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GSAPP Incubator Prize Recipients

The GSAPP Incubator seeks to expand the territory between academia and the profession, and promotes new models of practice by supporting alumni in the development of a wide range of new ideas and projects about architecture, contemporary culture, and the future of the city. Initially founded as a co-working space in 2014 at the New Museum’s NEW INC platform, it was relaunched as the GSAPP Incubator Prize in 2019.

2021–22

Nelson De Jesus Ubri ‘21 M. Arch/MSRED

Community Development Toolkit & Clinic

Community Equity Investigators (CE-I) aims to examine the viability of novel shared ownership and community equity models at the pre-development stage, during which eighty to ninety percent of the project’s value is created. Through this work, CE-I will support community interest in greater agency at the grass-roots level, which leads to increased affordability, shared equity and generational wealth.

CE-I’s primary vehicle for equity exploration is the Community Development Toolkit & Clinic project. Built in collaboration with local non-profit partners, the toolkit generates a framework for community work on financial feasibility studies, site acquisition analyses and conceptual architectural schemes. This framework sets up the foundation for CE-I’s Community Development Clinic series, which are run within vacant, high-visibility storefronts in Harlem and the Bronx. The clinic’s dual objective is to serve community developers, non-profit organizations and tenant groups with an expressed interest in pilot real estate projects while revitalizing the streetscape in recovering COVID-19 hotspots. The project’s geographic foci comprise four of the Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTAs) with the highest eviction filing rate across Harlem and the South Bronx: Central Harlem South (MN11, ~18%), Washington Heights (M36, ~20%), East Tremont (BX17, ~35%), and Claremont Village (BX30, ~38%).

Nelson De Jesus Ubri received his Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Real Estate Development from Columbia GSAPP in 2021 and his BFA from Parsons the New School for Design in 2015. His professional experience comprises analytical research, real estate development and architectural design.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with fellow Prize recipient Luis Miguel Pizano ‘21 MARCH MSRED.

Nelson de jesus ubri luis miguel pizano
Mustafa Faruki ‘10 M.Arch

Reimagine Architecture

The deficit of Black voices in architecture, pronouncedly registering itself in our present condition in which 48 million Black people in America (amounting to 15% of the population) must live their lives in a built environment generated by a body of professionals that is 98% non-black, is unethical and staggering. That this asymmetry is reproduced in and produced by the architectural academy are facts that, by now, should provoke little serious debate. Reimagine Architecture is an afterschool program that will address this obviously exclusionary practice by catalyzing a new interest in pursuing architectural education among BIPOC high school students at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (BAVPA). The program will channel this interest towards the development of competitive applications for admission into undergraduate architecture programs. Reimagine Architecture will additionally foster a cross-pollination between participating students at BAVPA and undergraduate architecture students in “The X Project,” a design research seminar to be held at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning in the Spring of 2022.

Luiza Furia ‘20 M.Arch

Hack the HVAC (…Or, Breathing Is Not A Metaphor)

The history of mechanical air conditioning is the history of the American model of comfort. It is also a history of racial segregation and of the destruction of everyday places of antiracist resistance. The comfort defined in twentieth century America by a white middle class is in conflict with the survival of those who are otherwise vulnerable. Breathing has become a political category. Breath, or lack thereof, has become a stand-in for the oppression and the invalidation of Black lives in the U.S, ever since Eric Garner uttered, “I can’t breathe.”

But Breathing is not a metaphor.

Breathing is enmeshed with cognitive and emotional functions, and unlike other physiological processes, breathing is under our direct control. Incredibly, volitionally controlled change in respiratory behavior can systematically modulate cortical activity. Can conscious breathing become a tool to develop strategies of resistance to the current political crisis?

Hack the HVAC is a research and design project that explores actuated environments for embodied ethics and activism. This project translates research in cognition, breath, and collectivity into a fabricated architectural prototype that physically manifests users’ breathing. Personal respiration frequencies are integrated with architectural air systems as individual breath is recorded and reflected. Individual breath frequency is used to control the surrounding environment, while the environment in turn affects breath.

AC needs to be refashioned in service of those lost small everyday places of resistance.Hack the HVAC will serve to undermine the dominant models of the comfort zone that have been dictated to us and explore comfort as a means of building collectivity instead of as an end in itself.

Luiza Furia received her Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2020. She is currently an architectural designer at Beyer Blinder Belle in New York, and is pursuing research for the 2022 Arctic Circle Residency Program.

Fabrizio Furiassi ‘19 MSAAD

Central and East Harlem have recently topped the charts as Manhattan’s least digitally connected districts. Both of their Community Board statements feature access to stable wifi as a priority, pointing to the digital divide between low- and high- income families that have widened during the Covid-19 pandemic. As internet access has become essential to obtaining vital health information, public assistance, and education, the project aims to provide tangible and immediate relief for households lacking this very basic infrastructure.

Uni(wi)fied proposes the construction of community-owned wifi networks for underserved communities in Harlem. The project seeks the design and development of free wifi “antenna” structures to be placed along residential streets of the neighborhood, incorporating artistic contributions from local BIPOC artists while providing stable and free, high-quality, high-speed internet service for all residents. In its inaugural year, the project will focus on prototyping structures that house and elevate wifi nodes for one or more testing sites. These nodes will serve as catalysts for expanding a self-sustaining wifi system in Harlem and deliver sculptural and culturally-grounded structures that demarcate a new model of community empowerment. The project will engage and partner with local institutions and activists in Harlem.

