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Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes

Columbia GSAPP Establishes the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes With Support From the Rockefeller Foundation
Press Release
12 February 2018

The Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) is pleased to announce the formation of the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes, dedicated to advancing an understanding of cities as dynamic systems. The Center is directed by landscape architect Kate Orff, Associate Professor and Director of GSAPP’s Architecture and Urban Design program, with Managing Director Thaddeus Pawlowski.

The Center’s inaugural project will be the creation of a groundbreaking Resilience Accelerator in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) – pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. The Resilience Accelerator will focus on high priority resilience projects in 100RC network cities in order to help them adapt and confront the impact of climate change. The Accelerator has been funded by the Rockefeller Foundation with a $3.7 million grant, of which $2.6 million will support the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at Columbia University.

“Design and planning methods are rapidly changing to face issues of climate dynamics and the need for resilient, flexible, and equitable urban landscapes. Working jointly with natural and built systems is of critical importance – it offers a way forward for communities to adapt and prepare for the future,” said Columbia GSAPP Dean Amale Andraos in announcing the Center. “We are grateful for this initial grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, which has helped to consolidate existing threads of design research at the school and to catalyze new collaborations across the University.”

The core mission of the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes is to help communities thrive in an age of climate uncertainty through convening workshops and pushing the design, funding, and implementation of innovative infrastructure projects in a range of global contexts. The Center extends Columbia University’s leadership in climate-related work and support of interdisciplinary collaborations with external partners to engage the most serious and challenging issues of our time. Through related academic programming, the Center will integrate resilience thinking into design education, bringing real-world challenges into the classroom to train future generations of design leaders. The Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes is allied with the Earth Institute’s Climate Adaptation Initiative to work across the disciplines at Columbia University by bridging design with science and policy with the goal of improving the capacity of people and places to adapt to emerging challenges.

“We have worked with cities across the world to bring together governments, NGOs, and the private sector to initiate and find solutions to the greatest urban challenges, and now it’s time to make them a reality,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “The Resilience Accelerator will identify key moments in a project’s lifecycle where we can bring people together to connect expertise, create more funding and investment opportunities, and produce better resilience outcomes. Our partnership with Columbia GSAPP will allow us to help cities test what works and create innovative designs that can serve as blueprints for urban leaders everywhere.”

The Center will convene creative minds and diverse resources to improve, accelerate, and implement resilience projects in order to better the lives of people in cities. “We will bring solutions-oriented design thinking together with a holistic approach to resilience,” Orff said. Samuel Carter, Director of the Partnership at 100RC added, “This partnership will connect city leaders with the technical expertise to make an immediate impact as they prepare for future challenges, including climate change and income inequality .”


Kate Orff is an Associate Professor and Director of the Urban Design Program at Columbia GSAPP, where she coordinates complex interdisciplinary studios centered on urban systems of the future. Her design studios and seminars focus on design for climate dynamics, and aim to discover new ways of integrating social life, infrastructure, urban form, biodiversity and community-based change. Orff is a registered landscape architect and the founder of SCAPE, an award-winning 30-person professional practice based in lower Manhattan. Among other recognitions, Kate Orff is a 2017 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and SCAPE has won national and local American Society of Landscape Architecture Awards.

Thaddeus Pawlowski is an urban designer focused on adapting cities to climate change. Working in New York City government from 2004-2017, he has sought to integrate adaptation and resilience into the development patterns of the city through the design of projects, policies and programs. After Hurricane Sandy, he worked with the Mayor’s Office to create disaster recovery programs and help communities navigate the complex landscape of recovery and resilience. Pawlowski teaches at Columbia GSAPP and was a 2015 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University.

About Columbia GSAPP
Among the world’s leading research universities, Columbia University in the City of New York continuously seeks to advance the frontiers of scholarship and foster a campus community deeply engaged in the complex issues of our time. Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) offers a range of programs in architecture, historic preservation, planning, real estate development, and urban design that bring together imagination, experimentation, and critical thinking towards new forms of practice. Columbia GSAPP is committed to shaping a more equitable, sustainable, and creative world by engaging architecture and the built environment from diverse and global perspectives. The school functions as an urban condenser of ideas and drives innovation and change through the leadership of its faculty, the excellence of its academic programs, the expansion of interdisciplinary opportunities as well as the richness of its research initiatives and events.
About 100 Resilient Cities
100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a Resilience Strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges.