Fall 2021
Urban Design Semester Update
From the Director

Hello Everyone!

I’m excited to share news and updates from the Urban Design Program. First off, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the Class of 2021, who recently graduated, and who spent almost the entire of their year online or in mixed learning situations. They are heros (as are their faculty!) The work this year has been superlative so please take some time to check it out using the links below. This group learned how to make lemonade from lemons – as did you all most likely – by mastering zoom and other remote and collaborative platforms, and by creating new and insightful ways of developing Urban Design concepts and practices. Class of 2021, take a well-deserved bow.

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Photo by Sirin Samman, courtesy of Columbia GSAPP

The Class of ‘22 completed their summer semester under the able guidance of Nans Voron, coordinator for several years, and Sagi Golan, who joined Nans as co-coordinator this year. They were joined by new and continuing faculty: Tami Banh, Sean Gallagher, Galen Pardee, Austin Sakong and Jae Shin.

As you read this, our Fall semester is getting underway and I am excited to announce that the Fall semester design studio is focused on the Atlanta region and coordinated by new UD faculty member Emanuel Admassu, joined by Nina Cooke John, Chat Travieso, and Lexi Tsien. Emanuel is the co-founder of AD-WO.

We hope you caught Emanuel’s lecture over the summer during our summer global urban design lecture series: Urban Design in Practice (more info below). Emanuel’s work was featured in the recent exhibition Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, at the Museum of Modern Art, organized and curated by GSAPP Prof. Mabel O. Wilson and MoMA’s Sean Anderson.

New, cross-disciplinary programming for the Fall 2021 semester includes the GSAPP Common Circle, a series of interdisciplinary workshops for new students on anti-racist thought and pedagogy, responding to student calls for broader discourse across GSAPP programs. This School-wide initiative will be taught collaboratively by approximately twenty GSAPP faculty, with two faculty per section, including MSAUD’s Shachi Pandey.

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 design practice with the global Urban Design community. In addition, please help us help our graduates as they enter the professional realm, let us know if you hear of new opportunities near you. Contact us or contact GSAPP Career Services coordinator Karen Cover.

While the global COVID situation is certainly not over, we are happy to say that Columbia University is now open and in-person. Our class of 2022 is now entirely in New York City and the students, many of whom were online over the summer, are thrilled to be with us. That said, for those of you who have been impacted by COVID, or are still operating under limitations and risks from the pandemic, please accept my heartfelt greetings and wishes for a better future, very soon.

Kate Orff, FASLA, Director, Urban Design Program

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Program Updates

Congrats to faculty member Nans Voron and his wife Marie-Charlotte Lemoine, on the arrival of their new baby, Lou! However, we must also say adieu to Nans, who has coordinated our Summer studio for several years, since the family is returning to France.

Meanwhile, congrats to faculty member Sagi Golan, and his husband Ron Shkedi, on the arrival of their new baby, Dean! Sagi, who joined Nans recently as co-coordinator of the Summer studio, will stay on the job!

Kaja Kuhl will offer a new seminar this semester, Practices of Community Engagement, asking, What does it mean to participate, and how do we ensure meaningful and inclusive community engagement?

Hudson Valley Studios: the pandemic overshadowed our release of Justice in Place, Designing for Equity in the Hudson Valley, 2014-2018, a detailed look at the UD program work and research in the fall semester by our dedicated faculty and students.

