Spring 2019 Urban Design Semester in Review
End-of-year show, Urban Design, Spring 2019 / Image: Michael Vahrenwald/Esto
From The Director

Happy Summer to everyone, and Happy Graduation to the Class of 2019! The program wrapped up with some creative and inspiring design responses to challenges of water and equitable resilience in our final semester studio in Pune, India (where we looked at the Mula-Mutha River and the broader water system of the Pune region) and Can Tho, Vietnam where the existential threat of subsidence, sea level rise, and upstream dams force a fresh look at living with water. In both cases, student work will be shared in the form of local exhibitions and discussions to help new paradigms of Water Urbanism for next century cities.

As you read this, our new class of nearly 60 students is about to start in our freshly renovated Studio in Fayerweather Hall. As a program, we are also continually reassessing and modifying the curriculum to best prepare our students to be Urban Design leaders. An especially noteworthy change this year is in the summer semester. We are rolling out a new “Integrated Summer Curriculum” concept affectionately known as “ONE BIG CLASS.” The Summer Studio, Digital Technologies (DTEQ), Reading NY Urbanism (RNYU) and even Urban Design History/Theory pedagogy, topics and deadlines will be woven together to create a more synthetic introduction to Urban Design, and students will experience synergies and cross-cutting themes, not to mention coordinated work deadlines.

The Studio will be led by Nans Voron (class of 2015) and Tricia Martin, both veteran teachers. Also new this summer is Quilian Riano, Senior Urban Designer focusing on equity in the built environment at the NYC Department of Design and Construction, and the founder and principal of DSGN AGNC, a collaborative design/research studio exploring political engagement through architecture, urbanism, and art. Also joining the faculty is the indefatigable urbanist/mobility strategist Shinpei Tsay. Rejoining the Summer Studio are Sagi Golan of NYC Department of City Planning, Austin Sakong architect/urban designer at FXCollaborative, and Hayley Eber. Cassim Shepard, Guggenheim fellow and author of Citymakers: The Culture and Craft of Practical Urbanism, will continue leading RNYU; and DTEQ will now be led by Carmelo Ignaccolo (taking the summer off from the Ph.D. program at MIT) and Kyle Hovenkotter. Urban Design History/Theory will continue to be led by Noah Chasin, who we share with Columbia’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

And another big program change is that Kaja Kühl, whom many of you know from her role as Summer Coordinator, will shift to lead the Fall City-Region Studio, tied in part to her leadership of the Hudson Valley Initiative. More news to follow.

As always, we want to hear from you – what are you doing, seeing, hearing? Send us links, articles, and events so we can share new forms of urban practice with the global UD community. And, please help us help our graduates as they enter the professional realm by letting us know if there are new opportunities. Our graduates are ready for challenges and are increasingly pursuing non-traditional design paths in NGOs and nonprofits, as well as more traditional governmental and private professional practice careers. All the best,

Kate Orff, Associate Professor, Director, Urban Design Program

Research and Outreach

This Spring, the Hudson Valley Initiative completed its Vision for Oakdale Lake in Hudson, NY, together with Friends of Oakdale. A big thank you to Lorena Galvao and Maria Palomares (both MSAUD ’19) for their tremendous efforts in visualizing the community’s ideas and vision. In Newburgh, NY, HVI opened the 191 South Street Community Park. Designed by Sofia Valdivieso (MSAUD ’18), the park/playground is a pilot for converting vacant lots into neighborhood amenities. We are also excited to see that MSAUD alumni continue to work in the Hudson Valley. Amy Shell and Razvan Voroneanu (both MSAUD’15) are developing the “cinemabox” and the East by North East Film Festival in Newburgh. In the classroom, our work in the Hudson Valley saw a huge expansion this Spring with seven Advanced Architecture studios working in Newburgh and the Quassaick Creek Watershed. For more frequent updates on what the Hudson Valley Initiative is up to, follow us on Instagram.

The Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes held workshops in Montevideo, Uruguay on the future of the Pantanoso Basin, in Tel Aviv Israel on equitable adaptation and heat island as an equity issue, and in Pemba, Mozambique on planning for resilience and adaptation. The Center also published a series of reports and position papers. Keep up with Center news here.

Lectures and Events

Tami Banh, Mekong Delta Stories, Friday, Mar 1. Tami shared her amazing thesis work on colonialism and landscape representation to help add context and insight to the Can Tho Studio.

Anthony Acciavatti, long-time teacher in the MSAUD program, delivered the Detlef Mertins Lecture on the Histories of Modernity: Building a Republic of Villages: Society, Lies, and Videotape in India, on March 25.

Workshop with Klaus Jacob, “Disaster Risk Management and Sustainable Urban Resilience,” on Friday, April 12. Klaus, of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Earth Institute, is a long time friend of the Program and frequently lends his expert advice on climate and disaster preparedness in a range of contexts.

On May 10, the Urban Design program presented an exciting exhibition called People and Places – a multi-screen experience created by film maker Allan Holzman – at Columbia’s new Renzo Piano-designed “The Forum.” A panel discussion about the exhibit touching on film, cities and experience included UD’s Nans Voron, Kate Orff and David Smiley as well Columbia professor Ira Katznelson, and film maker Raafi Rivero.

Program Updates
Many program updates are covered in my remarks above, so I’ll take this opportunity to dig deeper into a description of the Spring Studio Water Urbanism work in Pune, a city located at the confluence of the Mula and Mutha rivers, and at the foothills of one of the most bio-diverse regions in India. Pune has grown rapidly with exurban office parcels on the city’s expanding fringe and informal settlements along the banks of the Mula-Mutha River densifying for the past few decades. This has created an immense pressure on the City’s water resources and civic infrastructure. The proposed Mula-Mutha River Conservation and Riverfront Project – led by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) was the focus of our studio. Growing water consumption, rapid development of upstream areas, rural versus urban water needs, and pollution all speak to the larger, more systemic scale of vision and coordination required to implement a transformation of the river system. As part of its resilience-building process, Pune partnered with Columbia Urban Design and the Resilience Accelerator Program – a joint effort of the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at Columbia University and 100RC – to take a fresh look at this initiative. Students proposed alternative nature-based infrastructure, facilitated opportunities for the re-alignment of decision-makers, and partnerships to advance alternative approaches. The studio site visit and expert workshop – conducted with the Pune’s Institute of Environment Education and Research, and College of Engineering – advanced a long-term socio-ecological revitalization project that considers multiple scales of operation for equitable water resource management, instead of the current proposed mega-project. Alternative visions were tested by students at various sites along the riverbanks during the Spring Urban Design Studio and our E-Book on both Pune (and Can Tho, Vietnam!) will be published soon! Be sure to scroll down to the Publications tab on the Urban Design home page.
Faculty Updates

Kate Orff and her firm, SCAPE, has won the 2019 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Architecture.

Grahame Shane traveled in China in the Spring semester, meeting with alums, speaking about his books on urbanism, about the futures (and histories) of cities, and about the GSAPP UD program. He spoke at Tongji University and Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, at Southeast University in Nanjing, the offices of Turenscape Peking University in Beijing, at Chinese Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Southwest University City College and UD Institute in Hangzhou as well as at Urbanus offices (Shenzhen). In the US, Shane also lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, NYIT and MIT.

Lee Altman has continued her work in the Design Justice arena, most recently leading a workshop with the Design Trust (in which Kaja Kuhl and David Smiley also participated!)

Noah Chasin participated in The Brutalist Turn: An International Conference on Concrete Architecture at the Azrieli School of Architecture of Tel Aviv University. His paper was entitled “Has Brutalism Ever Been Ethical?”

