multiplicity the right to the city
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table of contents letter from the editors
tribute: Perry Winston and Stuart Pertz
fundamentals studio: brownsville alyssa baldassini
cities & social justice ron shiffman
studio: bushwick giovania tiarachristie
community planning fellowship paola duran
studio: orange county dylan carey
an interview with david burney levi johnsen
studio: green infrastructure cathy yuhas
capstone excerpt marcel negret
DSNY internship georges ekwensi
studio: historic preservation karol chuyi xuan
greenwood cemetery internship laura landau
the right to information leonel ponce
student travel: rio de janeiro royce gene
cover photo courtesy of Daniel Paschall
student travel: tokyo nur atiqa asri
an interview with visiting professor Yoh Sasaki
apa conference 2015 greyson clark
DIG unconference jonathan marable
youth planning workshops kate selden & reanna tong
PSPD administration David Burney Coordinator, Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development Regina Cahill Chair, Construction & Facilities Management Nadya Nenadich Coordinator, Historic Preservation John Shapiro Chair, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment Jaime Stein Coordinator, Sustainable Environmental Systems Adia Ware Assistant to the Chair, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment
letter from the editors
“the right to the city is like a cry and a demand…the right to the city cannot be conceived of as a simple visiting right or as a return to traditional cities. It can only be formulated as a transformed and renewed right to urban life” -Lefebvre, 1967
What does the right to the city mean to us here at Pratt? It is clear through class discussions, student projects and research that PSPD is constantly grappling with this question. This issue demonstrates the ways in which the PSPD community is advancing the conversation on the right to the city. Ron Shiffman’s piece and the Bushwick studio illuminate how structural and policy changes could prevent displacement and promote inclusion in communities facing gentrification. An interview ith David Burey on Pratt’s new Placemaking program and the recommendations of the Orange Studio reveal the power of placemaking interventions that can literally reshape communities and reimagine a “renewed urban life.”
kate selden city and regional planning
Improving the natural environment through civic engagement is another element of the right to the city, demonstrated by projects like Marcel Negret’s capstone on coastal green infrastructure, and the innovative design solutions in the summer’s green infrastructure design/build studio. Students are exploring the right to the city across the globe, from Tokyo to Seattle to Brazil. And Leonel Ponce points out the need to critically examine how these exchanges can be mutually beneficial. It’s been a particularly striking year for invoking the right to the city: the protests in response to police violence against people of color; the organizing around climate change; the shocking violence in public spaces; the disturbing reactions towards immigrants and refugees; and the impressive community planning efforts across New York City. These issues show a fight for the right to the city from many angles. Our work as urban practictioners is to continue to ask the question, who has the right to the city? And how can our approach to policy, design, the environment, the places we make, the buildings preserved, and social programs facilitate a just process of participatory reshaping of cities?
matt garcia city and regional planning
nur atiqa asri city and regional planning
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French philosopher and sociologist, Henri Lefebvre, coined the term the right to the city in 1967. A rather radical notion at the time, his words and ideas have since been used around the world as a rallying cry for social justice movements, governments, planners and philosophers alike. He spoke of the city as a collective piece of art that residents, particularly the working class, must collaboratively reshape and build by being active participants in civic life.
