Being able to welcome and work with our students in person has been incredible. The energy, the interactions, and a sense of community, all sorely missed at times during hybrid learning. More than 50 students in our new class come from a wide range of backgrounds and nearly every continent. Together with returning students, they are generating camaraderie and buzz in the UP suite – back to its pre-COVID design setting with a comfy sofa added – and the large community. Challenges remain. Tragic stabbing of Columbia students, travel restrictions, student workers strike, and now the Omicron variant, among others. In this difficult time, let’s make an extra effort to connect with each other and lend a helping hand when needed.
At the end of May, we received good news from the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) in regards to the reaccreditation of the MSUP degree. PAB decided to “accredit the Master of Science in Urban Planning degree at Columbia University for a seven-year term, effective January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2028. As the Program has an exemplary record, the accreditation period granted is the longest term possible under current PAB rules.” Also noted in the decision letter was the “engaged faculty that are committed to student learning and integrating innovative topics into the curriculum; and a strong core curriculum with a rich variety of electives.” Again, thanks to our faculty, students, alumni, and community members for your support during the reaccreditation process and beyond. The incredible work and contribution by all of you are central to our thriving program.
Bittersweet news to report, about UP faculty. Malo Hutson has become the Dean of UVA’s Architecture School (starting last July), and Lance Freeman will assume an endowed professorship with a joint appointment in urban planning and sociology at UPenn (coming January). Fantastic opportunities for them and for the field of urban planning. Since the late summer, a search process has been ongoing for multiple full-time faculty positions (Urban Planning and Urban Analytics), now reaching advanced stages. The interest has been tremendous. I look forward to sharing the news – hopefully soon – about new colleagues joining the program in the next academic year.
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!
We finally were able to launch an internal website that faculty and students can access. It is housed on Columbia’s CourseWorks platform (aka Canvas). It contains general information to help students navigate academic and student life. Expanding and evolving as we go, this site is the information central for all things UP.
Beginning in Fall 2021, Columbia GSAPP offers a part-time option allowing students to complete the Master of Science in Urban Planning (MSUP) degree over the course of four years (eight semesters) as an alternative to two years (four semesters) of full-time study. This part-time option is specifically intended for active practitioners in the field who wish to maintain professional positions while completing their degree.
Ryan Devlin and Boyeong Hong have been appointed as Visiting Assistant Professors this academic year. Both are advising students on their thesis and capstone projects. Ryan Devlin taught History and Theory of Planning and Practicum: Reimagining Public Space in Post-Pandemic New York this fall. He will teach Urban Informality and an Urban Planning Studio in the spring. Boyeong Hong taught Planning Methods and Introduction to Urban Informatics this fall. She will teach Exploring Urban Data with Machine Learning in the spring.
A big welcome goes to several new adjunct colleagues: Matthew Bauer, President, Madison Avenue Business Improvement District; Bernadette Baird-Zars, Partner, Alarife Urban Associates and former Consultant, World Bank; Calvin Brown, Assistant Commissioner, Neighborhood Development Division, NYC Department of Small Business Services; Daniel Froehlich, Business Manager, Geographic Information Systems, NYCHA; Nora Libertun De Duren, Housing and Urban Development Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank; Nilda Mesa, Director, Urban Sustainability and Equity Planning Program, Columbia University Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD), Earth Institute; Deborah Morris, Urban Planning Design Critic and Course Instructor, Harvard Graduate School of Design and former Executive Director, Resiliency Planning, Policy, and Acquisitions, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development; John Reddick, Harlem architectural historian and Former Associate Vice President, Central Park Conservancy; Jeff Shumaker, Founder and President, Urbanscape; Kurt Steinhouse, General Counsel, NYC Board of Standards and Appeals.
For the Spring, we will have a couple of new courses:
Governance and Action for Inclusive Cities - Bernadette Baird-Zars and Nora Libertun de Duren
Urban Infrastructure Services & Mobility in Global Context - Jit Bajpai
An exciting lineup of studio projects will take place in the Spring:
Robert A. Beauregard edited a new book titled Regulation and Planning: Practices, Institutions, Agency, that was published this September.
Hiba Bou Akar published an essay in Society and Space titled (Post)Pandemic Urban Futures and Their Contradictions. The essay incorporates ongoing work with Urban Planning PhD and Masters students including the reading list Pandemic Urbanism: Praxis in the time of COVID-19 that they assembled in 2020. She reflects on how cities try to reimagine urban futures in the context of current and future crises–such as COVID-19’s intersection with climate change–through modes of urbanization and contested public and private space to conclude with a warning about the ease with which marginalization, racism and dispossession are being reproduced through emergency responses.