Kaja Kühl spent a few days as a guest critic at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, and helped kick off a year-long collaboration with GSAPP and UD examining the Hudson Valley and designing in rural spaces. One hundred years after the founding of the Bauhaus, its original research question – “How do we want to live?” – will guide this dialogue. Students and faculty from Germany will visit GSAPP in the Fall of 2019.

Geeta Mehta gave a lecture titled “Can Architects Design for Social Justice?” at the Platinum Jubilee Lecture series at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi.

Justin Moore was interviewed by Metropolis Magazine to learn about his work at NYC’s Public Design Commission. Urban Patch, which Moore directs, is expanding to Kigali, Rwanda, consulting on the city’s new zoning and urban design regulations and helping to develop mixed-income affordable housing, including prototypes for an inclusionary housing development model reaching 40% affordable units without government subsidy. The project uses the open source Skat Consulting/SDC housing model. Moore is also serving as a judge for two competitions: Innovation by Design and Zero Threshold Competitions (enter!).

Cassim Shepard was awarded a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship in recognition of his “artistic, journalistic, and scholarly” work on cities, and especially those places “where the social possibilities that arise from forced confrontation with people unlike oneself are greatest, where spatial inequalities are most explicit, where what we build most affects how we live and interact.” His commitment to urban equity is central to his teaching, most recently, in his Spring, 2019 Informal Urbanisms seminar.

Julia Watson lectured on “Indigenous Infrastructure” at GSAPP. She also spoke at the Harvard GSD Landscape Program on “Ancient Innovations,” which received a NYSCA grant sponsored by Storefront for Art and Architecture (2017). Watson’s book "Lo-Fi: Design by Radical Indigenism” will be released by Taschen later this year.

Alumni Updates

Hanni Gomez (‘84) lives in Caracas and is an Architecture Curator, Chair of the Venezuelan Chapter of Docomomo International, President of the Columbia University Alumni Club of Venezuela, Architecture and Urban critic at EL NACIONAL, and Architecture and Design consultant for Gio Ponti’s Villa Planchart (1957). Gomez is a founding member of the GSAPP Alumni Association.

Helen Lochhead (‘86) has just been appointed the President of the Australian Institute of Architects for 2019-2020. She is also the Dean of the Faculty of Built Environment at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Mary Elizabeth Rusz (‘89) FAIA, formerly of the NYC Housing Authority, was elevated to a Fellow of the AIA just a few months ago, and the Convocation Ceremony will take place at this year’s national AIA Conference in June. Rusz will be retiring from public service in October 2019 and her first post-city service project is a “Primer on Architecture” for high school students, so we’ll see her in Avery Hall!

Jacques-Emmanuel Remy ('93) is a Strategic Urban Expert with the European Investment Bank, and is a member of the Colab Consulting Group. He recently completed a “Strategic Urban Development Plan for Bahrain”, and has worked on similar projects in Kisumu, Kenya and in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He has also worked on human settlements, housing and development in the Balkans, Haiti, Ivory Coast and for many other cities and regions.

Jaroen Thientanukij ('94) has been running his own firm, JTA Architect, for over 20 years, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Luis Fornez ('98) was instrumental in founding the now well-known Estudio Digital at the Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Universidad Central de Venezuela (FAU-UCV). Fornez won several competitions, including with Ukumbi.com and most recently, he was invited by Cámara Venezolana de la Construcción to join the Venezuela BIM Chapter.

Yolisa Salas ('98) was an urban planning project manager during Leopoldo López’s mayoralty of Chacao (part of Caracas), Venezuela, managing large-scale renewal projects and working on financial, legal, regulatory and infrastructure issues. Over the years, Salas has worked alongside many professionals in development, construction, documents, and governance. In more recent years, Salas has also been a Facilities Management consultant.

Rafael Velez Mantilla (‘00) is a partner at his family’s firm in Ecuador, and two years ago was appointed Dean of the School of Architecture and Design at the Universidad de Las Americas in Quito.

