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Urban Planning Fall 2013/Winter 2014

First-year students Kellie Radnis, Olga Chernomorets, and Yidan Xu conduct a group survey in Crown Heights, Brooklyn for Clara Irazabal’s Planning History and Theory class. Image courtesy of Chang Liu. On the cover: GSAPP student participants visiting the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, designed by Brazilian Architect Oscar Niemeyer, during the Studio X Rio de Janeiro summer workshop. Image courtesy of Michael Schissel.

Urban Planning Program Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Columbia University in the City of New York 413 Avery Hall, 1172 Amsterdam Avenue New York, NY 10027

Faculty and Staff Lance Freeman Director, Master’s Program

Smita Srinivas Assistant Professor

Trisha Logan Assistant Director

Robert Beauregard Director, Ph.D Program

Stacey Sutton Assistant Professor

Charlotte Egerton Communications Coordinator

Clara Irazabal Assistant Professor

Peter Marcuse Emeritus Faculty

Leigh Smith Program Assistant

David King Assistant Professor

Elliot Sclar Professor

FROM THE DIRECTOR The fall semester 2013 was an especially important one for the Urban Planning program. As part of the reaccreditation process we completed our self-study report and hosted the site visit team from the Planning Accreditation Board during the fall 2013 semester. Reaccreditation is crucial because the process certifies the quality of our academic offerings and consequently enhances the professional opportunities of current and former students. Just as important, however, was the opportunity the self-study provided for us to take stock of where we are as a program and to set objectives for what we would like to accomplish. We feel the reaccreditation process went smoothly and are looking forward to being reaccredited by the PAB. In addition to our usual array of course offerings we have continued the recent practice of providing an advanced studio for second year students. These advanced studios give students the opportunity to hone their planning skills while working with a client to address a planning issue. This advanced studio focused on planning in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy and was taught by Ethel Sheffer. The Urban Planning program was fortunate to host Xin Li as a visiting professor during the fall semester 2013. Xin Li earned her Ph.D. in Urban Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and will be visiting us for the entire 2013-2014 year. Xin Li will be a speaker in our Lectures in Planning Series (LIPS) and taught a course on planning in emerging economies. We are looking forward to the spring semester, especially the firstyear studio projects and second-year thesis work. Lance Freeman Director, Urban Planning Program


CLASS OF 2015*

55 students *6 dual degree students 14 different states 11 different countries 31 different undergraduate majors Most popular? Architecture, Economics, Urban Planning/Urban Studies Top specialization? Land use, transportation, and the environment

Studio X Summer Workshops

Image courtesy of Claire Kao

In the summer of 2013, Urban Planning students participated in Studio X workshops sponsored by GSAPP. Studio X refers to the global laboratories GSAPP has established to explore the future of cities. Now in eight cities in seven different countries, these outposts serve as meeting, event, work, and collaboration spaces for the GSAPP community. The summer workshops hosted by various Studio X laboratories ranged from one to six weeks and provided students with exercises in urban thinking outside of the traditional classroom. UP students participated in three of these workshops: Paris Atelier led by Phillip Anzalone, Urban Space in China led by Jeffrey Johnson and Zoe Florence of the China Megacities Lab, and Capital of Rio de Janeiro’s Built Form: A Game on Urban Re-densification, led by UP adjunct faculty member Alejandro de Castro Mazarro and Francisco Diaz of the Latin Lab.

The greatest number of planning students participated in the Rio Studio X workshop. Rio de Janeiro has been at the forefront of international dialogue as it prepares to host two international mega-events. In addition to new infrastructure and stadiums, much of the preparation will come in the form urban redevelopment. Capitalizing on the timeliness of the situation, GSAPP’s Latin Lab, in conjunction with Studio-X Rio, conducted an intensive summer workshop to explore the revitalization of established urban spaces in Rio de Janeiro. Working under the assumption that the city is a repository of physical, social, and economic capital, students were asked to analyze the existent forms of capital of a given site in Rio de Janeiro, and propose ways to alter and translate them in order to reach at least a “sum zero” of accumulated capital. During the rapid two-week workshop, students participated in site visits, municipal tours, academic lectures, theory discussions, and individual research sessions in order to begin to formulate an understanding of the cultural and social components surrounding architecture and urban development in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.

Second-year student Taylor Miller participated in the inaugural Paris Atelier program, which learned lessons from Visiting Artist Tomas Saraceno in exploring and developing collaborative products. The installation “Going Away” was constructed in collaboration with LABS Director Phillip Anazlone and Architect Michel Serratice. The piece, pictured above, was Group site meeting in Rio. Image courtesy of Michael Schissel on exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo for three weeks in July.