We are deeply saddened to share the loss of Richard Froehlich ‘85 CC ‘88 LAW, a longtime adjunct faculty member at Columbia GSAPP. Rich is remembered as a creative problem solver, a skilled negotiator, and a true champion of the City’s efforts to support so many of its most vulnerable residents. He will be greatly missed. Watch a video produced by the New York Housing Conference on the occasion of Richard Froehlich being awarded the 2015 Public Service Award.
Ebru Gencer for the last two years taught and advised students at International University of Catalonia’s Sustainable Emergency Architecture program in Barcelona, focusing on displacement and shelter issues. During this time, she also developed two Resilience Learning Modules, for United Cities Local Governments (UCLG) and UN-Habitat, which were launched at the Innovate4Cities Conference this October and currently being used by Local Government Associations worldwide. Ebru Gencer is currently part of an expert group of UNDRR and ICOMOS preparing a Words into Action Guide for Traditional Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience. The guide explores different forms of traditional knowledge – such as those of Indigenous Populations – and their application for preparing for and responding to disasters and the impacts of climate change innovatively and with experimentation. The guide will be open for public review in Spring of 2022.
Jose Luis Vallejo was recipient of the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize, an award given by the Landmark Columbus Foundation to practitioners who have a deep commitment to the transformative power that architecture, art, and design have to improve people’s lives and make cities better places to live. He also lectured at the University of Pavia in Italy, FAU University in Santiago de Chile, and the European Meeting of Architecture in Nancy, France.
Douglas Woodward held the Urban Planning Program’s first Moot City Planning Commission session on November 29 in the practicum Professional Skills and Communication he taught this semester. As part of the course’s emphasis on developing professional presentation skills, the students acted as “staff” to a hypothetical planning commission and presented a real project. The ten “moot” commissioners joining by Zoom included real current and former New York City commissioners: the current Chair of the City Planning Commission and three other longtime commissioners, the former Chair of the NYC Landmarks Commission and Board of Standards and Appeals, the president of a major BID in Brooklyn, the Chief Planner at Harvard, the former counsel to the Planning Commission, and the Senior Vice President of planning at a development firm - all major players in land use and planning in New York City. The session was very successful and the Commission praised the students’ presentation for its professionalism. The participating students were Andrea Wong Magnalardo, Yuanyuan Shen, Nile Johnson, Jiabao Sun, Hanbo Lei, and Rozette DeCastro.
Weiping Wu was appointed the Interim Dean of GSAPP, to start in January 2022. An interim director for the M.Arch program also was part of the announcement. She deeply appreciates the trust given in this opportunity to serve GSAPP and its large community. What an honor to follow the transformative leadership of Dean Andraos. She looks forward to forging collaborations to elevate GSAPP’s engagement with the critical issues across all scales of the built environment. She also is committed to directing the UP programs. Working together with you all in the last few years has been a rewarding experience, and it gives her great confidence that our programs will continue to lead the way on many fronts in the school and beyond. Together with her collaborator in Fudan University, Weiping has published “Shifting residential and employment geography: Shanghai’s bifurcated trajectory of spatial restructuring” in Cities.
In the Dean’s Lecture Series, the Urban Planning Program highlighted visiting faculty Teresa Caldeira, Professor at U.C. Berkeley. Weiping Wu, Professor and Director of the Urban Planning program at Columbia GSAPP, provided a response. The lecture, “Youth, Gender, and New Formations of Collective Life in São Paulo’s Peripheries,” focuses on the predicaments of urbanization, such as spatial segregation, social discrimination, and uses of public space in cities of the Global South. Caldeira has analyzed the processes that generate these cities, such as peripheral urbanization and autoconstruction, highlighting their inventiveness, political cartographies, and modes of collective life. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining methodologies, theories, and approaches from the different social sciences and the humanities. See more details about the event and watch the recording on the event page.
The Lectures in Planning Series continued virtually this semester. This format has allowed us to engage with a wider audience and allowed us to participate more easily. If you missed any of this semester’s lectures, you can view them on our LiPS YouTube playlist. You can subscribe to the LiPS Mailing List here to stay tuned for next semester’s speaker line-up!
The eighth Urban China Forum: Smart City and Info Universe (November 6-7, 2021) was organized by the student organization Urban China Network. This year, the forum’s intent was to analyze the impact of urban big data on global urbanization and to shed light on the future development of smart cities in China. By bringing together researchers and practitioners across disciplines, the Forum facilitated discussion of critical issues. Find the summary and recordings on the event pages of the eighth Urban China Forum here: day one and day two.
