Spring 2019 Urban Planning Semester in Review
From the Director

Happy Spring!

As we wrap up another packed semester, I am excited about a very strong incoming class who will join the program in September and several new courses to be launched then. You can read about these courses in the Program Updates Section (for all other courses, see the 2019 UP Program Booklet). One particular shout-out to our first experiential learning course (aside from studios), titled Community Outreach and Engagement: A Harlem Practicum. It will provide students with an opportunity to actively participate in the community engagement process, guided by a set of lectures, readings, and case studies. There will be three projects in Fall 2019: cloud enhanced open software-defined mobile-wireless testbed for city-scaled deployment COSMOS, post-incarceration re-entry plan for West Harlem, and Community Promises Kept.

In addition to this new connection, we are collaborating with the Double Discovery Center (DDC) at Columbia to help underserved community youth to get into and graduate from college. This summer two UP doctoral students will be teaching a DDC Introduction to Urban Planning Course: Urban Planners and Communities Working for a Just City. With this in mind, all of us can do more to help spread the words of the great work planners do – we need the younger generations to know what planning is about so that many of them will join us in the future.

To continue the momentum we have built, faculty and students have been engaged in strategic envisioning for our M.S. UP program during this academic year. Since I wrote in the Semester in Review of Fall 2018 about learning outcome assessment, substantive ideas and strategies have emerged from a series of faculty focus-group meetings and student ideas competition. We now have a draft set of strategic goals in four major areas: attract diverse students, improve the transition from student to professional, enhance program identity and impact, and strengthen and expand the curriculum. Our next steps will be to take these ideas to students, alumni, and colleagues in key organizations and the New York Metro Chapter of the American Planning Association. I look forward to learning about your thoughts and suggestions.

I would be remiss if I did not mention another huge improvement completed this semester: the UP lounge/classroom/lab suite has undergone a major renovation. It is now more modern, more light-infused, and more comfortable. Please join us at the End of Year Show on Saturday, May 18. You will not be disappointed.

My best,

Program Updates

Many of you already know that Margaret Bahn (née Margaret Wiryaman), UP’s program manager, had a baby boy on April 27. She will be returning to Boston sometime in the summer to be close to her extended families. This is bittersweet. She has been a wonderful member of our community, always effective and graceful. We will miss her, and wish her the best. We are in the process of bringing in our next program manager sometime in June. Much to our delight, Anthony Vanky will continue as a visiting assistant professor, teaching a number of courses in urban analytics. Ryan Devlin, in addition, will join us as a visiting assistant professor the next academic year, teaching the core Planning History and Theory course and others. With a doctorate in planning from UC Berkeley, Ryan focuses on urban informality, planning theory, and comparative urbanism. We also are excited to welcome several new adjunct faculty members in the Fall: Clarisa Bencomo, former Program Officer for Migration and Global Grants, Ford Foundation; Flores Forbes, Associate Vice President for Government and Community Affairs, Columbia University; Rebecca Karp, Principal and CEO, Karp Strategies; Victoria Mason-Ailey, Associate Vice President for Government and Community Affairs, Columbia University; Rachel Weinberger, Founding Principal, Weinberger & Associates; and Adam Weinstein, President and CEO, Phipps Houses and its affiliates.

New Courses

  • Affordable Housing in High Demand Cities – Purnima Kapur and Adam Weinstein
    This course offers an investigation into the policies and practical tools that are used to create affordable housing in New York City, the birthplace of affordable housing in the US. The course follows the evolution of affordable housing policy and practice, beginning with its origins as a purely governmental undertaking to the largest public-private partnership in New York City. Students will gain an understanding of the varied and complicated tools used by practitioners, including financing techniques, land use, tax policies, and regulation. Through a combination of primary source documents and background readings, the course will enable the emerging professional to understand how affordable housing is planned and executed, as well as some of the inherent trade-offs that attend these decisions. Students will also examine affordable housing from the standpoint of the user – the resident – and delve into the vexing issues that surround government-owned housing by examining the largest public housing authority in the US, the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA).