in loving memory of Perry Winston
by Barbara Knecht, Perry’s friend and colleague at the Architect’s Newspaper
Before moving to San Francisco in 1979, Perry lived in Houston where he received his MArch from Rice University and met his wife, Zeynep Çelik. He grew up primarily in Baltimore, graduated from Harvard in 1967 and spent four years in the Peace Corps in Guarenas, Venezuela, working with the City Engineer on infrastructure and building projects and with a squatter community on an adult literacy program. Mission Housing was a great fit, but after seven years of housing rehab work that produced 350 units of housing, Perry moved to New York and went to work with Levenson, Meltzer Neuringer, one of the few architects focused on housing for people with low incomes. And he dived into all New York had to offer in art, theater, and intellectual life. He and Zeynep gathered deeply interesting people around their dinner table, where spirited debates flowed along with wine and delicious food. Always the provocateur, Perry brought a wealth of detail - historical, political, architectural - to every conversation. From 1990 until 2007, Perry was the Architectural Director at PICCED (now Pratt Center for Community Development). Over
seventeen years there, Perry made friends and admirers, built housing, community centers, educational facilities, parks, and a green roof. He was a co-founder of and technical advisor to the East New York Farms! (ENYF) long before urban agriculture was on anyone else’s lips. Every one of us who worked with him has a recollection of his tenacity, integrity and ethical compass: counting exactly how many beams could be salvaged in a renovation project; noting windows of historic merit and raising funds to preserve them; holding the ENYF Planning Group together until the Farms were self sufficient; figuring out how to make sure MBE contractors were getting construction work on equal terms; doing the work – whatever it was – to make sure each project was the best that it could be. At the time of his death, Perry was working at Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP), continuing the housing work and bringing a much-appreciated wealth of experience. His architectural work received awards, as did his documentary film, Bordersville, about a Houston neighborhood’s efforts to get running water and survive suburban sprawl. In addition to his architectural work, Perry was a serious scholar, an excellent writer and a professional and natural teacher. He wrote journal articles, taught community planning, design and professional practice at Pratt Institute’s PSPD and the New School, took students abroad to Germany, Panama, Brazil, and into neighborhoods of New York. In his writing, there will remain some of the best examples of the humor that he exhibited as seriously as his scholarship. He will be much missed by his friends, colleagues, and students.
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I met Perry Winston in 1984 when he was living in San Francisco; shortly after his son, Ali, was born, and I was working with his wife, Zeynep. Our lives were intertwined personally and professionally from then on. Perry was working for Mission Housing, an activist housing and community development organization centered in the (pre-gentrification) Mission District of San Francisco, a neighborhood largely populated by Latinos. A perfect fit for Perry’s sensibilities, skills and Spanish fluency.
in loving memory of Stuart Pertz
by David Burney, Stuart’s friend and colleague from Pratt PSPD Stuart Pertz, architect, urban planner, ceramic artist, Planning Commissioner and teacher died last Tuesday of cancer. Over a 40- year career spanning 5 New York City Mayors and countless changes to the city he loved, Stuart Pertz became one of the most respected and influential thinkers about urbanism.
As an urban designer and planner he developed zoning and urban design plans for Charleston S.C., downtown plans for New Britain and Norwalk, Connecticut, Hoboken’s Historic Preservation Plan, Master Plans and a new community in the Town Of Islip, L.I., planning for Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center, and plans for development in Taipei, Taiwan, Haiko, Hainan, Guangzhou, China, Yerevan, Armenia and the waterfront of Kuwait City. As a facilities strategist and management consultant he lead teams working with General Motors, Union Carbide, Bank One, McGraw Hill, Merrill Lynch and ABC News. He has done organizational development projects for McGraw Hill and the N.Y. City Department of Parks. He directed the consulting strategic planning team for General Motors’ corporate restructuring and multi-campus redevelopment in S. E. Michigan and overseen Merrill Lynch office facilities projects throughout Europe and the Middle East.
Stuart served as a member of the New York City Planning Commission and as Chairman of the Board of the University Settlement, America’s first such community service organization. Mr. Pertz exhibited his paintings and ceramics, and continually recorded the world around him with line, watercolor and clay. Mr. Pertz was educated at Brooklyn Technical High School, The University of California at Berkeley, Ecole des Beaux Arts Fontainebleau, France, and Princeton University where he received his BA and MFA in Architecture. Stuart is survived by his wife Jeanette Ann Young and two daughters, Eliza and Joanna and five grandsons.