This project is being developed by Distributed Architecture (Fabrizio Furiassi, Columbia ‘19 MSAAD + Catherine Ahn, Princeton ‘20 Post-Pro MArch).

Fabrizio Furiassi received his Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2019, and his MArch and BSc from La Sapienza University of Rome. He currently teaches architectural history and theory at Parsons The New School, and is a PhD candidate at the University of Basel. Fabrizio is the founding partner of Distributed Architecture, a New York-based collaborative practice committed to designing participatory and investigative processes that bring equality, diversity, and inclusion into the built environment.

Instagram: distributed_architecture, fabrizio_furiassi, aanaanse

Fabrizio furiassi 1
Fabrizio furiassi 2
Aayushi Joshi ‘20 MSAAD

We, Mumbaikars

This research project seeks to investigate and document the repercussions of Mumbai’s infrastructural development on the indigenous occupational-driven settlement. The Koli Community and ‘Koliwada’ form an important heritage that represents the remnants of the culture, trade, livelihood, and evidence of the rich history of Mumbai’s birth. The community is a self-sustaining settlement that practices fishing off its coast, forming the biggest supply of seafood in Mumbai but are barely educated out of their family business.

As the maximum city has been developing, Koliwada, the original habitant of Mumbai, has been a victim of urbanization policies, relocation threats, flood severities, and sanitation hazards. The latest, irreversible threat today is the ongoing construction of a massive 8-lane18-mile Coastal Road around the western land of Mumbai, that has altered the coastal landscape of the city.

The project seeks to build a critical system that observes, strategizes the inclusion of many such communities. The project looks to generate contemporary solutions to environmental and policy-driven city changes that eventually structure an ‘inclusive city.‘

Aayushi Joshi received her Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2020. As a recipient of the William Kinne Fellow Prize 2020, she is running research on the community of UNESCO WHS- Hampi, India. She is currently working at Handel Architects, New York as a designer and sPare, Mumbai as a researcher.

Zarith Pineda ‘17 MSAUD

Segregation is Killing Us

Women and people of color have been largely excluded from architecture and urban planning in New York City, instead, it has been shaped by folks who don’t understand the needs of the communities they serve, harming marginalized residents through exclusionary planning practices. Our city was carefully designed to favor certain folks at the expense of others, and consequently, efforts to mediate this trauma and achieve equity must be equally deliberate. Today, in New York City Black and Latinx residents are 2x more likely to die from COVID-19, communities already struggling have been unconscionably devastated. To that end, through Territorial Empathy, the design collective I founded in 2019, we’ve been studying the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on historically marginalized neighborhoods. The research is presented in a multimedia platform titled Segregation is Killing Us. Its continued spatial analysis has uncovered vast inequities in outcomes depending on race, socioeconomic status, and location. Since its launch, Segregation is Killing Us has been used to support equitable education, civic engagement, and housing policies as part of the citywide recovery effort.

Territorial Empathy
Luis Miguel Pizano ‘21 M. Arch/MSRED

Community Development Toolkit & Clinic

Community Equity Investigators (CE-I) aims to examine the viability of novel shared ownership and community equity models at the pre-development stage, during which eighty to ninety percent of the project’s value is created. Through this work, CE-I will support community interest in greater agency at the grass-roots level, which leads to increased affordability, shared equity and generational wealth.

CE-I’s primary vehicle for equity exploration is the Community Development Toolkit & Clinic project. Built in collaboration with local non-profit partners, the toolkit generates a framework for community work on financial feasibility studies, site acquisition analyses and conceptual architectural schemes. This framework sets up the foundation for CE-I’s Community Development Clinic series, which are run within vacant, high-visibility storefronts in Harlem and the Bronx. The clinic’s dual objective is to serve community developers, non-profit organizations and tenant groups with an expressed interest in pilot real estate projects while revitalizing the streetscape in recovering COVID-19 hotspots. The project’s geographic foci comprise four of the Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTAs) with the highest eviction filing rate across Harlem and the South Bronx: Central Harlem South (MN11, ~18%), Washington Heights (M36, ~20%), East Tremont (BX17, ~35%), and Claremont Village (BX30, ~38%).

Luis Miguel Pizano received his Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Real Estate Development from Columbia GSAPP in 2021 and his BA from Columbia University in 2013. His professional experience spans real estate development, architectural design, and product strategy.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with fellow Prize recipient Nelson de Jesus Ubri ‘21 MARCH MSRED.

Nelson de jesus ubri luis miguel pizano
Parul Sharma ‘15 MSAUD

City Scanner

City Scanner is a crowdsourced navigation app and tech platform that provides tailored mobility experiences for cyclists, pedestrians, and micro-mobility users. As the NextDoor of urban mobility, the platform aims to improve trip planning, provide real-time navigation, and create a supportive virtual community of fellow Scanners for traditionally vulnerable road users. City Scanner therefore aims to empower these users with hyper-local information about their urban surroundings and provide AI-based route recommendations based on the desired travel experience, such as safety, efficiency, or leisure. Ultimately, City Scanner aims to transform everyday commuter experiences from endangering to enjoyable for all.

India is the road crash fatalities capital of the world, and, on average, over two-thirds of all daily commutes in urban India happen on foot, bicycle or motorised two-wheeler. These road users also experience the highest rates of road crashes and fatalities in the country. As a result, India’s capital, New Delhi, has been selected as the pilot location of the project, due to its potential for large-scale impact and replicability in the Global South.