  • Community Outreach and Engagement: A Harlem Practicum – Maxine Griffith, Flores Forbes and Victoria Mason-Ailey
    Stakeholder relations, including community outreach and engagement, are important elements of any planning process. This course will provide students with an opportunity to actively participate in the community engagement process, guided by a set of lectures, readings, and case studies, as well as the experiences of knowledgeable practitioners. In teams, students will undertake a semester-long exchange with stakeholders around one of three university-sponsored projects. They will learn standard techniques of engagement; how to determine who truly represents a given community; how to conduct public meetings and presentations; the use of oral, graphic, written and social media tools and approaches to cope with racial, ethnic and class sensitivities. By the end of the semester students will have an understanding of the outreach and engagement process and a set of tools to undertake this process under a range of differing circumstances. Moreover, students will have helped Harlem residents to fully participate in three important initiatives and will have given the managers of these initiatives vital information about the community they serve. In Fall 2019, the three projects are: cloud enhanced open software-defined mobile-wireless testbed for city-scaled deployment COSMOS, post-incarceration re-entry plan for West Harlem, and Community Promises Kept.

  • Delivering Urban Public Infrastructure: Practicum on Industrialized Cities – Jamie Torres Springer
    Many industrialized and post-industrialized cities find themselves with severe infrastructure challenges. This practicum will examine key approaches to addressing these challenges, positioning the emerging professional to lead or work within multidisciplinary efforts to plan and deliver infrastructure in the modern industrial/post-industrial city. It will include a practical study of the planning, regulatory and legal environment for public infrastructure delivery, and will examine case studies, such as New York City’s coastal resiliency projects, the expansions of transit and transit-oriented development in London and Los Angeles, the planned investment by Sidewalk Labs in the Toronto waterfront, and the rollout of broadband and wireless technology.

  • Metropolitan Planning in the 21st Century – Tom Wright
    This course will explore strategies for planning metropolitan regions, with special focus on the institutions and issues that transcend local political boundaries, including transportation, resilience, housing and governance. Drawing on the experiences of Regional Plan Association’s four landmark plans for the New York region and national and international case studies, the course will examine the success and failure of various strategies for protecting open space, addressing the challenges of climate change, supporting economic development and affordable housing, and investing in transportation infrastructure. What models have been most successful in addressing these challenges? What new structures will be need in the face of economic and technological changes? And how will we pay for the investments necessary to create fair, sustainable and prosperous metropolitan regions in the future?

  • Project Management: From Idea to Execution – Rebecca Karp
    This practitioner-led course exposes students to fundamental project management concepts and the behavioral skills necessary to launch, lead, and actualize benefits from projects across sectors. Planners, designers, policy makers, real estate developers, and those working in adjacent industries are often in a position of leading, supporting, or influencing projects and initiatives with multiple moving pieces. Skilled project managers oversee resources, schedules, scope, risks, and both internal and external factors to deliver positive results. In this course, students explore project management with a hands-on, pragmatic approach through case studies, real exercises, and live examples. Students can expect a combination of reading and hands-on work to practice real-life skills and application to advance current and future projects, with exposure to different software programs that are commonly used by today’s practitioners. We will give special attention to controversial projects, operating in a resource-constrained environment, and “managing up” as a project manager. As a class, we will review causes of project failure and success, and risk mitigation during early project phases.

  • Prototyping for Urban Policy and Decision-Making – Kaz Sakamoto and Clara Chung
    This course teaches how to prototype for a contemporary urban issue, with an emphasis of how to use open data for evidence-based policy making. We will cover how to apply design-thinking and other strategic frameworks to breakdown urban issues, which are highly complex and entail multiple stakeholders, into defined solutions. First half of the course focuses on strategic thinking, problem definition and prototype ideation. The mid-term will be a verbal pitch and written proposal that outlines clear user need of an prototype idea, their requirements for a solution and any specific workflows. Second half will consolidate from those proposals and dive into feasibility assessment and technical implementation of a minimally viable product (MVP) which should allow for functioning user interaction and analysis workflows. The end assignment will be a demo of that prototyped solution alongside a how-to guide.

Faculty Updates

Professor Emeritus Robert Beauregard gave the keynote address at the “Governing Future Cities” conference in February in Tampere, Finland. The talk was titled “Complexity in the Urban Age.” In March, he lectured on his recent book Cities in the Urban Age: A Dissent at the University of Helsinki and also served as the opponent on a doctoral dissertation examination. In April, Professor Beauregard was a panelist at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University where he commented about the new book by Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini titled The New Arab Urban.

Adjunct Professor Kate Dunham has been invited to teach a course on zoning and the built environment at the Asian University for Women (AUW) in Chittagong, Bangladesh this summer. While there she will also be consulting on the current master plan work for the university.

In his semester away from teaching, Charlie Euchner was beginning some projects and finishing some others. He delivered a paper called “Beyond the Arena,” which describes a new model of political action, at the New England Political Science Association. He finished a draft “Losing the Peace,” a book about Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 Western Tour to promote the League of Nations. After lecturing on the topic at SUNY-Delhi, he returned to his work on a manuscript called “The Elements of Place,” describing the core principles of designing neighborhoods and places.

Lance Freeman published a new book, A Haven and a Hell: The Ghetto in Black America, through Columbia University Press in April 2019. Freeman examines how the ghetto shaped black America and black America shaped the ghetto. Freeman traces the evolving role of predominantly black neighborhoods in northern cities from the late nineteenth century through the present day. At times, the ghetto promised the freedom to build black social institutions and political power. At others, it suppressed and further stigmatized African Americans. Freeman reveals the forces that caused the ghetto’s role as haven or hell to wax and wane, spanning the Great Migration, mid-century opportunities, the eruptions of the sixties, the challenges of the seventies and eighties, and present-day issues of mass incarceration, the subprime crisis, and gentrification.

Ebru Gencer will be the keynote speaker at the Local and Regional Governments Forum organized by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the City of Geneva at Palais Eynard in Geneva during the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in May. Gencer is one of the coordinating lead authors of the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction which will be launched during the Global Platform. In January, Ebru joined the Editorial Board of Disaster Science Journal. In April, Gencer’s recent article on Participatory Planning for Inclusive and Climate Resilient Urban Development in Latin America is published in the Environment and Urbanization’s special issue on IPCC Cities. In June, Ebru will participate at the Academic-Researcher Collaborative Research Forum for Humanitarian Action at Inter Action (Washington, DC).

In addition to teaching her “Advanced Spatial Analysis” seminar, this semester Professor Leah Meisterlin piloted a new project-based seminar, “Urban Datascapes”, which explores the co-development of data analytics and visualization and urban infrastructures of data production. She delivered talks and papers on her current research at the Columbia Global Center Beijing, University of Maryland Baltimore County, American Association of Geographers annual conference in Washington DC, UC Berkeley, and the CUNY Graduate Center. At the 2019 University Commencement, she will be among this year’s recipients of the University Presidential Teaching Award.

Lee Miller was one of the six keynote speakers at the premier Inspire Speakers Series hosted by RVN TV on May 3. He spoke on “The Secret of Motivating Others to Support You and Your Ideas.”

Anthony Vanky’s imagining of a city powered by a sentient Fairy Godmother will be printed this month in the forthcoming edited book How to Run a City Like a Corporation, and Other Fables. In his chapter, he discusses through fiction the ways in which Disney incorporates surveillance technologies and artificial intelligence in the operations of their theme parks as a parable for future smart cities. With students in the “Urban Informatics II: Measuring Public Life” class, Anthony has been collaborating with New York City Parks and the Bronx River Alliance to design and implement prototypes that measure human activity and environmental conditions. Six prototypes were deployed in Shoelace and Starlight Parks in The Bronx during the Spring semester. Students in Vanky’s “Urban Mobility Workshop” had the opportunity to sit down in a private, off-the-record discussion with the acting commissioner of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission Bill Heinzen to understand in detail the current state of regulation of for-hire services including Uber and Lyft, and to discuss regulation in light of emerging transportation services.