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As an architect, Mr. Pertz designed housing for the NY State Urban Development Corporation, master plans for Lehman College, restoration of McKim Mead and White’s 55th Street town house for US Trust, the headquarters for Shering Plough Corporation, the American University in Beirut’s rebuilt Main Hall and scores of other corporate, commercial and interior design projects.
But Stuart Pertz is perhaps best known as a Professor of Architecture and Planning, Chair of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at Pratt Institute where he continued to teach in the graduate City and Regional Planning program. Until his death Stuart was one of the founding members of Pratt’s new “Urban Placemaking and Management” program - the first program in the nation devoted to “Placemaking” as an urban design methodology. He taught extensively and developed curricula for a variety of courses in development strategies for cities, sustainable communities and the design of places in the public realm. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a past director of the New York City Chapter and a past member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
fundamentals studio: brownsville
alyssa baldassini takes us through the most contentious neighborhood in Mayor De Blasio’s rezoning plans for New York City
Photo: Nur Atiqa Asri
In the Spring, first year planning students participated in an ambitious ‘mini-studio’ working with Brownsville Partnership (“BP”), a project of the non-profit Community Solutions. The students conducted extensive research and provided planning recommendations to support the development and activation of Brownsville’s vacant and underutilized land. BP, the ‘client’, also asked for technical assistance in identifying specific strategies that would diversify retail stock and spur the local economy by providing more opportunities to local entrepreneurs. Brownsville is located in the eastern portion of Brooklyn, bordered by the neighborhoods of
East New York, Canarsie, East Flatbush, Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant. Predominately a low-income population of color, Brownsville has a lower median household income compared to the rest of the borough and city. It also suffers from a low educational attainment rate, particularly among residents aged 1517 who are about to enter the workforce. Additionally, Brownsville has what many estimate to be the largest concentration of public housing in the nation. The public housing in Brownsville are located on superblocks, which lack commercial activity and are surrounded by underutilized open space. Pitkin Avenue,
Brownsville’s main commercial corridor, while once bustling, is now home to many vacant storefronts and second floor vacancies.
In light of these recent developments, the class was quickly thrown into an in-depth understanding and analysis of land use policy in order to be able to attempt to address these tensions in the recommendations. Professors Ayse Yonder, Juan Camilo Osorio, and Mercedes Narciso advised and counseled the studio process, which included interviewing community stakeholders, engaging in neighborhood surveys, and generating two written reports. The process began with an analysis of existing conditions found within the Brownsville neighborhood, where three
The final recommendations were organized under four overarching objectives: 1. To create opportunities for local economic development 2. To preserve affordability and financial stability 3. To enhance public safety, accessibility, and mobility 4. To alleviate environmental and health burdens For each of these objectives, the studio strived to build upon existing assets and strengths within Brownsville. For example, to promote local economic development, the studio proposed establishing a coalition of businesses to strengthen the thriving hair and beauty sector in the area and to develop more of such businesses. To enhance public safety, accessibility, and mobility, the studio recommended to build upon the existing urban art efforts in order to physically transform Livonia Avenue, a street burdened by an elevated train track. One of the most interesting areas of research was the studio’s findings regarding environmental and health burdens. While the studio initially focused on local economic development along the commercial corridors, an interesting finding at research phase revealed Brownsville to be vulnerable to hurricane storm surge. As a result, the studio heightened its examination of the possible effects of climate change on the neighborhood and community. Recommendations under the objective of alleviating environmental and health burdens focused specifically on
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Various city policies were being developed during the course of the studio that directly affected the study area. For instance, the DeBlasio Administration was in the midst of announcing the details regarding a rezoning in the neighboring communities of East New York and Ocean Hill. The Mayor’s housing plan aims to utilize mandatory inclusionary zoning. Under the plan, in exchange for development rights, a developer will provide a proportionate number of ‘affordable’ housing units of the total number of units built. Critics of this approach argue that attracting higher-income residents into the neighborhood to rent or purchase market rate housing may fuel gentrification. Additionally, as a part of the “Next Generation NYCHA” plan, the New York City Housing Authority has promised to sell off parking lots, green space, and playgrounds to developers for affordable housing, in the hopes to address their budget deficits while creating more affordable housing units. Lastly, the Administration has focused on developing affordable housing on vacant lots to which HPD holds title. Although these lots appear vacant on city planning maps such as NYC OASIS and ZoLa, 20 of the potential building sites contain existing community gardens, with two located within the boundaries of Brownsville. The development of those lots posed a potential tension between the Administration’s goals and the community’s existing assets.
