Summer/Fall 2022
Urban Design Newsletter
From the Director
We hope you’ve had a great summer, despite the trials and tribulations across the planet! Our class of 2022 graduated in May and our class of 2023 has just completed their first semester. They are all relaxing now (we hope), getting ready for the launch of the next semester in a few weeks.
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Students and faculty are thrilled to be back IN PERSON for all our classes – even though COVID remains, and we have masking and vaccine protocols still in place. A special shout out to the classes of ‘20 and ‘21 who spent some long hours on Zoom and helped test and transform our teaching and learning in important ways.

Now, we are back in Avery and Fayerweather Hall, celebrating the coming fall season and our new Dean, Andres Jaque. “Architecture now needs to be about inclusion and messiness rather than exclusion and purity,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. We could not agree more!

As always, we want to hear from you – what are you doing, seeing, hearing? Send us links, articles and events so we can share the emerging forms of urban design practice that you are piloting with the global UD community. Please help us help our graduates as they enter the professional realm, and let us know if there are new opportunities near you. 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.

I gave an extensive interview about the MSAUD Program, highlighting the work of a few faculty and our studio pedagogy model for the forthcoming publication Designing Landscape Architectural Education: Studio Ecologies for Unpredictable Futures. I am well into my 8th year as Program Director, and I couldn’t be prouder of our inspiring faculty and graduates. There is no program like it! David Smiley and I send you our very best wishes and hope you stay in touch.

Kate Orff
Professor, Director, Urban Design Program

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Program Updates
For our Spring 22 Global Studio, which wrapped in late May, we worked with the Coastal Zone Management Authority in Belize, looking at reef ecosystems and land speculation under the broader frame of Global Climate Justice. We began with an intensive week-long online charette, and conducted many shared pin ups conferences, lectures, reviews, and meetings with our site partners in Belize. Check out the studio publication titled “Resilient Belize Envisioning Climate Justice for Mesoamerican Reef Communities.” We hope that the Spring 23 Studio can travel again.
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Just two years ago we rethought our Semester 1 as the “Integrated Summer Curriculum” – aka “one big class” – in which we coordinate all the classes. Sagi Golan and Nans Voron co-coordinated the Studio, and were rejoined by Sean Gallagher, Galen Pardee, Austin Sakong. New to the team were Miriam Peterson, Sanjukta Sen and Candelaria Mas Pohmajevic, UD ‘20, Associate. Leading our Reading New York Urbanism class was Pulitzer-winning author and New York Magazine and Curbed architecture journalist Justin Davidson. He worked with veteran RNYU teacher Jesse Hirakawa. Digital Technologies welcomed back Richard Chou, who worked with Adriana Chavez and new faculty member Chris Landau. Last, but not least, Urban Design Theory since 1945 was led by Noah Chasin, which is always a thrilling and popular class.

Last time we wrote, Emanuel Admassu was starting up his F 21 Atlanta After Property studio, which was done without travel, utilizing zoom conferences, lectures, meetings and reviews to great effect, and the students did great work. See the studio publication that was produced! In a few weeks, Prof. Admassu and the Fall 22 Studio will head to the Atlanta region in person! Joined again by Nina Cooke John, Chat Travieso and new UD faculty Jelisa Blumberg, Regina Teng, A.L. Hu and Galina Novikova, UD ‘22, Associate.

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Beyond the Program
The Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes (CRCL) continues to push the intersection of climate and justice. We are organizing a University-wide event to mark the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy in late October. The Center was also a co-coordinator of the groundbreaking Green New Deal Superstudio and participated in the GND Summit where Kate Orff keynoted the Implementation Panel and facilitated a discussion with leading policy makers and practitioners. Managing Director and Spring studio faculty member Thad Pawlowski was interviewed on Design for Climate Change for this CRCL podcast and event, Cool Streets: A Conversation Toward Action.
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Faculty Updates

Noah Chasin contributed an essay to a forthcoming monograph on the multidisciplinary artist/activist/urban planner Theaster Gates. His piece, entitled “The Major Potential of a Minor Urbanism,” considers the revitalization efforts of Gates’s architectural and urban interventions. Chasin was a 2022 recipient of the Columbia University GSAS Faculty Mentoring Award.