Together with a colleague in Columbia’s School of Social Work, Weiping Wu has been awarded funding by the Weatherhead East Asia Institute (WEAI) to organize a program titled “Urbanization and China: Understanding Impacts, Projecting Future.” To be held in early October, this program will be an integral part of WEAI’s milestone year to celebrate its 70th anniversary. She is completing a two-year program as a Columbia’s Provost Leadership Fellow. During the summer, she will be a featured speaker for a GSAPP alumni event in Hong Kong on June 6 and leading a panel on the Future of Asian Cities on June 14 during the Columbia Alumni Leaders Weekend in Singapore. She also will deliver keynote speeches at the International Conference on China Urban Development in Beijing (June 28-29) and the annual conference of the Association of European Schools of Planning in Venice (July 9-13).

Career Services

The Urban Planning program expanded its “Career Week” to a full month in 2019 offering a diverse selection of professional skills workshops and networking events.

  • The first event was a Resume Workshop on January 30 taught by Adjunct Assistant Professor Kaz Sakamoto. In this session, Kaz provided strategies for using content, design, and technology to create a compelling resume and catch the attention of potential employers. The workshop ended with students trading resumes and offering feedback based on their first impressions.

  • On February 1, a group of 11 UP students visited the offices of HR&A, an industry-leading consulting firm providing services in real estate, economic development, and program design and implementation. They heard from several planning and real estate professionals about the wide range of services offered by the firm for domestic and international projects, including economic and fiscal analyses for the High Line. They also briefly caught up with M.S. UP alum Eri Furusawa (‘18), who currently works as an Analyst Fellow for the firm.

  • On February 13, UP Adjunct Associate Professor Charlie Euchner led a Cover Letter Workshop teaching students how to write a winning cover letter. Using examples from his own career and experiences with hiring, Charlie demonstrated how to write a letter that is brief and to the point, how to create focus, show value, and give the letter some narrative punch.

  • On February 15, the Urban Planning program held its fourth annual Career Fair in Faculty House. Ten employers from the public and private sectors attended to mingle with UP students: AECOM, AKRF, BuroHappold Engineering, FEMA Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, NYC Department of City Planning, NYCEDC, Philip Habib & Associates, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and STV. During the second half of the Fair, employers met selected students for one-on-one interviews for internships and full-time positions.

  • One week later, on February 22, the UP Program hosted the annual Alumni Networking Evening at Faculty House. Nine alumni working in the public, private, and non-profit sectors met with current students for a night of speed networking and reconnecting with old friends.

  • To wrap up Career Month, Assistant Professor Leah Meisterlin led a Portfolio Workshop on March 4 featuring an open, interactive critique of students’ materials.

More than 20 current UP students attended the APA’s National Planning Conference in San Francisco from April 13 to 16. GSAPP hosted an evening reception on the first night of the Conference for students, alumni, and faculty to connect. After a warm welcome from Program Director Weiping Wu and Associate Professor Malo Hutson, UP students mingled with alumni to learn about their current positions, projects, and future opportunities in the field. The diverse group of attendees represented the range of professional work open to GSAPP graduates.

Planning Studios
First-year students participated in five studios in Spring 2019. Of the five, three were travel studios allowing students to explore Madrid, Spain; Vieques, Puerto Rico; and three sites in Chile (Santiago, Talca, and Santa Olga). The other two studios worked with local clients including the Manhattan Borough President’s Office and Hudson River Park Trust.
Student Organization News

The APA Student Representatives, Camille Esquivel (M.S. UP/M.Arch ‘21) and Lorraine Liao (M.S. UP '20), were excited to help host this year’s APA End of the Year Studio Showcase at Columbia University on May 15. Students and faculty from the five participating APA NY metro schools (Hunter, Rutgers, Pratt, NYU, and Columbia) nominated one studio from each program to present in front of a panel of invited faculty. GSAPP nominated the “Pier 76: Expanding and Sustaining Hudson River Park” studio which evaluated existing conditions, assessed the barriers to redevelopment, engaged the key stakeholders, and explored future opportunities for Pier 76 in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. Additionally, this past year, the APA student representatives committee worked to introduce new events including an Urban Planning Book Club, Latte with Leaders, an information session about AICP certification, and a few social events for student networking opportunities.

