Development (106) issue.

Jose Luis Vallejo was the keynote speaker at the Milano Architecture Week 2018 (Milano, Italy), and gave lectures at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Tecnológico de Monterrey University in Hermosillo (Mexico) and the Norman Foster Foundation in Madrid. Currently, his practice Ecosistema Urbano is developing urban regeneration projects in United States, Spain, Paraguay, Mexico and Bangladesh and his work was part of the exhibition “Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute” held at the Chicago Art Institute.

After more than three years, Weiping Wu has completed the editorship (together with Mark Frazier of the New School) of an ambitious scholarship: a two-volume, 58-chapter The SAGE Handbook of Contemporary China, to be published in August. This handbook is anchored in one of the largest and most productive subfields of China Studies, the social sciences. Intended to provide an in-depth understanding of China’s contemporary development, it draws on the work of many scholars, to showcase the best work representative of the field and to point to possible future scholarly development. Contributors come from every major region where China Studies prospers: North America, Europe, Oceania, East Asia (including China), and Southeast Asia. The key parts of the handbook include economic transformations, politics and government, China on the global stage, China’s foreign policy, national and nested identities, urbanization and spatial development, poverty and inequality, and social change. She also has completed the first year in Columbia’s Provost Leadership Fellows program.

Career Services

In February, the UP program held its third annual career week. Students attended a range of sessions and workshops to learn how to navigate the job market (led by Lee Miller, Adjunct Professor and Managing Director of the Advanced Human Resources), succeed in interviews (led by Sarah Dunn, Chief Talent Officer at HR&A), gain LEED certification (led by Whitney Smith, Director of Sustainable Services at Cosentini Associates), and build a strong online profile LinkedIn (led by Margaret Wiryaman, Program Manager). We also welcomed back alumni working in both the public and private sectors to speak on a career panel. The Urban China Network also organized a panel featuring international alumni who are working locally where they shared valuable insight on the job search process. Stepping outside of Avery Hall, students visited AKRF to learn about private consulting firms.

The career week concluded with the career fair and the alumni networking evening. This year we hosted the career fair at the Faculty House, where students were able to meet one-on-one with top employers in the New York City area. We hosted representatives from 3x3 Design, AKRF, BuroHappold Engineering, Municipal Art Society of New York, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Emergency Management, Regional Plan Association, and Sam Schwartz Engineering. The alumni networking evening was also held at the Faculty House, where students in a speed networking format spoke to alumni about their work experiences since graduating from the program.

Last fall, we launched the pilot alumni mentorship program. Ten students were matched with alumni based on their career goals and areas of interest. Participating students say this of the program:

  • Rebecca Noble (M.S. UP ‘18): “I would highly recommend the mentorship program to students. My mentor, Heather Roiter (M.S. UP ‘07), is currently the Director of Hazard Mitigation at the NYC Office of Emergency Management. I knew I wanted to work for city government and she had helpful advice about my job search. It was great to talk to someone who went through the program, understood my degree and aspirations, and could speak candidly about the job market in NYC.”

  • Justin Romeo (M.S. UP ‘18): “My mentor, Judy Chang (M.S. UP ‘12), works at the NYC Department of Transportation as a Senior Project Manager. Judy has been helpful in my understanding of the complex world of NYC planning and government. We have had some great conversations about the development of my career but also fond memories of her time at Columbia. I would definitely recommend that all who has the chance to take advantage of this program.”

  • Avery Dement (M.S. UP ‘18): “I would highly recommend participating in the mentorship program. My mentor, Josh Saal (M.S. UP ‘13), is a Senior Predevelopment Planner at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development. In our monthly discussions, he offered guidance on determining where I wanted to work and how to find a job after graduation.”

With the positive feedback that we received about the program, we look to open this program to all second-year students in the fall. Finally, to improve our career services, we have also recently migrated to Engage, a new career services platform. Engage enables students to apply directly for jobs and create online job profiles all through a single platform. Starting in the fall, alumni will also have access to Engage.

Planning Studios
First-year students participated in six studios in Spring 2018. Of the six, three are international studios that traveled in March to Hong Kong; Wenzhou, China; and Genoa, Italy. The other three studios worked with local clients including the NYC Department of City Planning and Brooklyn & Queens Borough Offices; the Regional Plan Association; and NYC Emergency Management.
Thesis Research and Travel

Seventeen second-year students received travel stipends to conduct thesis research and attend planning conferences both domestically and internationally. Featured below are some reflections on their travel.