teams of students examined three different study areas -- the built environment, the socioeconomic environment, and the natural environment. Analyzing neighborhood history, demographic trends, local housing and social services, open space, and commercial development, among other topics, the studio created a SWOT analysis, which informed the final recommendations.
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creating carbon sinks, decreasing urban heat island effects, and strengthening the natural storm-water intake through green infrastructure. Additionally, the studio found that Brownsville had a smaller percentage of open space than the rest of Brooklyn, and the city as a whole. This information turned out to be extremely valuable to the client, who at the time was grappling to build a case for the preservation of open space and community gardens amidst high rates of infill development. Finally, in order to counter the speculated construction of market rate and ‘affordable’ housing within Brownsville, the studio strategically thought about ways in which the residents of the community could be empowered to have a voice and retain control of the development process. In order to preserve housing affordability and financial stability, the students recommended the
creation of a community land trust and the promotion of access to financial services and workshops that ensured the area’s low-income and elderly population had knowledge of and access to existing programs like the NYC Rent Freeze Program. The studio grappled with many socio-cultural, environmental and housing real estate pressures, in one of the densest public housing areas in the nation. The task at hand could not have been more gargantuan for a bunch of first time- planners, but as with all Pratt studios, students clearly held ground on preserving the local community’s voice in the process of the work - giving them the right to the plans.
Informal vendors set up stalls on fences surrounding vacant lots in Brownsville Photo: Nur Atiqa Asri
cities and social justice: human rights and public policy in the americas 12 | m u l t i p l i c i t y f a l l / w i n t e r 2 0 1 5
by Ron Shiffman, FAICP, NYS Hon. AIA
Chilean Philosopher and economist, Manfred Max-Neef’s Theory of Human Needs [and Satisfiers] provides a useful framework for discussing Cities and Social Justice. Our needs are the same wherever and whenever we live. What changes from place to place and time to time is how we satisfy those needs. This “Word Cloud” depicts what New Yorkers think are the major attributes of their City. Diversity, opportunity, people, transport rank high with diversity being an attribute cited by the greatest number of people. Yet every major development initiative in New York and elsewhere -North or South- tends to sort out and segregate people by class, ethnicity and race.
In surveys conducted by NYC of the issues of concern to city residents -- Education, Housing, Jobs, and Public Safety, in that order, have been identified. In a city where location is synonymous with education and public safety, place-based initiatives are critically important. Planning and development is of major concern and engagement in the processes of planning in a city with a pluralistic population. Planning and development decisions are important and often contentious as different groups seek to have their needs satisfied. The present administration of the City of New York led by Mayor de Blasio and supported by the Speaker of the City Council, the Controller
and the City Advocate - our three City Wide officials plus the leader of our City Council- the most diverse and representative City Council in our history --are collectively more focused and supportive of human rights related issues and programs than any city administration we have had in over three decades. In a report entitled “One New York-The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” Mayor de Blasio, building on Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC2030 plan has added and emphasized the issue of equity and human scale development to the environmental and Introduction and Evolution sustainability focus of the NYC 2030 initiative. The plan is an admirable one with worthy goals and objectives.
despite the NYC’s rhetorical and programmatic efforts to address human rights issues only sporadic public financial support exists to carry out these programs. For the city to address its “one city” human needs and human rights agenda it must find creative programmatic approaches with innovative financing strategies and new revenue sources.
transit-accessible housing construction, this plan will
ideas with New Yorkers beyond OneNYC’s publication.