Latin GSAPP hosted two academic panels and participated with GSAPP’s incubator and GSAPP student groups in several events. The “Juxtaposing Latin American Practices” panel featured three guest speakers (Janice Perlman, Benjamin Cadena, and Anna Dietzsch) and was moderated by Anna Puigjaner. The event searched for a common space where professionals and scholars from different backgrounds could share and discuss their experiences on urban issues in Latin America. The aim of the event relied on understanding what kind of contributions can different professionals make in the Latin American city. The second panel, “Academia as Critical Spatial Practices”, centered on a conversation with Juan Pablo Corvalán and Andrés Jaque. The event was an exploration that not only challenged the traditional methods of teaching and learning architecture, but also the role of the designers in the process of space production. Latin GSAPP also participated in “The Diversity Environment” event, organized by the GSAPP Incubator in conjunction with other GSAPP student groups, which focused on representation, diversity, and community building. Lastly, the group co-hosted “Across the Americas” with the GSAPP Incubator. The event brought together academics, researchers, and practitioners to discuss strategies and plans of action that can operate in multiple scales, contexts, and jurisdictions. Participants also discussed how these strategies affect ideas around professional identity and language across the continent.

Urban China Network (UCN) held its 2nd Alumni UCN Panel on March 1. Four M.S. UP alumni from both the public and private sectors came back to share their experiences with current GSAPP students, as well as participation by more than ten alumni working in China or U.S cities beyond New York. Their insights about career development have also greatly inspired UCN’s plans for future events. In April, our fellow students elected six new UCN officers for the upcoming academic year. For the first time ever, UCN has a new Communications Officer position that aims to expand the organization’s influence across Columbia. The new officers are Mingye Cheng (M.S. UP/M.S. RED ‘20, Treasurer), Yuan Gao (M.S. UP ’20, Secretary), Zhengzhe Jia (M.S. UP ‘20, Communication Officer), Shiyu Ma (M.S. UP ‘20, Vice President), Luyun Shao (M.S. UP ‘20, Vice President), and Chongyuan Wang (M.S. UP ‘20, President).

URBAN Magazine will launch its Spring 2019 issue on May 18 to coincide with the opening of the GSAPP End Of The Year Show. This issue’s theme, V I T A, honors life in the contemporary city. As urban planners we believe that the greatest invention humans have created is The City, and we strive to increase equality while creating healthier, and more livable environments where every individual feels safe and welcome. Cities can be places where human beings find inspiration, where societies are born and cultivated, and where they are able to rise from the ashes. It is through cities, and their inhabitants, that we can identify a culture´s legacy. URBAN magazine features essays, poems, graphic pieces, and a new interview section. V I T A will be the second issue edited by this academic year’s board: Tyrene Calvesbert (M.S. UP ’19), Laura Postarini (M.S. UP ’19), and Michael Montilla (M.S. UP ’19). Contributions are made by faculty, alumni, and most importantly, by students from the different programs within GSAPP. We encourage innovation in the writing format and hope that interdisciplinary collaboration continues and expands. For the 2019-20 academic year, Kirthana Sudhakar (M.S. UP '20) will serve as the Senior Content Editor, Savannah Wu (M.S. UP '20) as the Senior Design Editor, and Maya Ephrem (M.S. UP '20) as the Senior Publication Editor.

Student News

Pauline Claramunt (M.S. UP ‘19) traveled to Angola to develop research for her thesis focusing on resource extraction, resilience, and urban development. She interviewed professionals related to oil and gas extraction in Luanda and visited the city of Soyo where she developed observations and mapping as part of her fieldwork. Pauline also interviewed local urban planners in Soyo and NGOs to better understand the impact of gas-funded infrastructure and investments related to social responsibility.

Aline Estefam (M.S. UP '20) was nominated as a consultant of economic development in landmarks by the Commercial Association of São Paulo in Brazil.