Pedro Garcia da Fonseca (‘02) now lives in Luanda, Angola and his firm works on a variety of projects including small buildings, hotels, hospitals and new cities.

Belisario A. Barchi (‘03) has been working at urban and architectural scales from stadiums to millwork. See more of his work here.

Michael McCulloch (‘03) is helping to establish an M.Arch. program at the Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI. He completed a Ph.D. in Architecture History and Theory at the University of Michigan in 2014, focusing on early twentieth century workers’ housing in the U.S., with Detroit as a case study.

Alejandro Guerrero (‘05) recently joined Gensler, Dallas as a Senior Designer.

Brandie Lockett (‘07) is Houston Metro’s first and only urban designer. She is developing Urban Transit Design Guides for all consultants and work on the system’s public spaces. She has also written the Metro’s Policy and Review process in order to integrate design, planning, and engineering processes. A tidbit here.

Jenin Shah (‘07) is an Associate at Beyer Blinder Belle, working on urban design, campus planning, and land use projects. Her clients include Aga Khan University, Phillips Academy Andover, University at Buffalo, NYC Economic Development Corporation, Atlantic City Casino Alliance, and Broadway Station Development Corporation.

Gabriella Folino (‘08) is an Urban Designer at Perkins+Will, San Francisco, and is part of the firm’s Resilience Lab and the Housing Affordability Task Force.

Marielly Casanova (‘09) recently published Social Strategies Building the City: A Reconceptualization of Social Housing in Latin America – based on her 2017 Ph.D. dissertation at University of Duisburg-Essen.

Mania Taher (‘09) taught and practiced architecture in Bangladesh for several years and is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is studying cultural landscapes of immigrant and refugee communities from South and South-East Asia, and specifically at the Rohingya refugee community in Milwaukee.

Miguel Omar Porras (‘10) worked on Renzo Piano’s Eighty Seven Park building in Miami Beach, and worked with Ten Arquitectos NY on a residential project, 2000 Ocean, in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Currently Porras is the lead designer for Stiles Architectural Group, a real estate development company in South Florida, where he is currently working on a 22 acre retail center that received certification as a Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation because of its integration of urban design strategies and sustainable landscape practices.

Mansi Sahu (‘11) started StudioPOD in 2013 with two other urban designers, and the firm has been busy! Most recently, the firm has done several projects for the Mumbai Metro, won two competitions – one to rethink refuge camps, and the other to revision the Chennai Buckingham Canal- and won a new Campus Master Plan for Piramal Foundation of Education Leadership.

Andres Correa (‘12) was just elected as the Young Members President of FIABCI, the international real estate organization of which Columbia University is an Academic Member. The next young members meeting will be in Jakarta in September. He worked on the interior design of the AC Hotel by Marriott Santa Marta, and the Hotel Santa Catalina in Cartagena, as well as several restaurants in Bogota.

Celine Armstrong (‘13) is the Executive Project Manager for Pier55 in NYC, working directly for the Diller-von Furstenberg non-profit organization; she manages the design and construction of the Heatherwick-designed park and performance pier.

Lilly Djaniants (‘13) was the principal for a master plan for Dilijan, Armenia, including the first zoning in the country. In Denver, Colorado, where she works for the Community Planning and Development agency, Djaniants was the lead for a Community Plan and the Design Standards and Guidelines for the “Central Platte Valley – Auraria District.”

Belen Ayarra ('14) is an Associate at Perkins Eastman and Grace Pelletier ('14) is a Senior Project Manager at MVVA and they, and their firms, are collaborating on the the second phase of the District Wharf Project– opening in 2022 – in Southwest Washington DC, with marina, office, residential, retail spaces as well as parks and public spaces.

Kirk Finkel ('14) is the co-founder of BLDG BLOX, a Brooklyn-based startup developing a token-based network for neighborhood development. The application “is a marketplace that allows users to socially invest in new development projects and neighborhood programs, incentivizing and nurturing stakeholdership in the places we live and love.”