Parul Sharma is an architect and urban designer based in New Delhi, India, with over a decade of experience in the field of urban planning, design, and architecture in India and the US. She founded City Scanner in February 2021 to fuse her professional experience with her love for walking and exploring cities. Having lived and grown up around the world, she strives to make everyday urban mobility enjoyable, efficient, and inclusive for all, world-over. Parul graduated from the Master’s program in Architecture and Urban Design (MSAUD) from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), Columbia University, in 2015, where she received the Kinne Traveling Fellows Prize. She is currently an Urban Designer at the UN-Habitat India. When she’s not caught up with how to make cities thrive, she loves to sketch, travel, play badminton, and stroke her cat, Allegra, like an evil genius.

LinkedIn
Instagram: thecityscanner
Email: cityscannerapp@gmail.com

Parul sharma 2
Parul sharma 1
Adam Susaneck ‘20 M.Arch

Segregation by Design

This ongoing project aims to document the destruction of communities of color due to red-lining, “urban renewal,” and freeway construction. Through a series of stark aerial before-and-after comparisons, figure-ground diagrams, and demographic data, this project will visually reveal the extent to which the American city was methodically hollowed out based on race. The project will cover the roughly 180 municipalities which received federal funding from the 1956 Federal Highway Act, which created the interstate highway system.

Since the creation of the Interstate, freeway planning has been an integral tool in the systematic, government-led segregation of American cities. Used not only as a direct means to destroy the communities in their paths, freeways have also been used to cement racial segregation and ensure its endurance. Working synergistically with the legacy of redlining, freeway planning became the ultimate enforcement mechanism: literal walls of concrete and smog that separated black communities from white. In the name of the thinly veiled racist policies of “urban renewal,” the freeways took the red lines off the map and built them in the physical world.

This project will make salient not only those displaced directly in the paths of the freeways themselves, but also how these freeways have deliberately cemented an enduring segregation. This project is intended to be a visual companion to such works as Richard Rothstein’s “Color of Law,” and Heather McGhee’s “The Sum of Us,” going city-by-city to see how the tactics of segregation played out on the ground. In addition, this project has been and aims to continue providing materials and support to local groups opposing freeway expansion, such as the proposed expansions to the I45 in Houston and the I5 in Portland (each of which would displace hundreds).

Segregation by Design
Segregation by Design
Luciana Varkulja ‘12 MSAAD

RE-Forest: Searching Beyond The Material Catalog

We see forests as commodity producers. But they are also places of territorial instability, which leads to food insecurity, connecting people with issues of deforestation, forest degradation and illegal activities in the search for income increase. Which strategies would help communities grow economically while preserving the forest? Could those ideas more clearly integrate the voice of native peoples, harvesters and small farmers? The focus of this research is the Amazon and the Atlantic Forest biomes in Brazil. The Tupi indigenous peoples in their more than 1,000 years of coexistence with the Atlantic Forest, had the ability to know and name the biodiversity of the tropical forest. The relative lack of interest of the European colonizers in this knowledge can be considered tragic for the formation of colonial—and why not to say—Brazil nowadays. The project will connect with organizations that are carrying out agroforestry and regenerative agriculture systems in the sparse regions with remnants of the Atlantic Forest—which has 12% left from its original formation—investigating and documenting those efforts, associating the knowledge of indigenous peoples and communities in order to recognize possible strategies to inspire the complex relationships that exist in the Amazon biome.

Luciana Varkulja received her Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2012, and her Bachelor in Architecture and Urban Design from University of São Paulo, in Brazil. She is the founder and principal of uma architecture & design, a design and research practice currently studying the politics of extraction and issues of the supply chain. She is an Adjunct Professor at USC School of Architecture and a Senior Lecturer at Otis College of Art and Design.

Luciana varkulja 1
Luciana varkulja 2
Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong ‘10 M.Arch

Reflective Urbanisms: Mapping NY Chinatown

This project will tell stories about New York’s Manhattan Chinatown community through its architecture. By cataloging the transformations NY Chinatown’s architecture has undergone over time, and by collecting stories that span generations about its streets, buildings, and activities, this project will document the histories of a systematically marginalized and ignored place and its people.

This project is a New York-specific edition of a body of work initiated several years ago that focuses on Chinatown’s architectural stories: including retracing the histories of Calgary Chinatown’s buildings through its community stories, publications, and dialogues with a greater network of Chinatowns across North America to build resilience amidst the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on our Chinatowns.

With Reflective Urbanisms: Mapping NY Chinatown, stories will be gathered through community engagement sessions and interviews with the owners, stewards and residents of Manhattan Chinatown buildings, in addition to photographed portraits of these community members alongside the structures themselves. A compendium of these stories will be shared online in an interactive map. REFLECTIVE URBANISMS: MAPPING NY CHINATOWN aims to empower our Chinatown community to honor, celebrate and preserve our stories by telling, and re-writing, our personal and community histories.

Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong received her Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2010 and her BA in Art and Italian Studies from U.C. Berkeley. As a public artist working at the boundary of art and architecture, she creates site-specific architectural interventions that activate underused public spaces. Her work has been commissioned by the NY State Thruway Authority, NYC Parks, City of Inglewood, City of Calgary and Washington DC Government Percent for Art, amongst others. Wong is a founding partner of experiential design studio WITH WITH.