In April, Guilherme Rocha Formicki (M.S. UP '19) gave a talk at the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) about his current research work. He presented his findings from his master’s thesis entitled “Upgrading favelas: funding schemes and their effects on economic opportunities, infrastructure provision, and safety” and answered questions from the audience. During winter break, Guilherme published a paper titled “Power Imbalances in Favela-Upgrading Practices in São Paulo, Brazil” in the Berkeley Planning Journal. In his piece, he talks about how upgrading affected power struggles in one selected case study in São Paulo.

Tara Heidger (M.S. UP/MIA '19) recently had an article written about her achievements by Columbia News. Heidger will graduate on May 18 with a dual master’s degree in Urban Planning and International Affairs. Tara graduated from the University of Wisconsin and then enrolled in the Army, serving in Iraq and Germany. She traveled twice to Rwanda, once for her thesis research, which was funded by the Pat Tillman Foundation, and later as a graduate research fellow at the Earth Institute’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity. Heidger is married and a mother of three.

Emily Junker (M.S. UP/HP '20) completed a fellowship with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) Research and Policy Lab. Her paper will be published as part of a report on “Cultural Heritage and Displacement in Historically African American Neighborhoods.” Emily researched a low-equity cooperative housing policy that relied on tenants to preserve the physical features, social fabric, and affordability of Harlem. She further investigated the implications of neighborhood change and proposed policy regulations on the future of this housing and its long-term residents.

In February 2019, Michael Montilla (M.S. UP '19) visited the Phoenix, Arizona area to conduct research for his thesis about the planning ramifications of self-driving vehicles. While there, he observed indications of planning actions facilitating and encouraging the use of self-driving vehicles, and measured the frequency of self-driving vehicles in Chandler, a suburb hosting the testing of these vehicles on public roads.

Tim O’Grady (M.S. UP '19) took advantage of Columbia’s focus on immersive learning to travel to two states he had never visited before. In September 2018, Tim spent a week in Montgomery, Alabama visiting cultural sites and surveying historic resources for the Urban Planning and Historic Preservation joint advanced studio. The students’ final report included several recommendations to complement the city’s “Envision Montgomery 2040” comprehensive plan which seeks to balance “long-term preservation, revitalization and growth.“ Students presented their findings and proposals to the World Monuments Fund in May 2019. Tim also received a grant to travel to Los Angeles, California in January 2019 to support his thesis research about the ways in which neighborhood councils debate and influence proposed land-use and development projects. This grant enabled Tim to access primary documents in two special collections, attend several public meetings, interview five stakeholders, and try In-and-Out Burger for the first time ever.

Shiori Osakata (M.S. UP '19) finished the Community Planning fellowship program by Fund for the City of New York. She engaged in Manhattan Community Board One since last October. It was a great experience for her to learn planning issues out of school, especially in Lower Manhattan, where a lot of changes are happening. After graduation, she is planning to move to Los Angeles. Her dream since she was in high school has finally come true. She will be working at Walt Disney Imagineering as a Master Planning intern starting this June.

Anna Stokes (M.S. UP '19) has accepted a position as a Project Manager with the Northeast Corridor Commission based in their NYC office. In her new role, Anna will work on the Commission’s service and infrastructure planning projects concerning inter-city and regional passenger rail from Washington, DC to Boston, MA. Over the last semester, Anna utilized her thesis travel stipend to attend the Transforming Transportation Conference at the World Bank’s offices in Washington, DC, where she was able to connect with many scholars working on global transportation issues.

Thesis travel funds allowed Francis Yu (M.S. UP '19) to travel a total of three times to the Bay Area to conduct his case study research on a participatory budget program in Vallejo, California. Since his methodology relied on prolonged observation, this travel schedule allowed him to witness the progression of Vallejo participatory budgeting through a particular stage of the process, as well as allowed ample opportunities to meet with many different stakeholders.