Advanced Urban Planning Studio

Post-Sandy Resiliency in Community District 1 Instructor: Ethel Sheffer Students: Heidi Brake Smith, Peter Chung, Benjamin Engle, Justine Shapiro-Kline, Julie Sophonpanich This fall’s Advanced Urban Planning studio was tasked with studying post-Sandy recovery and developing a set of recommendations for Manhattan Community District 1. Community Board 1 serves five major, mixed-use sub-districts in Lower Manhattan: Financial district, Seaport / Civic center, Tribeca, Battery Park, and World Trade Center. The nearby Governors, Ellis, and Liberty Islands also fall under the jurisdiction of CB1. For this project, CB 1 directed the studio with three objectives: • Identify who the vulnerable populations are and where they are located, which would allow • Community Board 1 to better understand the impact on these populations and prepare a better plan in future, similar events • Investigate how the transient student population—a growing dynamic in the district particularly within the last decade—weathered Sandy as the experience of this population groups is relatively unknown • Assess impacts and suggest ways to improve recovery and future resilience for small businesses The studio group spent the semester compiling data and conducting interviews then analyzing these resources to develop nine recommendations for Community Board 1 to better address the needs of their susceptible populations. The recommendations are framed around four stages of resiliency planning – Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation. These four interdependent stages create a continuous cycle of activity, which leads to effective resiliency planning. Among the recommendations are resident education, communication strategies, and the designation of a Disaster Orientation Logistics Location. The studio’s full report and recommendations can be found here, and are a highly recommended read.




Lectures in Planning Series Columbia University

Julian Brash Author of Bloomberg’s New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City; Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Montclair State University

Spring Kickoff • Jan 28 1pm • Avery 114

APA NY Metro Biennial Conference

Columbia University hosted the American Planning Association NY Metro Chapter’s biennial conference on Friday, November 8th. Over 320 people attended the day long symposium, themed ‘Planning in the Wake of the Storm.’ The conference featured sessions on post disaster planning and resiliency efforts around our region. UP Alumni Kovid Saxena and Maxwell Sokol led the planning efforts for the conference, which was also a successful opportunity for networking with other regional APA members and students. Above, APA NY Metro President James Rausse addresses attendees.

APA 2014 National Planning Conference April 26-30 Planning is at the crossroads. Where will it go next? GSAPP will be hosting a reception for alumni and students on Monday, April 28. Invitation and details will follow.

GSAPP Happenings

• The Planning Student Organization wrapped up an active calendar this semester. Coorganizers Jet Richardson and Amy Yang planned both social and education events, including a pot luck dinner, an exam study break, planning related film screenings, and a city wide scavenger hunt. • This fall, GSAPP’s Urban China Network became officially recognized as a student group by the university. UCN was founded in May 2013 by a group of students interested in urban planning issues in China. This semester, UCN hosted various lectures including, Xinmin Hua on The History of Land Ownership in China, Tingwei Zhang on Chinese Urban Planning: Practice and Theory, and Zhi Liu on How China’s Urban Development Model affects Land, Urban Infrastructure Investment, Housing Markets, and Local Debt. • On Monday, October 7 GSAPP Events presented ‘Midtown East Redux,’ an event discussing the controversial East Midtown Rezoning proposal. UP Program Director Lance Freeman and Assistant Professor David King participated in the panel alongside Kate Ascher, Lise Anne Couture, Andrew Dolkart, and responder Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times. One month later, city council blocked this plan to transform East Midtown into a similar density and building typology of Lower Manhattan.

Faculty News This fall we welcomed several new faculty members to the program. Visiting professor Xin Li from Boston is teaching courses on land use, housing, and environmental planning in Asia, and serving as a thesis advisor for the year. Additionally we have two new GIS instructors, Jeremy White and Juan Francisco Saldarriaga. Srinivas with a group from the GDF Suez. Image courtesy of Smita Srinivas.