Instagram: @cherylwzw
LinkedIn

Cheryl wing zi wong 1
Cheryl wing zi wong 2

2020–21

Sean Ansanelli ‘13 MSUP

“makeithappen.city” is a platform that strives to provide an end-to-end solution for more distributed and democratic urban planning - from initial visions to long term reinvesting in communities. The COVID-19 crisis has shown us how many aspects of our system are under tremendous strain and deeply interwoven (particularly those of inequality, race/power, and health). This moment demands an extensive re-imaging of nearly every dimension of our cities and daily lived experiences, and makeithappen.city is designed specifically with this goal in mind.

Sean Ansanelli received his Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia GSAPP in 2013.

Carlo Bailey ‘15 MARCH
Platea

Platea is a platform that enables users to make better and more conscious decisions about where to live. By gathering data from thousands of sources, we are democratizing place data and providing rich insights to support sustainability, affordability, and equity in our cities. Choosing where to live is political, with far reaching consequences for the neighborhoods we inhabit. A neighborhood’s tax base, rent and house prices all rise and fall based on the residents that choose to live there; and as a result, funding for schools, upkeep of public services, and demographic diversity are all impacted. Platea, an open-source platform, aims to achieve multifaceted impact by: (1) shifting the desirability of neighborhoods and apartments from “affordable and good looking” to “equitable, fair and sustainable”; (2) enable users to navigate conflicting trade-offs in an informed way; (3) increasing awareness of the social, economic and environmental implications of choosing where to live at the neighborhood and city scale.

Carlo Bailey received his Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2015 and a BA from Kingston University, London in 2009. He works on the data analytics & insights team at Squarespace and co-leads graduate classes on urban analytics at the Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at CUNY.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with fellow Prize recipient Lorenzo Villaggi ‘15 MARCH.

Lorenzo villaggi carlo bailey
Platea by Lorenzo Villaggi ‘15 MARCH and Carlo Bailey ‘15 MARCH
Zoe Kauder Nalebuff ‘20 MSCCCP

America: The New Domestic Landscape

America: The New Domestic Landscape is a research project about architecture’s role in propagating a climate of fear for a city and its inhabitants. As cities confront both COVID and climate change, a looming culture of anxiety exacerbates the mental and physical health consequences of each crisis. We believe that architecture must prioritize affect as a framework for addressing health and climate. And that to do so requires historical understanding.Through archival material we consider architecture’s relationship to historical anxieties about the postindustrial metropolis, the disintegration of the social safety net, and the media infatuation with danger which all precipitate the present. Inspired by the legacy of experimental filmmaking in architecture, we test documentary film as an expanded mode of practice. This allows us to critically unpack archival footage in its native media, point to the affective power of film, and make visible how the built environment—just like cinema—is a project of power and control. The Incubator Prize supports the production of a pilot episode introducing the home as a site where fear in and of the city takes hold.

Zoe Kauder Nalebuff received her Master of Science in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices from Columbia GSAPP in 2020, and her BA in Geography from the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on storage, archives, and systems of control. She wants your healthcare to be free.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with fellow Prize recipient Alexandra Tell ‘20 MSCCCP.

Panic Button Personal Protection Alarm manufactured by Clairol
Panic Button Personal Protection Alarm manufactured by Clairol
Palvasha Sophia Khan ‘20 MSAUD

Lots of People

This project attempts to challenge the repeating pattern of unutilized lots in the city fabric, and address the shortage in public space that cities are facing due to massive developments and increases in population - all while addressing climate challenges such as flash floods, heat islands effect, and lack of shading.  Introducing a smart model of “Borrowing Space Concept” addresses these gaps within the dense cities by encouraging public-private partnerships. Leveraging timeframes (scope) of vacant lots until they obtain permits, a sizable amount of temporary public spaces - “Pop-ups” could be allocated to benefit the needs of the community: temporary community pop-up spaces designed on privately-owned lots and semi-permanent spaces on public lots. The project aims to further explore this concept, design interventions, public engagement process, policies, and implementation in varying contexts and climate conditions worldwide. Using private entities for public good has the opportunity to provide quality public spaces, promote sustainable design, and give equal resources to the diverse communities within the city. The project aims to develop on multiple scales and locations in the future to introduce this concept and idea.

Palvasha Sophia Khan received her Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2020. She lived in multiple cities and countries where she developed her interest in observing and designing cities. She started her B.Arch at the National College of Arts, Pakistan, and then studied as a transfer student at Pratt Institute, New York in 2016. She aspires to be an entrepreneur and keep exploring different avenues of the city’s design and the changing world.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with fellow Prize recipients Einat Lubliner ‘20 MSAUD and Yile Xu '20 MSAUD.

Pop-up urban intervention of a bright yellow play area in a vacant lot along a busy street
“Lots of People” by Palvasha Sophia Khan ‘20 MSAUD, Einat Lubliner '20 MSAUD, and Yile Xu '20 MSAUD
Maider Llaguno-Munitxa ‘10 MSAAD
Urban Microenvironments

Environmental inequity is one of the most critical contemporary urban challenges. The death rates from the pathogenic respiratory disease SARS-CoV-2 virus have shown disconcerting spatial patterns disproportionally affecting low income neighborhoods which are often environmentally most disadvantageous. Through mobile urban sensing technologies, we have also recently learnt that within an urban block distance, the air quality conditions can get up to 8 times worse. Following our prior work on environmental neighborhoods where urban environmental health metrics were shown to be directly affected by local urban design parameters such as building heights or roof geometries, our ambition is to develop a methodology which correlates environmental conditions and architectural and urban design traits to generate a critical pathway for future scenario planning. Datasets on the physical attributes, socioeconomic metrics and environmental parameters have been collected for various cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, or London, to develop a comparison of the areas with most compromised urban environmental health conditions.