The 2021 Summer Workshop: New Paradigms of Residual Space, led by Sybil Wa and Douglas Woodward, worked to understand how the city’s path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating effect it has had on the city’s cultural and economic ecosystems could be repaired. This workshop examined the possibilities that residual space offers as usable, occupiable, and buildable space to adjacent communities, cultural institutions large and small, and to the city as a whole. The workshop had interviews and discussions with architects, urban planners, urban designers, community stakeholders, urbanists, performing arts subject area experts and took field trips to MoMA PS1, East Harlem, the High Line, Long Island City, Astoria, and DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Urban Planning Program Council welcomed Victoria Lin (MSUP ‘23) and Matthew Shore (MSUP ‘23) who were selected as the First-Year UP Program Council Representatives. They joined Derek Brennan (MSUP '22), Jiabao Sun (MSUP ‘22) and Eve Deena Passman (MSUP '22) who are the Second-Year UP Program Council Representatives. They have hosted several movie nights on Friday evenings in Wood Auditorium and a Thanksgiving Dinner this semester.
UP Program Council also initiated a peer application support program. Recognizing that applicants of color and applicants from immigrant, international, and/or low-income backgrounds often face unique challenges when seeking to enter graduate school, this initiative brings volunteer support from the current student body to assist with the applications of prospective students who have historically been underrepresented at GSAPP and higher education more broadly.
URBAN Magazine is producing its Fall 2021 issue: Metamorphosis. As URBAN marks its 20th year and the world grapples with what shape our future will take, the editors asked GSAPP peers how they imagine the future of urban life and are incorporating these visions into their work. This year’s Senior Editors are Will Cao (MSUP and MArch ‘24), Eve Deena Passman (MSUP ‘22), and Sherry Aine Chuang Te (MSUP and MArch ‘24). Junior editors are Margaret Ann Hanson (MSUP ‘23), Eliza Rose Dekker (MSUP ‘23), Varisa Tanti (MSUP ‘23), and Calvin Conley Harrison (MSUP ‘23).
In February, Urban China Network and Columbia Global Centers | Beijing jointly organized the competition Urban Reflection on COVID-19 to encourage young scholars and students to gain a deeper understanding of their field and achieve academic growth. First place prize was awarded to Zihan Sun, MSAAD '21, for a project that employs variants of “Triply Periodic Minimal Surface” to design medical capsules that provide a sense of protection while still enabling eye contact with others. Second place prize was awarded to Wei Xiao (MSUP and MArch '24) for Nonstop Manhattan, a project that re-imagines and transforms the future of the Nordstrom Flagship Store site near Columbus Circle into a flexible public stage for constant social interactions. This year, Urban China Network is led by Danqing Ma (MSUP '22), President; Yuanyuan Shen (MSUP '22), Treasurer; Shen Xin (MSUP '22), Liaison Officer and Event Planner; Yining Shen (MSUP '22) Media Officer; and Jiabao Sun (MSUP '22), Media Officer.
APA New York Metro Chapter’s Student Representative Committee welcomed Morgan Reuther (MSUP and MSRED '23) as GSAPP’s co-representative. She joins Sebastian Salas (MSUP and MSRED '22).
GreenSAPP welcomed two Urban Planning students Natalie Bartfay (MSUP ‘23) and Shreya Arora (MSUP ‘22) to lead the team. This fall, GreenSAPP participated in a park clean up at Morningside Park. The group cleared leaves from critical access points within the park, picked up trash, and cleared overgrowth and debris so that the park’s drainage system could properly function.
LatinGSAPP welcomed Andrea Wong Magnalardo (MSUP ‘23) as Co-Director, Secretary and Ari Bon (MSUP ‘23) as Communications Chair. They joined Katherin Sibel (MSUP ‘22), Co-Director, Outreach; Osvaldo Delbrey (MArch ‘22), Events Chair; and Guillermo Hevia Garcia (MSAAD ‘20), Alumni Advising Chair. Patio, the first ever Latinx student journal of architecture and planning, and winner of the 2021 Douglas Haskill Award, is debuting in print this semester. The journal’s theme, “Alterity,” is a framework that facilitates the acknowledgement of “other” as a way to decolonize the architectural curriculum and speak to the lived experience of the collaborators and beyond. Patio amplifies voices of Latinx designers in the United States and connects with global practitioners whose work focuses on the Latin American built environment.
Sebastian Bielski (MSUP ‘23) began working at the Skyscraper Museum as a research assistant. His work focuses on residential conversions in Lower Manhattan since 9/11.