Adriana Chávez recently presented her work on urban resilience and landscape in Mexico at the conference Bridging Scales and Disciplines: Ecological Approaches to City Building at the University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

Kaja Kühl designed two carbon-neutral micro-homes published by Parsons Healthy Materials Lab as an innovative example for hemp and lime construction. Kühl and GSAPP professor Anna Dietzsch were recently awarded a NYCSA grant to work on carbon neutral homes with the Onondaga Nation.

Kate Orff’s landscape architecture and urban design firm SCAPE continues to grow, with offices in New Orleans and San Francisco. SCAPE has a few major parks and plazas under construction in San Francisco, Memphis, New York and Washington DC.

Galen Pardee’s office, Drawing Agency, completed a second installation of their Graham Foundation-supported exhibition Territories of Territory Extraction at Woodbury University’s Wedge Gallery in Los Angeles. The firm also completed their first built project in New York City, a low-waste, adaptive reuse conversion of a mid-century apartment into a live/work space for two painters in Harlem.

Austin Sakong recently became the Design Director of the cultural and educational studio at the FXCollaborative.

Grahame Shane has joined the Steering Committee of the Genealogy of Urban Design digital platform. He recently participated in Charles Waldheim’s podcast, The Future of the American City. For the ongoing Archigram Oral Archive Project with the M+ Museum, Hong Kong, Shane interviewed Dennis Crompton, Robin Middleton, Hazel Cook, Tony Dugdale, Tom Heneghan and Sir Peter Cook. This year, he zoom-lectured at University of Seville, Milan Polytechnic, University of Stuttgart, Architectural Association, London, China Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou, and lectured in person at the University of Pennsylvania.

David Smiley reviewed two recent books in the Journal of the Society of Architecture Historians on Frank Lloyd Wright and his commissions, writing and activities in San Francisco and New York.

Chat Travieso is one of the inaugural recipients of the GSAPP Anti-Racism Curriculum Award. He was also selected as a 2022⁠–2023 Faculty Fellow for the Mellon Initiative for Inclusive Faculty Excellence at The New School. He contributed an essay – Concrete Terror: Race Barriers and Vigilantism in the United States – in the latest issue of MAS Context. His most recent public art installation called On End is on view in the Eastman Reading Garden at the Cleveland Public Library through Fall 2022 as part of the See Also program.

Alumni Updates
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(Left) City Scanner, Parul Sharma (Right) Segregation is Killing Us, Zarith Pineda

A special shout out to two UD Alums – Parul Sharma, ‘15, and Zarith Pineda, '17 who were part of the cohort awarded the 2021-2022 GSAPP Incubator Prize.

This year, the Incubator Prize was dedicated to funding alumni-led initiatives that introduce new forms of anti-racist practice and critically redefine community engagement and participation. Presentations of ten of the award winners will be held on Friday, Sept 16, starting at 1 pm (EST). Register for the online presentations here.

Dexter Moren, ‘80, has had his own practice in London since 1992, now with 70 on staff. The firm is known for hospitality design – with more than 200 hotel projects, across the globe.

Manuel Mergal, '83, worked at Cooper Robertson for many years, becoming a partner, and today has his own firm. Most recently, he was asked to design the monument for Michael Sovern – President of Columbia University from 1980 to 1993 – now installed at St. Paul’s Chapel on the campus.

Mary Rusz, ‘89, worked for almost 30 years for various NYC agencies with stints at City Planning, the Office of Design and Construction, and mostly with NYCHA. In recognition of her work, Rusz became a Fellow of the AIA in 2019. More recently, she is co-authoring a Primer on Architecture and Urbanism for young design students and is pleased to announce that her watercolor works, will be shown in October at the Salmagundi Club of New York, where she is a member.