Maider Llaguno-Munitxa received her Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2010. Maider is currently Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture CAMD at Northeastern University and director at AZPML. After completing her PhD at the ETH Zurich in 2016, Maider joined the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University as a postdoctoral research associate.

Data Visualization of Princeton by Maider Llaguno-Munitxa '10 MSAAD
Data Visualization of Princeton by Maider Llaguno-Munitxa ‘10 MSAAD
Einat Lubliner ‘20 MSAUD

Lots of People

This project attempts to challenge the repeating pattern of unutilized lots in the city fabric, and address the shortage in public space that cities are facing due to massive developments and increases in population - all while addressing climate challenges such as flash floods, heat islands effect, and lack of shading.  Introducing a smart model of “Borrowing Space Concept” addresses these gaps within the dense cities by encouraging public-private partnerships. Leveraging timeframes (scope) of vacant lots until they obtain permits, a sizable amount of temporary public spaces - “Pop-ups” could be allocated to benefit the needs of the community: temporary community pop-up spaces designed on privately-owned lots and semi-permanent spaces on public lots. The project aims to further explore this concept, design interventions, public engagement process, policies, and implementation in varying contexts and climate conditions worldwide. Using private entities for public good has the opportunity to provide quality public spaces, promote sustainable design, and give equal resources to the diverse communities within the city. The project aims to develop on multiple scales and locations in the future to introduce this concept and idea.

Einat Lubliner received her Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2020, her Bachelor of Architecture at The Technion University in Israel in 2014 and participated in an exchange program at TUdelft in the Netherlands in 2013. Moving between cities and exploring different realities and challenges is a major part of developing her agenda as an Architect and Urbanist. Einat is currently an Urban Designer at BIG, and volunteers as a part of an advocacy group with the community and Transportation Alternatives to a more connected and safer Eastern Queens Greenway.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with fellow Prize recipients Palvasha Sophia Khan ‘20 MSAUD and Yile Xu '20 MSAUD.

Twelve variations of pop-up interventions to support different activities such as a food shelter, outdoor gym, or bar
“Lots of People” by Palvasha Sophia Khan ‘20 MSAUD, Einat Lubliner '20 MSAUD, and Yile Xu '20 MSAUD
Frank Mandell ‘20 MArch

Nature is Everyone’s Business

Nature is Everyone’s Business is a game of carbon emissions trading, offsetting, and corporate greenwashing. Engaging with the standards and strategies that compose the US voluntary carbon market, players will compete and collaborate for power and profit at the potential cost of the planet. It transforms a series of deliberately opaque policies into easily learnable rules that, through participation, reveals contemporary financial mechanisms to fund carbon sequestration projects and ineffective climate solutions. In a landscape where policy is inaccessible to the stakeholders made most vulnerable by changes, the game allows players to actively engage with the decisions made in corporate boardrooms and community board meetings, on the game board. Through a critical systemic legibility of the voluntary carbon market’s neoliberal environmental transformations, Nature is Everyone’s Business will serve as a strategic platform for revealing and generating contemporary climate solutions.

Frank Mandell received his Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2020. He previously received a Master of Arts from the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London, and Bachelor of Arts from Bard College. He works as an Architectural Designer in New York, and is currently developing the project karbonfunkc.io for the 2020 Percival & Naomi Goodman Fellowship with Max St. Pierre and Kate McNamara.

Kate McNamara ‘20 MArch

Carbon Futures

Carbon Futures is a proposal to develop a series of speculative financial models and prototypes for the emissions trading market that would allow for the generation of credits through financializing carbon sequestering building materials and sustainable infrastructures at the building scale. Following in the footsteps of the financialization of nature, it proposes new frameworks that dissolve an immaterial market of carbon credits, into a material market of carbon sequestering building materials and strategies. Carbon Futures is an attempt to pursue the mitigation of climate catastrophe at all costs, even within a predatory, exploitative market economy.

Kate McNamara received her Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2020, and her BA in Mathematics from Swarthmore College in 2012. Kate is currently a designer at Dattner Architects, and is pursuing research for the 2020 Percival and Naomi Goodman Fellowship with Frank Mandell and Max St. Pierre.

Eduardo Meneses ‘20 MArch

Country Sewers: From the Home to the Town

This project is a research proposal for reworking failing wastewater and sewage infrastructures with the goal of documenting and developing prototypes of alternative wastewater solutions, at both the scale of the house and that of the city, for rural communities in Southern Alabama. The research builds from information and work being done by community organizations that are advocating to end the gross inequalities that overwhelm the US. While plumbing and sewage management is often thought of as guaranteed, for many in smaller communities, outdated systems have resulted in growing concerns for the health and well-being for many residents. In areas where septic tanks, retention ponds, and wastewater lagoons reign supreme, to update these systems is not just only a question of how to update, but how much it will cost to update.  At its core, ‘Country Sewers’ is an attempt to redistribute architectural energy and expand the discipline to better support a greater number of smaller communities.