Crystal Eksi (‘15), currently an Urban Designer with the NYC Department of City Planning, was among the 2019 honorees of the 40 Under 40: The Rising Stars in NYC Food Policy by the Hunter College, NYC Food Policy Center.

Manuela Powidayko Alberici Souza (‘15) is working as an Urban Designer at the NYC Department of City Planning. She is the project manager for a massive citywide zoning text amendment: “Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency.” Formal review starts soon. This year, Souza will also work with the Urban Design Forum on Forefront 2019 Turning the Heat, a project about climate justice and urban design.

Amy Shell and Razvan Voroneanu (‘15) co-founded Common Projects Newburgh, and are about to break ground on their Edison Cinemabox project – an outgrowth of one of their UD studios!

Filiberto Viteri (‘15), who teaches at Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil and Silvia Vercher (‘14), who works for Perkins Eastman, are collaborating on a studio for next semester. The studio will examine collective spaces around the Perkins Eastman-designed Ciudad Nueva, on the site of the soon-to-be-closed José Joaquín de Olmedo airport.

Cameron Cortez ('16) has been living in Tokyo working at A+U Magazine and in April of this year, his "Shibuya Microwave Theater” – about an appliance left on the sidewalk for 98 days – was published in Log 45.

Eleni Gklinou (‘16) is working on the Heathrow Airport Expansion at Grimshaw Architects. Among her Urban Design tasks is the “Communities” project, a massive outreach effort to address the new boundaries of the airport.

Carmelo Ignaccolo ('16) is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, and next year will be teaching “Intro to Urban Design and Development” with Larry Vale. Meanwhile, he’s spending the summer in NYC, leading the UD summer class, “Digital Technologies” (DTEQ), just getting underway as you read this!

Zarith Pineda (‘16) recently started a non-profit called Territorial Empathy, a UD practice leveraging interactive media, data science and artificial intelligence to mediate urban conflict. The firm is currently working on Unaccompanied Assault, a research project that visualizes the epidemic of sexual assault of migrant children in detention in the US.

Zhuoran Zhao (‘16) is a principle at 3andwich Design, and recent projects include the Shangping Village Regeneration, chosen for the Across Chinese Cities – The Community exhibit at the 2018 Venice Biennale. The project was awarded the Second Prize of Architectural Design Award by the Architectural Society of China. Other award winning projects include B Garden, the Limestone Gallery (with more links here and here).

Majed Abdulsamad (‘17) is currently working for the Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). His work falls under the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) and focuses on transforming streets to inspire safe, sustainable, and healthy cities.

Nabi Agzamov (‘17) recently attended the New Normal program at the Strelka Institute in Moscow, focusing on emerging technologies in the urban environment. He has been working on “bioregional governance.”

David Chonillo Breilh ('17) is working at the Ecuador office of Perkins Eastman, specifically on large-scale and BIM projects. Next year, he will be attending the Real Estate Development and Urbanism program at the University of Miami School of Architecture.

Marwah Garib (‘17) is an Urban Designer at Gensler, NYC, and alongside her regular projects, she is helping the firm renovate an underserved school in the Bronx. In addition, she is a volunteer with the ACE Mentor program, helping high school students interested in the construction industry.

Yang Liao (‘17) works at Gensler, Los Angeles, with the Urban Strategy Design group.

Ahmed Jawdat (‘17) is an Urban Planning and Design Specialist at the Royal Commission for AlUla in Saudi Arabia. The Commission was established to protect and reinvigorate AlUla, a region of natural and cultural significance, one part of which Madâin Sâlih, is the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dissa Raras (‘17) is currently working as an urban design researcher at the Future Cities Laboratory, a research center of ETH Zürich, and is affiliated with the National Research Fund in Singapore. At FCL, she is part of the The Grand Project team, investigating urban megaprojects such as Lujiazui, Shanghai and HafenCity, Hamburg. Back in her home town of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Dissa helped start a co-working space called Antologi Space.