Maria Garces (M.S. UP ‘18) explored the post-disaster reconstruction efforts in Chile for her thesis. She visited two sites, Santa Olga and Pelluhue. Both sites were severely damaged by the February 2017 wildfires and the 2010 earthquake respectively. The trip enabled her to interview key stakeholders who participated in each stage of the reconstruction process. Through the trip, Maria learned planning lessons that could be applied to future disaster events. She would like to thank the program for providing her with the opportunity to travel, which made the research process all the more rewarding.

Tatiana Marie Kopelman (M.S. UP/MIA ‘18) explored the way Mexico City’s efforts to reduce gender-based violence in the public realm have provided safer environments for women. As part of her thesis, she traveled to Mexico City to interview female public transit users. In Mexico City, Tatiana also visited public spaces and experienced first-hand the environments created through different programmatic approaches. Finally, she visited the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico where she met with scholars and interviewed them on their experience with researching gender-based violence in the local context.

For her thesis, Hui Liu (M.S. UP ‘18) studied the urban village residents’ level of attachment to their homes. On her trip to China, she surveyed and interviewed residents of Zhu Village in Guangzhou. She studied the difference in the level of attachment held by both the local villagers and migrants. The data collected formed the basis of her quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Rebecca Noble (M.S. UP ‘18) interviewed cemetery managers and death-industry scholars in London and York as part of her thesis research which examined aging urban burial spaces. Though Rebecca’s work primarily focuses on American cemeteries, she positions her research in the context of the broader trends in burial space policies and limits. The challenges that America’s burial spaces are encountering are less advanced than those in the United Kingdom, and analyzing the strategies deployed there can be instructive in guiding America’s intervention framework. Experiencing the differences between these places first-hand informed Rebecca’s work and helped her better contextualize the unique local characteristics of otherwise similar burial spaces.

Ramya Ramanathan (M.S. UP ‘18) researched the possibilities of repurposing abandoned residential infrastructure in New York City to curb homelessness for her thesis. She looked into existing policy frameworks on housing for the homeless and use of vacant infrastructure in the city. Her findings relied on extensive interviews conducted with government officials and organizations working towards alleviating homelessness in the city. With the support of the program, Ramya visited Los Angeles and Santa Ana in California. The travel stipend allowed Ramya to extend her research to other cities facing a comparable housing crisis. Her travel also provided an opportunity for her to interact with experts in the field of housing and homelessness in the West Coast. She also gained their insights on housing for the homeless. Ramya derived her recommendations from her interactions with professionals in Los Angeles. Her thesis recommends policy proposals that Los Angeles and New York should consider.

In December 2017, Justin Alan Romeo (M.S. UP ‘18) traveled to Shenzhen, China to attend the opening ceremony of the “Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture: Cities, Grow in Difference,” an exhibition which features a project that Justin had worked on over the summer. Last summer, Justin collected published works on the urban village neighborhood typology in China, which was the central theme of the Biennale. It was his first Biennale and the travel stipend provided him an opportunity to see the final result of his many late nights of work. Additionally, at the Biennale, Justin had the opportunity to meet with professionals working on similar urban issues.

Student News

Student Organizations

The Urban Planning Program Council, led by second-years Whigham Covington (M.S. UP ‘18), Nicholas Johannes (M.S. UP/M.S. RED ‘18), and Rebecca Noble (M.S. UP ‘18) and first-years Pauline Claramunt (M.S. UP ‘19), Camille Esquivel (M.S. UP/M.Arch ‘21), and Chaouki El Rassi (M.S. UP ‘19), had a busy semester. In February, the Program Council led the first student body meeting of the academic year. The Program Council, in an extremely well-attended town hall-style meeting, had a productive conversation with students on priorities that student leaders should focus on for the academic year. At the meeting, the students not only voiced their opinions but also collectively and constructively come up with solutions to improve their overall academic experience. The level of enthusiasm conveyed through the feedbacks was received positively by the urban planning program faculty. In March and April, the Program Council also hosted several planning-related social events. These events include trips to the Museum of the City of New York, Skyscraper Museum, Tenement Museum, New York City Fire Museum, New York Historical Society, and New York City Transit Museum as well as a Central Park bike tour.