Eduardo Meneses received his Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2020. Currently, he is researching, collecting vibes, and figuring out where architecture can intervene, what it’s limits are, and how a design practice could operate.

Data Visualization of population data extruded from a map of Alabama
“Country Sewers” by Eduardo Meneses ‘20 MArch
Rafaela Olivares ‘20 MSAAD

Non-typology: Ollas Comunes

This proposal seeks to put together a catalog of all the “ollas comunes” across the country happening in the soccer fields, the community centers, the squares or in the hybridization of them, documenting the spatiality of the system, interactions and the diverse activities that take place around them, understanding that the soccer field, the community center and the square are the urban typological elements that have conditioned the public space on Chilean popular neighborhoods the most. This catalog is not an attempt to solve the spatiality of the “ollas comunes” but rather a way to define guidelines to generate an operating manual for creating new spaces for community interaction around cooking, eating, leisure and meeting.

The system created by the urban typologies and the layer of domestic activities is questioning the boundaries of the domestic and the public, a new space of cooperation that does not correspond with any known typology. A non-typology that not only arises as a crisis response but triggering permanent new public ways of domestic interaction.

Rafaela Olivares received her Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2020. This proposal is being developed in conjunction with Ernesto Silva ‘13 MSAAD. Olivares and Silva are the founding partners of estudio sin—apellido, an architectural practice focused on projects that are pushing to the limit their programmatic and typological conditions. They are currently teaching in different undergraduate and graduate schools of architecture in Chile.

Rafaela olivares 3
“Non-typology: Ollas Comunes” by Rafaela Olivares ‘20 MSAAD
James Piacentini ‘20 MArch, '20 MSUP

TREE.3

TREE.3 [tree3.io] is an interactive, web-based data visualization platform aimed at providing architects, designers, developers, urbanists, and advocates up-to-date knowledge of the global distribution of mass timber construction and its impacts on forest-to-city and forest-to-forest carbon networks. Global climate networks are deeply connected to the health of cities, particularly in relation to the employment of emerging ‘sustainable’ timber construction. The project aims to ask and answer two fundamental questions underpinning the incredible growth of heavy timber: (1) Where does our wood come from? and (2) What are the global impacts of our local interventions? TREE.3 will provide a dynamic and controllable interface encouraging users to investigate the ecological pathways that underscore architectural production. The site will provide users an inventive and dynamic modality to explore the cross- scalar relationships between the production of architectural and urban spaces, the carbon and climate networks that tie them to their natural forest sources, and the larger health and sustainability implications of these networks. TREE.3 is being developed in conjunction with Eric Pietraszkiewicz ‘18 MSUP.

James Piacentini received his Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia GSAPP in 2020 and his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from UC Berkeley. Before studying at GSAPP, James was a Fulbright Scholar affiliated with the Sapienza University of Rome, and is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2020 GSAPP Visualization Prize. He has professional experience in design, development, and planning, and recently began working as a cartographer at Apple.

Data Visualization by James Piacentini '20 MArch, '20 MSUP
Data Visualization by James Piacentini ‘20 MArch, '20 MSUP
Linda Schilling Cuellar ‘18 MSAUD

(EXTRACTOPIA) And then what?: New world-making strategies

(EXTRACTOPIA) And then what? Is a project proposal to research and enact possibilities of new modes of living by repurposing the discrete extraction infrastructures atomized throughout the Chilean landscape. In our Climate Crisis age, the research has a departure point that sees these economies as obsolete. Their infrastructures soon to be vestigial spatial arrangements that can be reclaimed by the communities it once enacted microaggressions on to. With case studies that look into cooper and avocados, the project will test the untapped potential of extractive economies loose ends with strategies that bring back agency and accelerate a paradigm shift in livelihoods and multispecies coexistence.

Linda Schilling received her Master of Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2018 and her Bachelor Degree in Architecture from UTFSM in Valparaíso, Chile. She is a founding partner of AHORA, a research and design practice with Claudio Astudillo (UTFSM 10`). She currently teaches at Universidad Andrés Bello and Universidad Las Américas in Chile.

Los Vilos morning fog nearby a eucalyptus plantation, a co-opted nature-based strategy to deal with waste ware from the cooper sludge. (“Los Pelambres” mine in Chile).
Los Vilos morning fog nearby a eucalyptus plantation, a co-opted nature-based strategy to deal with waste ware from the cooper sludge. (“Los Pelambres” mine in Chile). Photo by Linda Schilling Cuellar ‘18 MSAUD.
Amewusika “Sika” Sedzro ‘13 MSUP

This project is a pilot that will create a crowd-sourced cloud application that will serve as a repository for tracking the economic and environmental impacts of climate change in Sub-Saharan African coastal cities. The pilot will focus specifically on the Ghanaian coastal cities of Aflao, Keta, Winneba, Accra, Sekondi-Takoradi, Axim, Cape Coast, and Elmina. In these cities, both lagoons and coastlines have been ravaged by climate change. This phase of the project focuses on identifying and testing two use cases for the first iteration of a cloud application. The Bit City Collective will engage traders, physical planners, scientists, and climatologists to track tidal data, economic data, and changes to land cover.