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Please check out two recent Hudson Valley Regional Fall Studios, both coordinated by Kaja Kühl. “The Climate Crisis: Envisioning a Green New Deal in the Hudson Valley,” Fall, 2019. “The Climate Crisis: Design a Just Transition for Small Cities,” Spring, 2021.
UD Students and Faculty from the Spring, 2020 Rift Valley Studio will present the students’ work at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. As part of a “Resilient Cities” panel, team members will discuss their work at three sites, Tel-Aviv-Yafo (Israel), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), and Beira (Mozambique). A curated installation of drawings, site-visit footage, animated analyses, and design scenarios focuses on urban ecology and social infrastructure, offering ways forward in complex urban and non urban conditions. Participants include: Kate Orff, Adriana Chávez, Dilip da Cunha; with German Bahamon, Tal Fuerst, Candelaria Mas Pohmajevic, Jamie Palacios Anaya, and Victoria Vuono. See the projects here
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And take a look at the most recent Studio III (Summer 2021) – not global this year because of COVID, “Envisioning the Mississippi as a Living River,” The studio was undertaken with help from the National Wildlife Foundation and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, to explore nature-based infrastructure and urban revitalization within the entire basin. The studio was led by Kate Orff, with faculty Adriana Chávez, Dilip da Cunha, Justine Holzman, and Geeta Mehta.
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Lectures and Events
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This past summer, UD organized Urban Design in Practice, an online lecture series that brought international practitioners to our screens. All the lectures were recorded so we invite you to check them out. Speakers included:
Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha of MATHUR | DA CUNHA
Dirk Sijmons and Pieter Schengenga of H+N+S Landscape Architects
P.K. Das and Samarth Das of PK Das & Associates
Doug Voigt and Adam Semel of SOM, Urban Planning and Design
Joan Busquets of Harvard GSD
Emanuel Admassu of AD—WO (and GSAPP)
Javier Vergara Petrescu of Ciudad Emergente.
Leading with the Future: Educate, Elevate, and Empower: Recently, UD Alum Jason Pugh (‘06), President of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), and NOMA President-elect Pascale Sablan MSAAD ('07) presented their work as designers and activists. They were joined in conversation by NOMA immediate past President Kimberly Dowdell on their 50th Anniversary as an organization.
Faculty Updates

Lee Altman advised the Urban Design Forum in their efforts to develop a climate strategy for New York City’s next leadership.

Jesse Hirakawa is Urban Designer & Planner for the NYC Department of City Planning in the Brooklyn Office. He was recently selected to participate in the 2021 AIA NY Civic Leadership Program. This semester, he is teaching storytelling and animation workshops for the Syracuse University Architecture NYC Studio.

Sagi Golan presented the Gowanus Neighborhood Plan to the City Planning Commission after a four-year long community outreach process. The presentation kicked off the Uniform Land Use Process (ULURP) for the Rezoning proposal.

Justin Garrett Moore, moved from his directorship of the NYC Public Design Commission to become the Inaugural Program Officer for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program.

Grahame Shane published several articles: “Gardens as Public Space: A Century of Continuity and Change in the Great Bay Area,” in Mitrasinovic and Jachna, eds., The Emerging Public Realm of the Great Bay Area (2021) and “Heteropias as Places of Change in the Cosmopolitan Environment,” in Schroder, Carta and Contato, eds., Cosmopolitan Habitat (2021). He has organized a November 2021 digital conference for the Geneology of Urban Design Platform, called “Contextualism, Collage City and Beyond.” In 2022, Shane’s “Notes Towards an Intellectual Biography of Colin Rowe 1938-78” will appear in The Urban Design Chinese Legacy of Colin Rowe, and a version will appear in the new Chinese translation of Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter’s Collage City, by Professor Tong Ming. Shane’s “Oral History of Archigram” interviews will appear on the M+ Museum website in 2022.

Cassim Shepard has continued working on his research project and manuscript ”Self-help Housing: Incremental Approaches to Shelter since 1965“ with support from Guggenheim fellowship and a writer’s residency at MacDowell. He reflected on that experience in a recent essay about freedom, and also published an article about Istanbul in the award-winning travel magazine Strangers Guide. He continues to lecture widely about the culture and craft of citymaking and urban storytelling; recent venues include The Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli in Italy, the Kharkiv School of Architecture in Ukraine, the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture in the Netherlands, and the Inter-American Development Bank and its network of local government practitioners across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Kate Orff was profiled by Eric Klinenberg in a recent issue of The New Yorker. The Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes is co-leading the Columbia Earth Institute’s Just Cities Network and the Coastal Resilience Network. See here for more info.

Thad Pawlowski, managing director of the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes, talked to the Times of India about the movement for climate resilience around the world: “Climate compassion must be globalized now.” The Center also hosted a continuing education workshop for professionals seeking to apply lessons from the urban resilience movement to their work on climate solutions.

New summer faculty member Galen Pardee’s Territories of Territory Extraction is on display at the Reading Room at Chicago’s MAS Context until October 30th.

Alumni Updates
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A unique collaboration: Alexa Gonzales (‘11), Zarith Pineda ('17), and German Bahamon ('19). Zarith Pineda of Terrtorial Empathy worked this past summer with Alexa Gonzales of Hive Public Space and German Bahamon of Colab-19 on The People’s Bus, part of the People’s Festival sponsored by the New York City Civic Enagement Commission. The project transformed a former Rikers Island prison bus into a community center on wheels as part of a larger series of public participation events. Tori Vuono ('20) assisted Territorial Empathy.