New York City’s Greatest Assets, According to New Yorkers
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Administrative actions such as reforming the actions of the Police Department, passing legislation protecting the rights of ex-offenders, mandating better working conditions, improving the social service procedures of our welfare agencies and advocating for an increase What We Heard from New Yorkers in the minimum wage have been adopted. Despite NYC’s rhetorical and programmatic Despite these changes, the city is still hampered ensure that by 2040, the average to New Yorker will be Extensive pre-launch discussions with New Yorkers initiatives that address human rights issues, by its limited powers act, most ofable which are to reach 1.8 million jobs by transit within 45 minutes. directly shaped the goals and initiatives detailed in only sporadic public financial support exists to retained by the State. NYC, for instance, relies Survey respondents requested that we reduce garbage in this plan. carry out these programs. Given the partisan/ onYork New Yorkit’sState totheinitiate andand approve New because good for environment our When on nearly 3,500 people submitted comments to the neighborhoods. We’ve responded with a strategy to political divide the national level, the rent and tenant protection and many housing online survey about housing and affordability, we achieve Zero Waste by 2030. federal government cannot be relied on for finance related laws. In addition, an increase affirmed the affordable housing commitments in any financial support for, the human rightshousing related the wage, with some exceptions, Asinthis goesminimum to press, we are still evaluating great new Housing New York City’s ten-year plan. activities. The administration needs approval as do many ideas. How state can we increase children’s access to proposals to That Obama plan lays out strategies to create has and preserve affordable afterschooltaxes. and summer camphousing programs, incentives 200,000 executive affordable housing units over the next ten within its limited powers liberalized levy additional All our years. OneNYC now sets a goal of creating 240,000 new as recommended by Ivette S. in Queens, and many some immigration policies, and strengthened and state and federal sources of revenue housing units—both market rate and affordable—within others? Could Eman R.’s (Brooklyn) proposed annual fair housingtheregulations. However, the federal needed for housing production require some Challenge” to engage New Yorkers to resolve next decade. It also calls on governments across our “NYC government andto New provide little state orbefederal financing, as BigApps well as, legislative local issues incorporated into the City’s region supportYork effortsState to create new housing Competition? Can Debbie L.C.’s (Manhattan) suggestion throughout metro area.One City set of financial support forthethe city’s and administrative approvals. for a design, technology, and media innovation human rights initiatives. The one exception has Other feedback focused on providing New Yorkers with commission help fuel growth within those industries? been fundstransit that access have from been allocated to the their homes to good jobs.city Through investments, job Sandy. creation inTherefore, diverse locations, and We look forward to continuing to test these and other in responsetransit to Superstorm
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The City therefore is dependent on its own revenue sources and its ability to leverage private financial resources. The City does this using whatever powers that are relegated to them by the state of New York. One of these powers is theand power to zone the uses that can Introduction Evolution take place within the City of New York. One technique the city is pursuing is what we call inclusionary zoning.