Derek Brennan (MSUP ‘22), Yuning Feng (MSUP and MPH 21’), and Sori Han (MSUP ‘22) are Community Fellows with the Fund for the City of New York. They have been partnered with Community Boards across New York City to work on sanitation issues in Brooklyn CB9 and the retail landscape in Manhattan CB2.
Will Cao (MSUP and MArch ‘24) has been awarded a 2021 APA Foundation Scholarship.
Jenna Dublin (PhD Candidate) is a recipient of the 2021 Curriculum Innovation Award from ACSP and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Candice Siyun Ji (MSUP '23) completed her first semester in the Urban Planning program. Through the Urban Analytics and Human-Centered Decision Making course, she led and designed a transparency dashboard prototype for the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro. The project looks at the transparency index, creates guidelines for practice, and provides recommendations for implementation. In addition, she also developed an application model to empower community engagement for civic space design projects through the Difference and Design course. The project aims to bridge the gap between listening, learning, and informing design decisions and will be used to facilitate two-way dialogue between practitioners and community members.
Gayatri Kawlra (PhD Candidate) and Kazuki Sakamoto (MSUP ‘13), Adjunct Assistant Professor, published an article, Spatialising urban health vulnerability: An analysisof NYC’s critical infrastructure during COVID-19 in the journal Urban Studies.
Theodore Leventhal (MSUP '23) completed his first semester as an urban planning graduate student. Ted has enjoyed the sense of community in the program that stems from group projects and has written about his experience.
Sarah Mawdsley (MSUP '22) is a Graduate Research Intern at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. This fall she worked with the global research and impact team writing and helping to develop reports about mode shift, the economic benefits of cycling, and high volume transit. She worked closely with regional offices in India, Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, and China.
Stefan Norgaard (PhD Student) published several articles this semester: Trading on Terroir: Fostering Artisanal Cheese and Alcohol Production through Specialized Agrarian Industrial Districts in the journal Food Studies; Violence as a genre of urban life: Urban sustainability and (in)security in South African cities in the Journal of Urban Affairs; and his article A Walk Down NYC’s Re-Named Streets was featured in the American Association of Geographers (AAG) November Newsletter.
Eve Passman (MSUP '22) is a 2021-2022 Morgan Stanley Community Development Graduate Fellow with the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH). She is currently developing innovative strategies for financing WSFSSH’s new Aging in Place initiative. Concurrently, she is developing grants for multiple projects in WSFSSH’s portfolio and interfacing with stakeholders to assess the viability of new funding streams.
Kat Sibel (MSUP '22) has completed an independent study project using analytics, geo-tagging, and advanced cadastral mapping in Culebra. Her work is the beginning of a significant improvement in regularizing land tenure on the island. The study is aiming eliminate ownership disputes, improve the accuracy of property tax assessments, and, perhaps most importantly, help property owners prove eligibility for FEMA and other disaster-relief assistance for which they are currently unable to apply.
Michael Snidal (PhD Candidate) is a recipient of the 2021 Curriculum Innovation Award from ACSP and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Sherry Aine Te (MSUP and MArch ‘24) was Research Assistant at The Earth Institute under the Lamont-Doherty Observatory, supporting field work initiatives and outreach for ecological monitoring at the Long Island Sound. This semester, she started her coursework in Architecture, and her Core I project emphasizes mitigating the urban heat island effect for NYCHA typologies through allocating green spaces on the rooftops and cooling corridors surrounding the buildings. She used Amsterdam Houses, near Lincoln Center, as her case study.
Wei Xiao (MSUP and MArch ’24) was awarded a director’s choice for a group project “Death Farm” submitted to The Warming Competition 2021 done with Shining Hong (MArch’23) and Yingxi Dong (MArch’24). Check out the competition result here!
Yifei Zhou (MSUP ‘22) worked as a Planning & Urban Design Intern at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) Shanghai office. He helped drive quality and efficiency improvement for design productions in multiple projects. Also, he assisted in interpreting market trends of urban renewal projects in China’s Greater Bay Area by data analysis.
GSAPP Gateway is the new career services management and engagement platform for Columbia GSAPP. Students, alumni, faculty and employers are invited to join. Through this online platform, you can post and apply for jobs and internships, register for events, share your resume with employers currently recruiting at GSAPP, and network with alumni.
We are planning for our first ever all-GSAPP Virtual Employer Networking Event on February 11, 2022! We are currently seeking employers who expect to have open positions for the spring and summer of 2022 to reserve a free “booth” at this event. Our virtual platform will offer the opportunity to host information sessions with groups of students, meet with them one-on-one, and review resumes, work samples and portfolios. If you or someone from your organization is interested in participating, please email Emily Junker, UP Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org for the registration link and more information.