Ph.D. Students

Tyler Haupert (UP Ph.D.) was recently accepted as a Fellow at the Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC). Tyler’s review of the book City of Segregation: 100 Years of Struggle for Housing in Los Angeles by Andrea Gibbons will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs.

Elizabeth Marcello (UP Ph.D.) was awarded a fellowship from the Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture to support her dissertation research, which examines the politics of public authorities. The award will enable Elizabeth to visit the state archives in Albany and travel throughout the state to Empire State Development’s 10 regional offices.

Rosalie Singerman Ray (UP Ph.D.) spent Spring 2019 as a visiting fellow at the Center for European Studies and Comparative Politics, having received an Alliance Doctoral Mobility Grant. She published an article in the Transport Research Record, "The Politics of Prioritizing Transit on City Streets”, and will spend the summer continuing dissertation research in London. Ph.D. life can be pretty great sometimes.

Wenfei Xu (UP Ph.D.) participated in a panel discussion titled “Urban Data Science: Methods & Models for our Changing Cities” at the American Association of Geographers in April, along with Vanessa Frias-Martinez, Song Gao, and Geoff Boeing. At the conference, she also presented her paper “The Persistence of Racial Segregation through HOLC Residential Security Maps”.

Alumni Updates

The UP Alumni Mentorship Program Roundtable took place on April 30 in the recently-renovated UP Lounge. During the first half of the event, participating alumni mentors and second-year student mentees mingled, networked, and chatted about their personal and professional pursuits. The event was then opened up to first-year students as current mentees and mentors engaged in a conversation on how the program has helped them gain a deeper understanding of the planning profession and advanced their job/internship search and strategy.

Veronica Chuah (M.S. UP/M.S. RED ‘16) joined the Land Use and Zoning Group at Herrick Feinstein in April 2019. Previously, she was a city planner with the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals where she managed and evaluated zoning relief applications, shepherding them from initial filing to Board decision.

Benjamin Huff (M.S. UP '12) was recently hired by the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) as a Senior Transit Manager. Previously, he worked at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for five-and-a-half years helping to run the Water Demand Management Program where he focused on investing in infrastructure to conserve water across the city. DEP estimates that the initiatives from this program help save the city 10 million gallons of water per day. Some of the highlights include upgrading 34,000 plumbing fixtures at 400 New York City Public Schools, a stream re-circulation project at Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and a water reuse project at the FDNY training facility. Some of the porcelain from the retrofitted school fixtures were used to build an oyster reef in Jamaica Bay and that project was recently featured on the Discovery Channel.

Olivia Jovine (M.S. UP '15) is an Urban Planner working in tech, where she contributes to the development of Localize.city, a real-estate and planning product. She is a strong consulting professional with a background in the environmental services industry. Olivia is also the founder and chair of the APA New York Metro Chapter’s Technology Committee.

Michael Phillips (M.S. UP '16) is currently the Manager, Development Planning at Hudson Pacific Properties. His company is breaking ground on a new master plan for a film and entertainment studio lot in Hollywood at the end of this year and is about to start construction of an adaptive reuse of a vacant shopping mall into a state of the art tech campus for Google on the Westside of LA. Some other upcoming projects this year include the re-positioning of the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the Bentall Centre in Vancouver.

Gary Roth (M.S. UP '04) currently works as a Connected Vehicle Project Manager at the NYC Department of Transportation. He is looking forward to the 10th Anniversary of the High Line since he works as a High Line intern during his time in GSAPP’s UP program!

Sonal Shah (M.S. UP '08) led a report by the Ola Mobility Institute titled “What women and girls want from urban mobility systems”. The report released on International Women’s Day (2019) conducted a gender disaggregated analysis of around 24,000 surveys across 11 cities in India to bring forth women’s experiences, perceptions and stated preferences for sustainable modes of transport. Shah also designed and facilitated a training workshop on “Towards an equitable public transport system in Jordan” from April 23 to 24 in Amman, Jordan. This was in partnership with GIZ and FES and SADAQA. The training was attended by the Ministry of Transport, Land Transport Regulatory Commission, Greater Amman Municipality, World Bank, and civil society organizations in Jordan.