Andrew E. Thompson ('93), is currently the County Architect for Passaic County, NJ. He is a past-president of AIA Newark & Suburban Architects, and past President of the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects.

Kelly J. Hutzell ('02), Congrats! Earlier this year, Kelly was appointed at the Director of the School of Architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).

Marc Brossa ('03), defended his PhD in 2020 – cum laude – on Mass Housing in Seoul, South Korea, at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain.


Eugene Kwak (‘05), published his Togather House last year in the New York Times. It focused on regional food systems and empowering local farmers. In April of 2021, he spoke about the project – “Design that Brings Farm, Food, and People Together” – at TEDxEmory.

Alexa Gonzales (‘11) of Hive Public Space is leading the Urban Design and Placemaking team for Lyra, a two-million square foot mixed-use project in Monterrey, MX. Hive is addressing the public spaces of the project – almost half the total area. The Hive team includes UD alums Anna Gabriela Callejas ('11), Racha Daher ('11) and Anaí Perez Manrique ('20).

Ankita Chachra ('13) is the Knowledge for Policy Director at the Bernard van Leer Foundation in the Netherlands, where she works on the Celebrate Public Life campaign, an open call for people around the world, especially youth, to tell stories about public spaces they love and depend on.

Sun Joo Park ('13) currently works at the NYC Department of Design and Construction in the Cultural Unit – working on museums and other institutions, most recently, building system upgrades at MoMA PS1 and renovations at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Outside DDC, see her firm Site-Teller Architecture.

Crystal Ng (‘14), the Sustainability Director at Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, was recently recognized in Crain’s 40 under 40 as a leader and advocate in sustainable design, see the March 22, 2021 issue.

Majed Abdulsamad ('17), just joined WXY as Senior Urban Designer, after four years at the Global Designing Cities Initiative at NACTO.

Zarith Pineda ('17) and her office Territorial Empathy completed Segregation is Killing Us, an investigation into the disparate impacts of the pandemic on New Yorkers of Color. Their StoryMap won first place in a competition held by Esri and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Linda Cristina Schilling Cuellar ('17) is part of the “Driving the Human” project, and is currently working on “Toxicity Distributed,” exploring future economies through a new array of Green New Deal transition jobs that deal with mining’s environmental liabilities, with an exhibit this fall. Linda is also teaching at the Universidad Andres Bello and the Universidad de Las Américas, in Santiago, Chile.

Wanpeng Zu ('17), is currently a senior project designer in TLS Landscape Architecture, in Berkeley, working on international landscape and urban design projects.

Xiaofei Huang ('18), works at Hart Howerton on suburban planning and preservation development. He hopes to soon begin a computer science and technology degree.

Carmelo Ignaccolo ('18), has a dissertation fellowship for the Harvard Center for European Studies, investigating heritage mapping, migration, and place attachment in port cities in late 19th century Italy. He continues his work with Liminal, a reseach organization he co-founded on overtourism and rural town depopulation in Italy.

Jose Gerardo Ponte ('18) returned to Brazil and with his former firm, Gate Architects, won first place in the 15-Minute City Urban Design Competition.

German Bahamon ('19), started Colab-19 with partner Alejandro Saldarriaga from the GSD. Their work focuses on strategies to reactivate neighborhoods affected by the COVID pandemic, with projects shown in Dezeen, Archdaily, Divisare, Icon Magazine, GSD News, and Metropolis. Colab also a collaborated with Alexa Gonzales ('11) and Zareth Pineda ('17), as noted above.

Candelaria Mas Pohmajevic, ('20) works as an urban designer at Gehl NYC designing public spaces, leading engagement workshops with different stakeholders, and creating healthy food strategies to address food access in neighborhoods in Bogota and Philadelpia. Candelaria will have a “quarantine map” published next year in Bloomberg CityLab’s ’The Quarantine Atlas’ book; she was a UD Studio Associate in 2021 and 2022.

Just a final reminder of how difficult this year has been but, at the same time, a year in which we learned new modes of communication, representing, sharing, and moving forward with the global project of design – urban or otherwise!
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