the Mayor’s plan, this tool is being adopted to leverage private money in order to achieve affordable housing. While well-intentioned, it has resulted in some unintended consequences that I believe will and have undermined the Mayor’s intentions:
+ partnership with the “the establishment” rather than a partnership for change Advisory Board + triggered a wave of speculation, The Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board also helped to guide ourdisplacement, thinking. The & This requires that in particular zoning areas, the solicitation, harassment, 38-person Board represented all five boroughs and is comprised of civic leaders, policy developer set aside a fixed percentage of the gentrification specialists, and community leaders, representing sectors including sustainability, units for low- and moderate-income families. + applies primarily in predominantly low social services, the business community, academia, real estate, and healthcare. and moderate income communities. This The cost of subsidizing these units is offset by increasing the rents of the remaining in in turn, accelerates the sorting out and Regionalunits Coordination order to reduce the rents of the lower rent including units Mayors and segregation of communities on Fifteen leaders, County Executives, from cities based and counties and by allowing the developer build class and in to New York,more New Jersey, and Connecticut metrace. with the City to discuss the units then they would be ablecommon to build prior toaffecting the region, such as infrastructure, housing, jobs, and challenges climate change. the adoption of the inclusionary zoning. Rather than facilitating the provision of Clergy/Faith Leaders listening session, April 20, 2015. affordable housing, it is principally a tool to Survey: nyc.gov/ideas In addition, the city needs to Online use some of its build market rate housing in moderate and On March 6, 2015, OneNYC launched an online survey – nyc.gov/ideas – to ask New own financial resources to further subsidize low-income areas leading to displacement of Yorkers for their ideas. Through the survey, over 7,500 people provided thoughtful and reduce the cost of housing to the low- and low and moderate-income residents. This is and candid insights in seven languages. Respondents overwhelmingly mentioned the moderate-income families. This public-private because we lack the will, the resources and the high cost of living and affordable housing as primary concerns. Comments and partnership has some benefitssuggestions for lower-from the survey informed politicalthe power plan. to finance the development of income families but entails some unintended very low, low and moderate income housing consequences. The initial intent of inclusionary and instead we partner with the development Telephone Survey We surveyed 800 New Yorkers to identify key andas concerns. zoning was to overcome exclusionary zoning community to issues appear thoughNew weYorkers are identified housing as the most important issues the city laws and was intended to foster racialeducation, jobs, andaddressing the problem. The cityfacing at present today, and recognized diversity as the city’s top asset. integration in predominantly white areas. Under has not proposed inclusionary housing in
Most Important Issues According to New Yorkers 3% Environment 3% Connecting Government 7% Physical Infrastructure
3% Don’t Know
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predominantly white areas, meaning integration of black and Latino areas will be sought but integration of segregated white communities will be ignored. This is a prescription for displacement. Rather than being a tool for integration inclusionary housing may very well be a tool to achieve hyper-segregation. An unintended consequence of the Mayor’s initiative. We need a city-wide text amendment for IZ and not limit IZ to only new areas to be rezoned.
For example, I believe that the City Planning Department’s proposed rezoning actions will have an adverse impact on manufacturing, small businesses uses and threaten the fine grain character of many of our commercial strips. The opportunity structures, the assets that presently and historically exist in these neighborhoods are overlooked, ignored and disrespected. The auto repair shop, the bodega, the small factory are all facing displacement to make way for the mall, corporate chains and new high-rise, predominantly market-rate housing. Neighborhoods throughout New York City are experiencing a severe shortage of housing for very-low, low- and moderate-income individuals and families, dramatic increases in rent, increased harassment of tenants, homeowners and business owners. Tenants, homeowners and businesses are being solicited to sell their properties, some by unscrupulous speculators. This speculation spurred in part by the specter of zoning incentives to build more dense
If left unaddressed this situation will continue to plague the city. No action is not an option. The Mayor’s proposals for affordable housing have opened the door for addressing this complex and critical issue. Many of the progressive community-based-development groups, environmental justice and communityeconomic development advocates and leaders of front-line communities that have over the years played a key role in the stabilization and revitalization of their neighborhoods are ready to partner with the Mayor to address these complex issues, which have arisen, in part, due to the success of their efforts. However, in order for a progressive partnership to emerge the following initiatives need to be considered, adopted and woven into a holistic and integrated strategy. First, we need an aggressive Anti-Displacement, Anti-Speculation initiative -- a policy that is aggressive and functions citywide to protect against displacement and gentrification and is focused on the protection of people and jobs. This would include establishment of a non-solicitation order directing real-estate agents to stop making offers to homeowners, small business owners and manufacturers who have not initiated or specifically expressed a “willingness or a desire” to sell. Secondly, enhanced legal assistance, tenant/ homeowner advocacy and organizing efforts need to be established. We need to provide, as the Mayor has proposed, legal assistance to tenants, property owners, and small business owners so that they can have access to legal representation if they have been harassed or victimized in any way by landlords or by real estate speculators. But we need to expand
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Partnering with the private sector meant that the Mayor needed to include within the administration those who the private sector trusted. Even when they are well intentioned, they are often oblivious to the needs, fears, and desires, and capabilities of low- and moderateincome communities and their efforts to survive in this city. The fear of displacement, of losing one’s home is palpable in every community I work with and visit. At the same time the asset base in those areas is invisible to many whose value systems are so different that they are unable to see or understand the communities they deem to be undesirable.