In October 2013, Adjunct faculty member Andrea Kahn returned to Malmö University, School of Arts and Communication, to teach the third and final session of the doctoral course, “Exploring Fieldwork: A critical consideration of empirical methods and habits of mind in design research” developed and presented in collaboration with Maria Hellström Reimer, Swedish Design Faculty; and Thomas Binder/Joachim Halse, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design, Copenhagen. During her stay, Andrea participated in a one-day Urban Studies Research Seminar exploring ‘localization’ with six faculty from Malmö University and the Swedish Landscape University (SLU), Alnarp; served as a guest critic for SLU Urban Planning and Landscape studio reviews; and co-authored a research funding application “Beyond Best Practice: Case Studies in Context”. In June, Srinivas helped organize a Ph.D. workshop along with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements. The workshop on Comparative Urban and Regional Research, included top planning faculty working on development planning issues from MIT, UNC, Cornell in the U.S. and from India, the UK, and South Africa. 20 Ph.D. candidates were selected from around the world, including GSAPP UP PhD students Banke Oyeyinka and Jigar Bhatt. Prof. Srinivas was also invited to contribute an essay on technological innovation for children to UNICEF’s flagship report The State of the World’s Children 2014.

Professor Srinivas is now an Urban Strategy Council Member of GDF Suez (France). GDF Suez is the world’s largest independent utility/ energy and environmental services firm, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas firm and one of world’s largest renewables firms. GDF Suez’s history includes the building of the Suez Canal. Professor David King along with UP alum, Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, was quoted in a Gizmodo story about the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s conceptual high-speed transportation system. King points out the problems in the idea, especially the lack of regulatory structure and the issue of speed. He quips, “You only want to feel speed in a convertible.” For the full article, click here. King was also profiled in the Village Voice’s back to school edition in September, discussing public transportation. Read the full profile here. Adjunct faculty member Michael Fishman is serving Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as Project Director for their latest Research Tower breaking ground in January 2014. A Partnership with CUNY, this building will be located on the East River between 73rd and 74th Streets on the UES of Manhattan. It is planned to house over 1M square feet of programmed space including sophisticated imaging / analysis technologies and building systems on one site for both institutions.

Professor Clara Irazabal’s edited book, Transbordering Latin Americanisms: Liminal Places, Cultures, and Powers (T)Here (New York, London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014) was published this fall. ‘This book examines transborder Latin American sociocultural and spatial conditions across the globe and at different scales, from gendered and racialized individuals to national and transnational organizations.’ In October and November, Irazabal made invited presentations at the Inter-American Development Bank (Washington, DC); Universidade Federal Fluminense and Columbia’s Global Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; Columbia’s Global Center in Santiago, Chile; Universidad Católica del Maule in Talca, Chile; and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago.

panel titled “The City After Abandonment” at the Penn Institute for Urban Research at the University of Pennsylvania in November, and spoke at the “Reinventing Shrinking Cities” session at the Planning Practices That Matter symposium at MIT also in November. He gave two lectures in the fall. One for the Feltrinelli Foundation in Milan in December as part of an event titled Le Dimensioni Della Sostenibilita; the lecture was titled “The Heterogeneous City.” As part of this event he was interviewed on radio and television and an article on the lecture appeared in the newspaper La Stampa. Prior to this event he co-taught a doctoral workshop on urban sociology with students from the University of Milan: Bicocca. Another lecture was given in Helsinki in December at the Planning for Preservation? course at Aalto University; it was titled “Urban Planning, Historic Preservation, and the Politics of Things.” While in Helsinki he was a guest critic at a doctoral symposium on urban studies at the University of Helsinki. Lastly, Professor Beauregard was recently awarded a Bellagio Residency Fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation for the spring of 2014 for a book project titled Why Cities Endure.

PhD News Dory Kornfield was chosen as a winner of Columbia’s 2014 Summer Teaching Scholars Competition for her proposed undergraduate course “Food and the City.” Kornfeld’s proposal was chosen based on the intellectual quality and curriculum design of her course. Additionally, her related article “Bringing Good Food In: A History of New York City’s Greenmarket Program” will be published this year in the Journal of Urban History. Professor Bob Beauregard served as a discussant on a panel titled “Ruins, Land and Rent” at the Empire, City, Nation conference in Toronto in June, moderated a panel on “Connecting Research to Practice” at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference in Philadelphia in September, served on another

Andrea Rizvi received an honorable mention for the Thredbo 13 Michael Beesley Award for her paper “Implementing Bus Rapid Transit: A Tale of Two Indian Cities” at the 13th International Conference on Competition and Ownership in Land Passenger Transport, held this past September.

Alumni Spotlight: Sonal Shah Sonal Shah graduated from the Master’s in Urban Planning program in 2008 and has since been working as a planner in India, most recently as a Principal Associate for EMBARQ India. The projects you have worked on throughout your career have been incredibly multidimensional. Tell us a little more about how you developed your interests in planning, and how working in different fields has shaped your perspective as a planner.

their leaders and both slum and other residents, was my first real exposure to urban planning in practice.