Amewusika “Sika” Sedzro received her Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia GSAPP in 2013 and a Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College in 2001. She was the Columbia University’s Africa Institute’s Leitner Family Fellowship recipient in 2012 and served as a Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Fellow between 2016 and 2019. She presently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Uncut Lab, a Boston-based software development company that coordinates the Bit City Collective, a multi-country collaboration focused on climate change, urban development, and environmental technologies.

Alexandra Tell ‘20 MSCCCP

America: The New Domestic Landscape

America: The New Domestic Landscape is a research project about architecture’s role in propagating a climate of fear for a city and its inhabitants. As cities confront both COVID and climate change, a looming culture of anxiety exacerbates the mental and physical health consequences of each crisis. We believe that architecture must prioritize affect as a framework for addressing health and climate. And that to do so requires historical understanding.Through archival material we consider architecture’s relationship to historical anxieties about the postindustrial metropolis, the disintegration of the social safety net, and the media infatuation with danger which all precipitate the present. Inspired by the legacy of experimental filmmaking in architecture, we test documentary film as an expanded mode of practice. This allows us to critically unpack archival footage in its native media, point to the affective power of film, and make visible how the built environment—just like cinema—is a project of power and control. The Incubator Prize supports the production of a pilot episode introducing the home as a site where fear in and of the city takes hold.

Alexandra Tell received her Master of Science in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2020, and her BA in Art History from Oberlin College. Her work looks at the intersections of media, environmentalism, and spatial politics. Her writing has been published in BOMB Magazine, Places Journal, and The Avery Review, among others.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with Zoe Kauder Nalebuff ‘20 MSCCCP.

Patent Drawing for a home security system that utilizes TV surveillance
Patent Drawing for a home security system that utilizes TV surveillance
Lorenzo Villaggi ‘15 MARCH

Platea

Platea is a platform that enables users to make better and more conscious decisions about where to live. By gathering data from thousands of sources, we are democratizing place data and providing rich insights to support sustainability, affordability, and equity in our cities. Choosing where to live is political, with far reaching consequences for the neighborhoods we inhabit. A neighborhood’s tax base, rent and house prices all rise and fall based on the residents that choose to live there; and as a result, funding for schools, upkeep of public services, and demographic diversity are all impacted. Platea, an open-source platform, aims to achieve multifaceted impact by: (1) shifting the desirability of neighborhoods and apartments from “affordable and good looking” to “equitable, fair and sustainable”; (2) enable users to navigate conflicting trade-offs in an informed way; (3) increasing awareness of the social, economic and environmental implications of choosing where to live at the neighborhood and city scale.

Lorenzo Villaggi received his Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2015 and since taught graduate seminars at the School. He is a research scientist and designer with The Living, an Autodesk Studio where he focuses on novel data-driven design workflows, data analysis, computational geometry and new materials.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with Carlo Bailey ‘15 MARCH.

Platea superimposed above a photo of a city skyline
Platea by Lorenzo Villaggi ‘15 MARCH and Carlo Bailey ‘15 MARCH
Yile Xu ‘20 MSAUD

Lots of People

This project attempts to challenge the repeating pattern of unutilized lots in the city fabric, and address the shortage in public space that cities are facing due to massive developments and increases in population - all while addressing climate challenges such as flash floods, heat islands effect, and lack of shading.  Introducing a smart model of “Borrowing Space Concept” addresses these gaps within the dense cities by encouraging public-private partnerships. Leveraging timeframes (scope) of vacant lots until they obtain permits, a sizable amount of temporary public spaces - “Pop-ups” could be allocated to benefit the needs of the community: temporary community pop-up spaces designed on privately-owned lots and semi-permanent spaces on public lots. The project aims to further explore this concept, design interventions, public engagement process, policies, and implementation in varying contexts and climate conditions worldwide. Using private entities for public good has the opportunity to provide quality public spaces, promote sustainable design, and give equal resources to the diverse communities within the city. The project aims to develop on multiple scales and locations in the future to introduce this concept and idea.

Yile Xu received her Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2020, and her Bachelor of Architecture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China in 2019. She also was part of an exchange program in Norway at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in 2018. Now, she is currently working at Coen+Partners as a project designer. She has always been curious about different cultures and how the individuality of ‘place’ is reflected in the environment, and believes that designers can innovate and explore new possibilities to build better connections between people and the environment.

This proposal is being developed in conjunction with fellow Prize recipients Palvasha Sophia Khan ‘20 MSAUD and Einat Lubliner '20 MSAUD.

Drawing illustrating how a pop-up venue can be inserted into a vacant lot before the construction of a new building
“Lots of People” by Palvasha Sophia Khan ‘20 MSAUD, Einat Lubliner '20 MSAUD, and Yile Xu '20 MSAUD

2019–20

Greta Hansen ‘09 MArch

Hempcrete Houses: Exploring the Possibilities of Building with Industrial Hemp in Cities

Greta Hansen’s project is a research investigation and design proposal for the use of hempcrete in cities. Hansen explores the potential of hempcrete as an ecological alternative to concrete. While concrete is responsible for 4-8% of the world’s CO2, hemp is highly carbon negative. As hemp grows it absorbs CO2 from the soil and releases oxygen, and as hempcrete it absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere than wood products. Hansen will research the use of hempcrete at the scale of an urban building through three trajectories: material research into the possibilities of hempcrete block production, research and awareness with regards to municipal restrictions, and the design of a prototypical low rise residential building to demonstrate the possibilities for the use of hempcrete in urban construction.