Liza Morales, ‘92, founded Ecotecture Design Studio, based in Manila. The firm does projects of varying scales, residential to masterplan developments all with a focus on sustainability. Check them out here and here, on CNN’s segment on Leading Women.

Jacques-Emmanuel Remy, ‘93, is currently with SOFRECO, a global consultancy and technical assistance firm for sustainable economic and social development.

Surella Segú, ‘96, was recently appointed Chief Heat Officer of the city of Monterrey, in Mexico, a newly created position.

Marva Smith, ‘96, published Time to Thrive: A Busy Woman’s Devotional Journal in 2021. She was a contributing author of She Writes for Him: Black Voices of Wisdom, an anthology by 21 Black Christian women sparked by George Floyd’s murder.

Luis Fornez, '98, is the founder of a Venezuelan tech startup – Candydato – which assists with crowdfunding for elections in Latin America. He is a 2022 Democracy Tech Entrepreneur Fellow of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, and recently spoke at the Copenhagen Democracy Forum. Luis also teaches at Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Mariana Marron, '99, is an architect and, most recently, has been doing interior design work in NYC and Miami, including interior renovations of common spaces for residential buildings.

Ritu Mohanty, '99, has recently co-authored articles including “Effective Value Capturing of Mobility and Public Transportation Through Efficient Urban Planning” in Smart Cities Policies and Financing and “Streets as Ingenious Infrastructure” in Streets for All. In addition, Mohanty has been working as an Urban Design consultant for UNESCO on the Mughal Gardens of Kashmir and is currently working on the Master Plan of Auroville in South India.

Angela C. Soong & Manolo F. Ufer (Manuel Figueroa), '04, practice in Taipei, Taiwan as Ecoscope.

Ward Verbakel, ‘04, continues to run his practice, PLUSOFFICE and has started his PhD at the KU Leuven, focusing on the urbanization of villages in Flanders.

Esi-Kilanga Bowser, ‘04, is currently a Senior Project Manager at Turner Construction Company. She is currently part of the leadership team for Google’s 1.3 million square feet interior fit out of St. John’s Terminal, along the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan.

Peter Robinson, '04, was recently named vice-chair of the Board of the NY AIA’s Center for Architecture.

Raymond Sih, '06, provides green building consultancy services to developers for mixed use, office, and residential projects in Metro Manila, Philippines.

Skye Duncan, '07, is the Executive Director of the Global Designing Cities Initiative which recently launched two new handbooks to assist practitioners: “How to Implement Street Transformations,” and “How to Evaluate Street Transformations.” They have released the publication “Designing Streets for Kids” in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Turkish.

Jay Lim, Christopher Reynolds, and Erick Gregory, all '07, created the firm “25:8 Research + Design.” Now called 25:8 Architecture + Urban Design, based in Ottawa. In 2020 25:8 spun off the 5:2:8 Creative Coffee Collective, a coffee shop that is also their office – and more coffee shops are in the works. Meanwhile, Erick remained in NYC, and he is now the City’s Chief Urban Designer and Director of Urban Design at the DCP.

Gabriella Folino, '08, consults as an Urban Planner for Dyett & Bhatia, focusing on Transit Oriented Development throughout California. Folino is also working on Vibemap, a city discovery app that connects users with meaningful places, experiences, and “people that match your vibe.”

Matthew Clapper, ’11, founded MAD – Modern Architecture and Development. In 2021, Matt was the Chair of the AIA National Small Firm Exchange and this year, he was elected as a Young Architect of the Year by AIA Wisconsin. Matt also runs UD4U, a quasi-nonprofit design research and advocacy group.

Fernando Arias, '12, has been with Clark Construction for six years, and is now the Director of Sustainability, and you can read some of his posts here.

Ishita Gaur, '13, presented a paper on “redefining community” at the April, 2022, American Planning Association National Conference, and contributed an Op-Ed piece to the Architect’s Newspaper highlighting the need for well designed and accessible social amenities to address social equity. Ishita is an associate at Marvel, in New York City.

