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AFFIRMATION 3: Design Policy

Mon, Oct 2, 2023    6:30pm

Former Deputy Mayor of New York City for Housing Vicki Been (NYU) and former Los Angeles Chief Design Officer Christopher Hawthorne (Yale) participate in the third edition of the AFFIRMATIONS series under the theme of “Design Policy.” The discussion will be followed by a response from Associate Professor of Professional Practice Adam Lubinsky (WXY) and Professor Weiping Wu.

AFFIRMATIONS is an eight-month series of discussions with designers, researchers, planners, preservationists, and activists to affirm and interrogate how to think and redesign the built environment at the intersection of climate, ecological, societal, bodily, and technological crises and defiance. As a project convened to interrogate and affirm how to think and practice the reworlding of societies and ecosystems now, AFFIRMATIONS is intended to align evidence and aspirations. It will summarize and state underrepresented histories and possible futures that emerge from the cracks in the structures of power built on the interdependency of carbonization, extractivism, colonization, racialization, anthropocentrism, inequality, patriarchy, and technocracy. GSAPP students and faculty, together with a cohort of respondents selected from all around the world through an Open Call, are participating in the discussion throughout the academic year. Learn more here.

This lecture will be hosted in Wood Auditorium at Columbia GSAPP and live-streamed on GSAPP’s YouTube channel. The cohort of respondents selected through an open call will participate through a webinar.


Vicki Been is the Judge Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, an Affiliated Professor of Public Policy of the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and faculty director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Been returned to NYU in January 2022 after serving as deputy mayor for housing and economic development of the City of New York from May 2019 to December 2021. In that role, she led 20 agencies and mayoral offices and a team of more than 30,000 people in financing the new construction and preservation of 200,000 homes on budget and two years earlier than promised; securing the first comprehensive rezonings intended to redress the lack of affordable housing in resource rich, segregated neighborhoods; revamping leadership at the nation’s largest public housing authority; and conceiving and designing a pandemic research institute to lead the world in preparing for future health emergencies. Been also previously served as Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development for the City of New York from 2014-17.

Christopher Hawthorne is Senior Critic at the Yale School of Architecture, with a secondary appointment at Yale in English. A regular contributor to the New York Times, New Yorker, and other publications, he was the architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to 2018. From 2018 to 2022 he served as the first Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles, a position appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Adam Lubinsky ’01 MArch is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia GSAPP and a Managing Principal at WXY architecture + urban design. He has a background in urban design, planning, and mobility, with more than 15 years of experience leading large-scale strategic and master plans for public and private sector clients, including extensive work for—and coordination with—New York City agencies, community development corporations, cultural institutions, and private developers. He has taught as an adjunct in the Urban Planning program at GSAPP and has also taught at Cornell University, Parsons New School for Design, and the Bartlett Schools of Architecture and Planning. Adam holds a PhD in Urban Design and Planning from University College, London; a Master of Architecture from GSAPP, and a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University.

Weiping Wu is Professor of Urban Planning, and Director of the M.S. in Urban Planning program at Columbia GSAPP, and Vice Provost for Academic Programs at Columbia University. She served as Interim Dean of the School during spring and summer 2022. At Columbia, she also is on the faculty of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and Columbia Population Research Center. Before joining Columbia in 2016, she was Professor and Chair in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University.

Trained in architecture and urban planning, Professor Wu has focused her research and teaching on understanding urban dynamics in developing countries in general and China in particular. She is an internationally acclaimed urban and planning scholar working on global urbanization with a specific expertise in issues of migration, housing, and infrastructure of Chinese cities. Her publications include nine books, as well as many articles in top international journals. Her published work has gained an increasing public presence, particularly her book The Chinese City (now in second edition). It offers a critical understanding of China’s urbanization, exploring how the complexity of Chinese cities both conforms to and defies conventional urban theories and experience of cities elsewhere around the world. Her most recent book is China Urbanizing: Impacts and Transitions, gathering an interdisciplinary group of scholars to capture the phenomenon of urbanization in its historical and regional variations, and explores its impact on the country’s socioeconomic welfare, environment and resources, urban form and lifestyle, and population and health. It also provides new perspectives to understand the transitions underway and the gravity of the progress, particularly in the context of demographic shifts and climate change.

AFFIRMATIONS is curated by Andrés Jaque, Dean of Columbia GSAPP, and Bart-Jan Polman, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at Columbia GSAPP. The event is free and open to the public.

This event content is equivalent to 1.5 AIA/CES total learning credit. Please contact events@arch.columbia.edu for more information.