The Urban China Network held its Executive Board election in April. Leading next year’s Urban China Network are President Yudi Liu (M.S. UP ‘19), Co-Vice Presidents Lu Hao (M.S. UP ‘19) and Runpeng Zhao (M.S. UP ‘19), Treasurer Chengqi Tian (M.S. UP ‘19), and Secretary Boying Li (M.S. UP ‘19). In the fall, the newly elected Executive Board will coordinate the 5th Urban China Forum.

In Spring 2018, a group of urban planning students launched a new student organization, Latin GSAPP. The organization is to function as a platform for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas about national, regional, and international planning and design issues in Latin America. The group serves to connect Latin American GSAPP students, faculties and alumni who are interested in sharing their broad and diverse cultural expressions. Latin GSAPP held their first introductory event at Miss Favela. The student organization will be hosting more events in the summer to welcome the incoming class of Architecture and Urban Design (M.S. AUD) and Real Estate Development (M.S. RED) students. We invite you to participate and get involved with the upcoming activities. For more information, you may contact Laura Postarini (M.S. UP ‘19), Pauline Claramunt (M.S. UP ‘19), Guilherme Rocha Formicki (M.S. UP ‘19), Tyrene Calvesbert (M.S. UP ‘19), or Maria Garces (M.S. UP ‘18).

In addition to the student group-led activities, UP students are also making early moves to integrate themselves into the professional planning world by attending conferences and participating in tours. In February, students participated in the tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard hosted by the APA Student Chapter. In March, students attended the “Health Equity: Shaping Just Societies” event where they heard from panelists that are addressing health equity through urban planning and public health practices. At the “Data Science Day,” held at Columbia University in March, students heard from researchers who are presenting their latest work in data science. In April, students attended the RPA Assembly where they heard from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy. Also, in April, transit-minded students participated in the TDC-MIT Transportation and Infrastructure Summit.

M.S. UP Students

After focusing on transportation planning during his time at GSAPP, Mohammed AlKhalifa (M.S. UP ‘18) will be working for the Ministry of Transportation in Bahrain starting August 2018.

Eddy Almonte (M.S. UP ‘19) was selected as a Morgan Stanley Community Development Graduate Fellow for the 2018-2019 academic year. Through the fellowship, he will be working with Ascendant Neighborhood Development in East Harlem. During the summer, Eddy will be working as a research assistant at the Temple Hoyne Buell Center.

This summer, Tyrene Calvesbert (M.S. UP ‘19) will start a research project that aims to document, map and gather stories from local communities impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The project takes place at Yabucoa where the hurricane first made landfall and left many residents in unlivable conditions. Furthermore, Tyrene is also collaborating with Marcelo López-Dinardi (M.S. CCCP ‘13) on a project called “Spatializing Debt: A Visual Auditing.” The project examines the intersection of architecture, political economy, and city making with the logic of state-financial debt under Puerto Rico’s current status (originated pre-Hurricane Maria), by giving territorial and spatial dimension to the so-called public debt.

Pauline Claramunt (M.S. UP ‘19) will be interning over the summer at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Housing and Urban Development division within the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Department. She will be working with an interdisciplinary team to advance research related to coastal adaptation programs in urban areas in Central and South America. At the end of May, Pauline will attend the Alliance Graduate Summer School in Paris, focusing on research methods in sustainable development methods in remote sensing, network analysis, and machine learning with applications to urban planning.

Avery Dement (M.S. UP ‘18) spent this semester interning for the Manhattan Borough President’s Land Use Division, getting up close and personal with the ULURP process and gaining an understanding of the ways that politics intersect with planning. Avery was part of the Inwood team, working to analyze the rezoning proposal and its impact on the neighborhood. The position expanded her understanding of the planning process in New York City.

Eri Furusawa (M.S. UP ‘18) will be working as an Assistant Urban Designer in the Urban Design Department of NYC Department of City Planning starting in June 2018. She will be engaged in the Flood Resilience Zoning Text Update, part of DCP’s recovery activities after Hurricane Sandy, as well as the Staten Island/Bronx Special Districts Update, an initiative to enhance natural resource protection and neighborhood development in the two boroughs.

Alexander Gallo (M.S. UP ‘18) is now a Junior Project Manager/Business Analyst for the New York City Housing Authority.