Arshia Chaudhri, '15, is a project manager and Urban Designer at AECOM India where she has been working on smart city initiatives for the remaking of Panaji, the capital of the State of Goa. For a recent first step, see this pedestrianization project. Other ongoing projects include redesigned streets across Panagi, and several smart city and redevelopment projects in the adjacent town of Ribandar. In addition, Arshia has been working for six years on the massive India International Convention & Exhibition Centre, in Dwarka, Sector 25, New Delhi.

Parul Sharma, '15, is developing City Scanner - a mobile app and tech platform that will improve the urban mobility and navigation experience of cyclists and pedestrians.

Natasha A. Trice, '15, founded The Nomad – a creative design and animation office – after working at OMA and MVRDV. She recently hosted a coffee and connect presentation at the AIA Philadelphia Annual meeting.

Despo Thoma, '16, was one of the 2021 Forefront Fellows of the Urban Design Forum. Under the theme Neighborhood Fare, Despo’s project – “New Markets for New Americans” – reframed food entrepreneurship as a means of self determination, sustainable recovery and resilience for recent immigrants in post-pandemic New York City. Despo is an Associate at SCAPE.

Majed Abdulsamad, '17 recently joined WXY as a Senior Urban Designer and is working on PACT projects with the NYC Housing Authority, envisioning how federal funding can transform affordable housing developments in Manhattan and the Bronx. He is also leading the firm’s Rochester Aqueduct Reimagined, the centerpiece project of Roc The Riverway Initiative transforming Downtown Rochester and revealing the historic Erie Canal. Back at GSAPP, Majed recently wrapped up his summer workshop, The Battle for Streets: Whose Right of Way?

Zarith Pineda, ’17, was awarded a 2022 NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship in Architecture-Environmental Structures-Design. She recently exhibited Design Transforms: Borders for NYC X Design, an exhibition dedicated to providing legal resources to undocumented people in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The exhibition was co-produced with her firm, Territorial Empathy with Central Saint Martin’s University (UCL) and Touching Land. Zarith also worked on the Non-Extractive Architecture exhibition and archive for the 2021 Venice Biennale.

Ban Edilbi, '18, worked for UN-Habitat for several years, focusing on planning and resilience issues, and recently moved to UNESCO, Natural Heritage, addressing climate change and conservation.

Duolin Kong, '18, worked for Tankhouse, a real estate company in NYC and earlier this year moved to Shanghai. She is now working at IQVIA, a life science consulting company.

Keli Wang, '18, worked at AECOM China for two years, and is now at Aedas, in Beijing, working on projects in Xiamen and Jinan as well as TOD projects in Shenzhen.

David Chonillo, '18, collaborating with Deepblocks, a proptech firm that leverages A.I. and allows users to search for development opportunities and runs data iterations of projects.

Huanyu Chen, '18 is currently working with Starr Whitehouse as an urban and landscape designer. He also joined the UD Forum, Good Form Working Group to rethink public health in the built environment. UD professors Lee Altman and Thaddeus Pawlowski are also in the working group.

Wenjun Joan Zhang, '19, returned to China because of COVID. She has built several small projects including this one.

Huang Qiu, '19, has shifted his focus and now attends the University of Washington, studying computer science and technology innovation.

Nikita K, '20, is currently an Urban Designer at Sasaki, working on domestic and international projects. She is also an Architecture Fellow at the RETI Center (Resilience, Education, Training, and Innovation) in Brooklyn, NY.

Lino Caceres, '20, has been working as a consultant for UN-Habitat’s Global Solutions Division, Climate Change Team. He contributed to the Team’s Urban Climate Action paper presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow – COP26 – in the Fall of 2021.

Kai Zhang, '21, is a designer at Kohn Pedersen Fox, New York office.

We hope you have a great Fall, wherever you are. Please shoot us an email and keep us posted on what you’re up to.
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