Hudson Valley Initiative

The Hudson Valley Initiative (HVI) facilitates applied research into the complex spatial, ecological, and economic opportunities of this vast region. Extending several hundred miles north from Manhattan Island, touching five states, the region includes nine counties, 13 cities and over 200 villages and towns, and its watershed covers over 13,000 square miles. The status and future of this area deeply affects the lives of millions, from New York City to a broad swath of the American northeast. By serving as the GSAPP clearinghouse for urban design, architecture, landscape, preservation, and planning work, the HVI enables substantive contributions to the long term health and viability of the region.

Historically, the Hudson Valley contributed to the feeding, building, educating and housing of innumerable individuals and communities but since the Second World War, deindustrialization has cut deeply into economic health and social mobility. Population decline, job loss, and social inequality plague many towns and cities, and the disparities of wealth and poverty are glaring. Making the situation more difficult, there are many worthy yet conflicting visions, plans, and proposals from local and sub-regional organizations. The Valley's cities and towns, including Poughkeepsie, Beacon, Newburgh, Kingston, Hudson, and surrounding towns and counties, often operate in isolation from one another, and the regional needs and capacities do not fully inform the public imaginary or professional practices. More recently, economic opportunity has extended north from New York City, providing fuel for jobs, housing and culture but with development comes difficult questions of power, equity and knowledge. Ensuring long-term benefits to a greater cross-section of the population is both necessary and difficult.

The HVI enables specific research and project development, which capitalize on the methods unique to the programs housed at Columbia GSAPP. It helps develop overlapping and long-term research projects reaching beyond semester-based curricula. The HVI is also an archive, collecting and organizing maps, images, reports, policies, and other information gathered over time. This is supplemented by shared seminars and lectures, presentations and public programming. Ultimately, the area-specific and tightly focused work of the HVI contributes to the specific towns and communities in the valley and to the larger study of American regional landscapes and cities.

This Spring 2017 Historic Preservation Studio explored the evolution of Poughkeepsie's Main Street by mapping and analyzing current physical and socio-economic conditions, and developing policy and project proposals that utilize preservation as a tool for social and economic inclusion. By understanding the role heritage plays within urban dynamics, students sought to examine how preservation can generate positive long-term outcomes for the diverse Main Street community. Click to download a PDF of the full studio report.