Tara Heidger (M.S. UP/MIA ‘19) received a research grant from the Earth Institute’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4). Tara’s research will focus on the Rwandan government’s efforts to resettle its rural farming population into grouped settlements following the 1994 genocide. She will also examine how resources and infrastructure were, and still are, distributed across much of its impoverished agrarian population. This summer, Tara will also be interning part-time as a research assistant at the Rainforest Foundation. She will be analyzing GIS data and historical reports to advocate for land-tenure rights for indigenous communities in Guyana.

Nicholas Johannes (M.S. UP/M.S. RED ‘18) will spend his summer at the New York City Department of City Planning’s Housing, Economics and Infrastructure Planning (HEIP) division. He is also taking part in the Transit-Oriented Development Futures - Design Thinking and Computational Science summer workshop in Honolulu, Hawaii.

This summer, Alex Moscovitz (M.S. UP/MPH ‘18) will be working on a few publications including an article on urban health with Professor Malo Hutson in the Encyclopedia of Environmental Health and a manuscript for Joyce Klein Rosenthal’s Ford Foundation Fellowship funded work surrounding FEMA home acquisitions. She will also be interning for the Hudson Square BID.

Sean Nelsen (M.S. UP/MIA ‘20) is headed to Japan to assist Professor Ebru Gencer on a comparative study between risk reduction and resilience planning specifically focused on earthquake hazards. Sean will be traveling to Kobe, Kyoto, and Tokyo to participate in an academic exchange with other universities and professors specializing in planning for disaster mitigation. Directly after the research trip, Sean will travel to Paris to attend the Alliance Graduate Summer School. He will dedicate himself to exploring and applying methods in remote sensing, network analysis, and machine learning with applications to urban planning, environmental policy, and energy. He also plans to get lost in the city in search of music, food, and wine. After his travels, Sean will start his internship at the New York City Department of City Planning’s Capital Planning Division. The role is focused on using spatial analysis and data visualization to support the development and siting of the city’s capital projects. There is also a potential opportunity for some self-directed research during the internship, and if that comes to fruition, Sean would like to develop a process for siting neighborhood jails as NYC aims to decentralize and modernize its jail system. Next semester, Sean will start his semester at the School of International and Public Affairs.

Rebecca Noble (M.S. UP ‘18) has accepted a position as a Transportation and Infrastructure Specialist at the New York City Emergency Management. She will help update the city’s evacuation plan for people with disability and access and functional needs, assist in staffing the city’s emergency operations center during emergency events, and participate in training communities to prepare for emergencies.

Laura Postarini (M.S. UP ‘19) received a fellowship from The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School. This fellowship provides financial support to students engaged in summer internships that create social and environmental value. Laura is going to work as a summer intern fellow at the Public Works Studio based in Beirut, Lebanon. Public Works Studio is an organization dedicated to implementing community-centered design solutions for informal settlements in Lebanon and the greater region at the architectural and urban level. The mission of this organization is to empower citizens with tools to influence their environment.

Wesley Rhodes (M.S. UP ‘18) along with Eri Furusawa (M.S. UP ‘18) and Sean Nelsen (M.S. UP/MIA ‘20) will be extending their work in the practicum course, Global Practices in Urban Risk Reduction and Resilience, with a weeklong research trip to Japan in late May. Students in the practicum course worked collaboratively to write a paper comparing the disaster risk reduction measures taken by two cities, Istanbul and Kobe, following the earthquakes both cities experienced in the 1990s. The three students will enrich this paper through tours and interviews with Japanese planners and academics in Tokyo, Fujisawa, Kobe, and Kyoto. Professor Ebru Gencer and Program Director Professor Weiping Wu will accompany the students on this trip.

In June, Charlie Romanow (M.S. UP ‘18) will begin work as a transportation planner with WSP (formerly Parsons Brinckerhoff). The international consulting firm’s work has ranged in scale from Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, and the original construction of the New York City subway in 1904 to a bike master plan for Newark, New Jersey’s Ironbound neighborhood. Charlie will work in WSP’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office designing bike and pedestrian master plans throughout the state; attempting to reinvent the Garden State to look more like New York City.

Kaiqi Zhang (M.S. UP ‘18) has accepted a job offer from AECOM, one of the top multinational engineering companies in the US. She will start her career as a Junior Transportation Planner this summer in New York.

UP Ph.D. Students

Bernadette Baird-Zars successfully defended her dissertation proposal, titled Post-plan’ planning: how ad hoc local land use institutions shape construction under transition and uncertainty.