Immediately after, I got an opportunity to work on a project (2004) which reevaluated the redevelopment policy for the textile mill lands in Mumbai. This issue had been at the core of the planning debates in the Being trained as an architect-urban planner opens city. Funded by UDRI and led by Mr. Charles Correa, up a lot of avenues for one within the larger “urban this project critically evaluated the impact of the policy development” framework. The specialization in the in the provision of affordable housing and public open intersection of urban planning, design and transport spaces in the city. This kind of research had not been happened organically after completing my graduate previously done in the city. The project culminated into studies. an exhibition at the Kala Ghoda Festival in January 2005. Our research was also used by civil society organizations While the themes are different, the thread in these projects has been the same: undertaking action oriented to file a case to stop the construction of the mill lands and reevaluate the policy. While the final Supreme Court research, specifically primary research to evaluate judgment was made in favour of the mill owners, this existing conditions, identify gaps and propose projects process revealed a lot of gaps vis-a-vis planning practice or recommendations to policies. A significant amount in Mumbai / India: the fragmented nature of civil society of my work has been with academic institutions, organizations, their inability to come together to become non-profit organizations and briefly with the private a credible resistance, and serious lack of critical research sector. This broad range of experience has enabled on the impact of policies on land development in me to understand the specific challenges of each type Mumbai. of practice – be it the problems of pure research and disconnect with practice, lack of resources, challenges of My work at EMBARQ has interestingly been a continuum building cross-class coalitions, capacity and information of my previous work. Being a sustainable transport when working with civil society organizations, or work non-profit, its goal is to catalyze sustainable transport gathering dust in government offices when working solutions as a means of improving quality of life in cities. with a consultancy. Previously unconsciously and now consciously, my work aims to undertake critical research In India too, the ownership of vehicles is seen as a sign to influence planning practice and question what shape of social mobility. Therefore the process of working with governments and civil society organizations to make a would advocacy planning take in a country like India. case for public transport and encouraging pedestrian and non-motorized access is both challenging but tests Through my undergraduate studies (2003), I was me as a planner, communicator and consensus builder. interested in urban design and planning projects and It helps understand the lack of technical and human was fortunate to get an opportunity to work in them resources and constraints within government agencies. without having the necessary training. I did a research fellowship in my alma mater, which evaluated the You have taught several urban planning and design implementation of the then slum redevelopment policy courses over the past few years. What are the most in Mumbai. The process of primary and secondary data collection, interviews with a number of actors including important elements a planning education should include? developers, state agencies, civil society organizations,

There are a few challenges facing planning education today. Some of these are global and others more specific to India. Since my experience has been limited to urban spatial planning, I will focus on that.

the Mayor is responsible for city administration, there tends to be greater responsibility and accountability. In India, the Mayor is a titular head and the Municipal Commissioner is appointed by the state government. Even with the enactment of the legislation on Interdisciplinary literature on history of planning decentralization of governance in the 1990s, planning practice There is a dearth of historical research on the debates on processes still tend to be strongly controlled by the state urbanization and of the urban planning practice in India. government. The existing planning literature tends to be technical India is facing its urbanization curve i.e. in the next without questioning how or where it evolved from. 20 years; its urban population is expected to double Connect planning education to practice from 300 to 600 million . There is a lot of primary data There seems to be disconnect between planning collection, documentation and research to be done on education and practice. Planning education tends to the urban condition, along with a need for developing be either technical (as mentioned above) or academic. accurate spatial information. While United States has There has generally been a critique of master planning; more streamlined, robust, geo-referenced data sets, there that master plans are ineffective in contexts with high have been (anecdotal) discussions that limited primary informality. While rightly so, the question is how can research is being undertaken by students. Currently urban planners be better equipped to understand and both countries (as many globally) are using urban “plan” for the informal / unorganized economy, or is planning as a tool for economic development. While in it antithetical? While planning education is class-room the United States, this seems to be happening through based, a practicum component through the course redevelopment of inner city cores and infrastructure might enable students to learn from practice and engage projects. India’s urbanization is expected to happen into a dialogue of the challenges / contradictions of through creation of new cities, redevelopment and planning practice. expansion of urban areas, towns and cities. Encourage interdisciplinary perspectives