This semester, career services events included Gateway training workshops to introduce students to GSAPP’s career services platform; a networking best practices workshop; a portfolio workshop; and resume and cover letter workshops.
Ubaldo Escalante (MSUP ‘17) Cities Consultant, BuroHappold Engineering, gave a presentation about Buro Happold’s Cities Team on November 3.
On November 19, students met with a panel of alumni who work at AECOM. The panelists were Pauline Claremont Torche (MSUP ‘19), Urban Planner, AECOM New York; Jimmy Lu (MSUP ‘13), Senior Urban Designer, AECOM London; and Kaiqi Zhang (MSUP ‘18), Transportation Planner, AECOM New York.
The program sponsored the attendance of students to the virtual APA New York Metro Chapter Diversity Committee’s Hindsight Conference on November 4-5.
Shreya Ghoshal (MSUP and MSHP ‘20) and Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation Erica C. Avrami published Energy and Historic Buildings: Toward Evidence-Based Policy Reform in the Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development.
Eldad Gothelf (MSUP ‘04) joined the amazing team at Kasirer as Senior Vice President, Strategy. Kasirer is a top government relations and lobbying firm here in NYC, providing expert guidance in real estate strategy, problem solving, and government approvals. They navigate clients through ULURPs/rezonings, LPC and BSA approvals, construction permitting at key City agencies, community relations, and much more. Additionally, the firm guides top clients in the corporate and non-profit worlds that are in need of support from government, local communities, the City, and the State.
Lu Hao (MSUP ‘19) received an offer with scholarship to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Geography at the University of Hong Kong.
Tara Heidger (MSUP ‘19) is now working for M&C Saatchi full time managing large advertising clients doing work in Africa, including with the UN and USG. She has been able to keep up with her writing this past summer and was selected to be a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations.
Inbar Kishoni (MSUP ‘09), after 11.5 years at NYC DOT, has moved on to Lyft / CitiBike to be the Community & Equity Programs Manager.
Anna Lan (MSUP ‘09) is the Principal Planner for Austin’s Capital Metro Transportation Authority (CapMetro) where she leads the Equitable Transit-Oriented Development project as part of Project Connect.
Magda Maaoui (PhD ‘21) published “The SRU Law, twenty years later: evaluating the legacy of France’s most important social housing program” in Housing Studies August 2021 issue. The paper evaluates the impact of France’s largest mandatory inclusionary zoning program, the Loi SRU. Maaoui finds that it’s a model to replicate, and it could also be improved.
Kris (Ongoco) Romasanta (MSUP ‘10) recently started as the Development Engagement Manager for Lendlease for Google Development Ventures. The team is creating an ecological innovative district, developing on 1100 acres, 10 million square feet of office/comm/R&D, and 20k housing units in Sunnyvale, CA.
Sonah Shah (MSUP ‘08) Founder, The Urban Catalysts, shared a report on the impact of COVID-19 on women’s mobility-livelihoods linkages in South Asia, with a focus on the city of Delhi. Funded by UK Aid, through their COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, The Urban Catalysts followed a mixed methods approach that involved 800+ telephone surveys and 13 in-depth interviews with resource poor women in Delhi, 400 online surveys with female respondents and 30 surveys with (male) paratransit operators. Their reflexive learning process included a round table with women’s unions, membership-based organizations and civil society organizations in South Asia, interviews with transport experts and decision makers before and after their data collection and analysis. They finally convened a workshop with gender and transport organizations on identifying next steps. Their findings suggested that COVID-19 mobility responses risk is leaving poor women informal workers behind. Their research provides guidance on creating gender equitable transport recovery responses in Delhi, India with learnings for cities in South Asia.
Maxwell Sokol (MSUP ‘12) is joining Replica in January.
Thank you to those alumni who participated in our Virtual Alumni Networking event! On November 12, students and alumni joined on Zoom to build and maintain our UP community and networks.
Thank you 2021-2022 Mentorship Volunteers! We would like to thank the following alumni for their participation in the UP Mentorship Program this year. This year we have an enrollment of 22 mentor/mentee matches. We would also like to thank those of you who volunteered despite not being matched this time around. Each year, we try to tailor the program to the unique needs and interests of the students. This year, we have begun a list of activities that matches can partake in. This program is a great way for alumni to remain involved with Columbia’s UP community, and for students to explore the profession before they graduate. For more information about the program, please contact Emily Junker at email@example.com.