Greta Hansen received her Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2009, and her BS in Architecture from University of Cincinnati. She leads the architecture studio Wolfgang & Hite in New York and has taught at Pratt School of Interior Design, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and University of Saint Joseph in Macau.

Dan Luo ‘14 MArch

Nature Reclaiming Abandoned Villages

Dan Luo investigates issues caused by the massive migration of rural populations to urban areas in China, and this project is designed to engage the re-growth of nature in abandoned villages, with a specific installation to be realized in Guizhou. Instead of re-occupying vacated village land with new programs and built space, the project integrates a return of nature within the community. Luo has designed installations to be placed in relation to the buildings in rural villages, with a careful selection of local plants to be placed around and onto the structure. Over time, a unique landscape will be created as an interplay between built structure and growing nature.

Dan Luo received her Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2014, and her B.A. in Architectural Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She is a doctoral candidate in Engineering with a focus on Digital Architecture Design and Fabrication at Tsinghua University, Beijing. Luo was Director of International Collaboration for the China Building Center, and has previously worked at UNStudio Shanghai and other architectural offices.

Eugenia Manwelyan ‘11 MSUP

The Mountaindale School

The Mountaindale School is an ambitious project to reimagine a historic building located in the rural Catskills region of New York, as a multidisciplinary center for art and ecology. Its aim is to offer indoor and outdoor contemporary art exhibitions, artist studio spaces, educational programs, workshops, and public events. The GSAPP Incubator Prize will support an initial phase for Environmental Testing led by Manwelyan, alongside a community-engaged architectural design process. The project addresses “Climate Change at the Building Scale” not only through the intended use and educational mission of the Mountaindale School, but also in how the building renovation process and outcome reflect values of resiliency, sustainability, and interdependence by being designed to withstand the increasing impact of changing climate in the region.

Eugenia Manwelyan received her Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia GSAPP in 2011 and her Bachelor of Arts in International Development from McGill University. She also studied Ecology and Political Science at Tel Aviv University, and is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Pioneer Works, and the Columbia University President’s Global Innovation Fund, among others.

Adam Marcus ‘05 MArch

Ecologically Productive Floating Structures as a Form of Sea Level Rise Adaptation

Adam Marcus is conducting research into ecologically productive floating structures as a form of sea level rise adaptation. The premise of the research challenges conventional notions of “fouling”–the accumulation of marine life on the underside of floating structures–which is typically seen as a nuisance. The project considers the positive potential of biofouling, proposing that controlled upside-down habitats can become an ecological resource that contributes to broader ecosystemic health. The research seeks to bridge architectural methods of design computation and digital fabrication with the emerging field of computational ecology, which studies how ecological behaviors can be computationally modeled. The research is part of the Buoyant Ecologies project at the Architectural Ecologies Lab at California College of the Arts, and additional research partners include marine ecologists at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), and Kreysler & Associates, a global leader in advanced composites manufacturing. The collaborative project synthesizes architectural design, marine ecology, and material innovation to develop new low-cost and adaptive ways for architecture to address ecological change.

Adam Marcus received his Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2005, and his B.A. in Architectural Studies from Brown University. After working for studios including Bernard Tschumi Architects and Marble Fairbanks, he founded the architecture, design, and research practice Variable Projects in Oakland, California in 2011. Marcus is Associate Professor of Architecture at the California College of the Arts, where his is co-director of the Architectural Ecologies Lab.

Stephen Mueller ‘06 MSAAD

Irradiated Shade

The project endeavors to develop and calibrate a means of uncovering, representing, and designing for the unseen dangers of irradiated shade, where the body is exposed to harmful, ambient or scattered UVB radiation even in apparent shade. The project will leverage its position in the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez metroplex, a vital testing ground in which the effects of solar radiation are felt especially by vulnerable populations occupying the increasingly austere and securitized public spaces of the border zone. Where pedestrians are subjected to high levels of solar radiation on cross-border commutes, access to shade is an “index of inequality”. Safe shade is contingent on the nuances of the surrounding built environment, and designers must be empowered to observe and respond to a wider context than current representational tools allow. The project aims to expand the architect’s toolkit in conceiving and representing solar radiation and its impact on bodies, through the production of custom representational tools, drawings, and interactive visualizations addressing a number of scales.

Stephen Mueller received his Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2006, and his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Kansas. He is a founding partner of AGENCY with Ersela Kripa (’06 MSAAD) and teaches at Texas Tech University El Paso.

Anahid Simitian ‘15 MSAAD

Crop Wild Relatives in the Fertile Crescent

The project was developed by Anahid Simitian and Bruno Nakaguma Gondo to study changing agricultural uses of the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East often referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization”, and to specifically develop a community-based seed inventory and experimental kitchen in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. The intention is to make seeds available to local Lebanese farmers and Syrian Refugees who fled their lands in Syria in a collaborative effort to plant, grow, and share knowledge on Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) – crops prior to being domesticated. The project is divided into two phases, beginning with collaborative research with experts studying Crop Wild Relatives in the Fertile Crescent in order to collect a seed inventory, and a second phase including the design and construction of the experimental kitchen and community hub.

Anahid Simitian received her Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2015, and her Bachelor of Architecture from the School of Architecture and Design at the Lebanese American University, Beirut. She co-founded the practice Oficina Aberta, with Bruno Nakaguma Gondo (’15 MSAAD), an architecture and design practice based in São Paulo and Beirut.