India has a significant percentage of the work force who is employed in the “informal economy”. This is an integral part of India’s urban condition. We have yet to devise ways in which we understand our cities to enable better planning and provision of amenities and infrastructure. India needs to evolve effective public participation processes, reduce discrepancy in levels of information Rethinking binary perspectives and transferability of and awareness across income groups and create concepts effective, meaningful platforms for “invisible” groups to The existing discourses of “international planning” articulate their needs. This is a challenge that planners or “developed / developing” countries need to be questioned by encouraging comparative understanding in the United States will also need to address. Few metropolitan cities in India have a functioning planning rather than binary perspectives. Concepts like transitoriented development, new urbanism, or smart growth department supported by a metropolitan authority. Where they exist, they may be staffed with only eight to cannot be transferred across countries and their ten planners and are usually led by engineers. At the city objectives and relevance need to be questioned. level, local planning departments may have about 4-6 Sustained graduate studios compared to 80-100 planners required for a large city. In international studios, sustained partnerships need to There are few urban economists and sectoral experts in be evolved with local groups or academic institutions these departments. to ensure that sufficient, critical knowledge is gathered over a period of time and students are able to develop a Especially as far as transport is concerned, there is a lot of holistic understanding. catch-up that the United States needs to do, especially in reducing sprawl and encouraging greater use of public What are some of the greatest differences in transport and non-motorized transport. India already has planning practices in India compared to the U.S? significant modal shares of public and non-motorized transport and good quality, contextually appropriate Since the United States follows a mayoral system, where infrastructure needs to be created. There are strong partitions between architecture, urban design and planning departments. Planning education needs to encourage urban planners to think more like urban designers and architects; and develop interdisciplinary perspectives of cities.

Alumni Spotlight: Sonal Shah (continued) What is your advice for current students who wish to work abroad after graduation? I would recommend that the students take courses that enable a robust, interdisciplinary understanding of the context, issues and strengths. The discourse around “developing” countries are generally shrouded within a post-colonial narrative of poverty, oppression, and slums, which need to be destabilized to a more nuanced understanding of the urban condition. This might be achieved through a comparative perspective and by being critical of the tools used to understand these contexts, and question their gaze and applicability. An internship, graduate studio (if possible) or thesis in the chosen area and geography of interest can be very helpful. The students can reach out to GSAPP alumni for working in the respective countries and areas of interest.

What is one of the most unforgettable experiences you had while at GSAPP? My time in GSAPP is dotted with numerous memorable experiences: being part of International Urban Planners, electives that allowed me to explore the University by taking courses in urban anthropology, political science, gender, labour with globalization as an underlying theme, LIPS, coffee and ginger cookies from Brownie’s Café amongst others. I’d like to end with one story that I still remember and appreciate. In a planning workshop course in the first semester, we were discussing ways in which community participation could be encouraged. One of the questions we were asked was what we would do to ensure that people attended the meeting. We spoke about providing information well in advance, reaching out to different groups, and publicizing the event. While Professor Jason Corburn acknowledged these, he said that we were missing one critical point: this was making sure that there was sufficient food for the participants. It seemed obvious but what it emphasized was while we debated concepts and ideas, it was important not to lose sight of the details.

Alumni News •

reaccreditation process. We are proud to have Amy serve in this position! After working in urban education in New Jersey • The second annual alumni/student Speed since graduation in 2011, Christina Gahn has moved Networking event will take place Thursday, February west and accepted a position as an Associate Project 27th from 6-9pm. We are currently recruiting Planner in the Planning & Development Services alumni participants for this event. It is a rewarding department for Snohomish County, Washington. opportunity to meet and advise current planning In September, Howard Slatkin was promoted students, as well as network with fellow alumni. If to Director of Strategic Planning at the NYC you are interested in participating or would like to DCP. Slatkin has a 13-year tenure with the DCP, hear more details, please email Charlotte Egerton beginning in the Brooklyn office and working on the ( Greenpoint/Williamsburg Rezoning. In this position, Slatkin will lead long-term strategic planning efforts, continuing his work with disaster and climate resiliency initiatives. Scott Goldstein, UP’92 and Principal at Teska Associates Inc., recently finished a master plan for Have updates or accomplishments to share with Altgeld Gardens, an 1,800 unit public housing the UP community? Send them to Charlotte development on the far south side of Chicago. Egerton ( for publication Goldstein has worked with Teska for six years now, in the next newsletter. leading neighborhood revitalization and economic development projects for the firm. Subscribe to the GSAPP Urban Planning Alumnus Amy Boyle, UP/MBA ’07, recently was Weekly Newsletter appointed to the GSAPP Alumni Board. Amy will Join our LinkedIn group: Columbia University represent the interests of the Urban Planning Urban Planners alumni community to the school. Amy has been active in recent efforts to involve alumni in career development for students and assisted in this fall’s

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Fall 2013/Winter 2014