Cathy Hyun Hye Bae successfully defended her dissertation proposal, titled An Analysis of the Community Participation Process in New York City - Focusing on its Effectiveness, Representativeness, and Inclusiveness.

Adele Cassola successfully defended her dissertation, titled Planning for Equitable Neighborhood Change: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of 80 Cities’ Displacement Mitigation Approaches.

Magda Maaoui will present a paper on the construction of housing in postwar France at the upcoming August 2018 Royal Geographical Society conference held in the United Kingdom, titled Beavers of the banlieues: alternative narratives of affordable housing production in France. She is also looking for a few summer volunteers interested in helping out during monthly participatory workshops held by residents of the East Harlem Wagner Houses, and coordinated by the Harlem Community Justice Center. If interested, please reach out by email.

Deepa Mehta presented a paper at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG), titled Beyond Positioning and Promises: Linking Entrepreneurial Urbanism with Geographies of Capabilities and Cooperation in the Asian Context.

Michael Snidal, in January, wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun about the host of issues, many of which are planning-related, that the Baltimore City Council needs to address.

Valerie Stahl successfully defended her dissertation proposal, titled, ‘Displacement Without Displacement’: Tenant Engagement in NYCHA’s NextGeneration Neighborhoods Plan.

Jonas Hagan, Sophonie Joseph and Maiko Nishi presented their dissertation findings at the weekly Lecture in Planning Series. Jonas’ lecture was titled, “Calming New York: An Examination of Neighborhood Slow Zones.” Sophonie’s lecture was titled, “Urbanisme in Ayiti: Diffusion, Decentralization & Disaster.” Maiko’s lecture was titled, “Governing Agricultural Land in Japan: Adoption of the Farmland Bank Program in a Hilled Rural Community.”

Jenna Dublin, Elizabeth Marcello, and Rosalie Ray all successfully passed their sector exams; now they will begin working on their dissertation proposal.

Bernadette Baird-Zars, Lauren Fischer, and Valerie Stahl are moving forward with their co-edited book with Elliott Sclar, titled Zoning: A Guide for 21st Century Planning (Routledge 2019), that will include chapters authored by Siobhan Watson, Adele Cassola, Rosalie Ray, and contributions by Jenna Dublin, Magda Maaoui and others in the department. All are welcome to attend the day-long workshop and conference with contributors on June 28th to 29th.

Tyler Haupert, Magda Maaoui, Elizabeth Marcello, and Michael Snidal took part in the Columbia-Sciences Po Alliance workshop, “The Matter of Cities,” held in Paris in October 2017.

Alumni Updates
On April 21st, GSAPP held a networking reception in the Hilton New Orleans Riverside to kick off the American Planning Association’s 2018 National Planning Conference. At the event, UP alumni met and reconnected with current students and faculty. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s APA National Planning Conference in San Francisco. Be on the lookout for an alumni reception invitation next spring.

This past year, Naomi Hersson-Ringskog (M.S. UP ‘09) participated in the GSAPP Incubator program at the New Museum. Her main focus was launching Dept of Small Interventions, which focuses on the City of Newburgh, New York. The firm’s work is centered around revitalization efforts, including adaptive reuse projects while building social infrastructure and stimulating cultural tourism. For the upcoming year, she hopes that many UP alumni will apply to the GSAPP Incubator.

The startup Andrew Lassiter (M.S. UP ‘16) helped get off the ground, Localize.city, just launched in April 2018. Localize.city attempts to tell you what it’s like to live somewhere - demystifying reams of public data and policy in balance with qualitative research.

Cuthbert A. Onikute (M.S. UP ‘13)’s Dechets a l’Or, a social venture that brings solid waste management to fast-growing cities in Africa, recently won the MassChallenge Switzerland Gold award. Additionally, it won the top prize at the Guinean Technology week. Dechets a l’Or currently serves around 700 households in Kankan, Guinea and is working to expand to two additional cities serving over 5,000 people by the end of 2019. Onikute is interested in working with students looking to address planning challenges in developing countries.

In December 2017, David Perlmutter (M.S. UP ‘15) was awarded the Emerging Leaders in Transportation Fellowship from the Rudin Center at NYU.

After a long stint as Director of the Atlantic Avenue BID in Brooklyn, Josef Szende (M.S. UP ‘10) joined the New York City Department of Transportation.