housing has led to a dramatic increase in land costs. Accelerating the real and perceived fear of displacement of people and jobs and a loss of community identity. These issues are compounded by the fact that housing and real estate costs have increased dramatically, while wages and wealth creation for many New Yorkers have remained stagnant.
this program to include funding of community and tenant organizers, and other professionals needed to make such a program citywide and enforceable. Also included should be funds set aside to assist homeowners by providing them with foreclosure counseling.
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We need to develop and maintain an Enhanced Data Base of Perpetrators of Violations, Harassment and Speculation. The city should require that anyone doing business with or benefiting from any city action, including seeking of a building permit, certify that they have not engaged in speculation and/or harassment. Community-Based planning should precede zoning. The City Planning Department should work with Community Boards, and community-based development organizations, environmental justice organizations and local community leaders to undertake : + An intensive and expedited communitybased planning process that could lead to identification of local affordable housing opportunities, retention and enhancement of a communityâ€™s existing stock of affordable housing, the retention and enhancement of its commercial corridors and reinforcement of the areaâ€™s cultural identity.
+ Working with the city these groups should identify needed infrastructure investment that could enhance the areaâ€™s ability to retain and expand its supply of affordable housing and to provide economic opportunities to bridge the economic divide that exists. Manufacturing and commercial areas should be protected to stem real estate speculation, the intrusion of non-manufacturing uses and the loss of jobs, which exacerbate economic disparities. We need to partner with existing communitybased development and other front line community organizations to plan and develop our communities rather than merely consulting with them. Community partnerships need to be ongoing and survive past the rezoning process in order to be effective. To implement this, the city needs to partner with and utilize trusted, community-based organizations in the development process, as well as, the planning process. Permanent affordability and dedication to continual use in the public interest should be a prerequisite for receiving city-owned land and other resources. The administration, working with the City Council, should confront the State of New York and vigorously advocate for the strengthening
of tenant protection laws, reform the 421a program, and adopt anti-speculation laws. Where they can act on their own the Council should such as the anti-displacement initiative proposed in San Francisco, and under consideration by the City Council of New York. We should develop programs to protect against harassment, displacement, demolition and programs that enable those who were harassed and displaced should have the opportunity to return to their communities.
There is also a need to advocate for the adoption of a Tobin Tax or Robin Hood Tax to deal with a range of issues especially ones that address climate change and human scale development needs- housing, living wage jobs, community economic development, education and the fostering of social cohesion and social inclusion. The ideas outlined above are meant to build upon and to enhance the ideas that the administration has proposed. Obviously some of the ideas herein differ in emphasis from those the Administration has proposed but they are intended to achieve the objectives that Mayor has so eloquently put forward. Residents and community based organizations dared to develop and advocate for the changes that have reversed the decline that NYC faced in the 70s only to find that their constituents and their communities today face the specter of displacement because of the success of their efforts.
We need the leadership and the resources to bridge the social and economic divide between peoples. We need to address income disparities and at the same time we need to address global warming and the need to develop a clean and safe water supply. The need to address poverty and inequity are the challenges facing both the North and The South and the ‘norths’ and the ‘souths’ within our cities. The next generation of policy makers, designers, planners and activists will be called upon to address these issues. The outcomes of their work will play out in our cities and the places we occupy. We need to summon the courage and creativity to set aside today’s “false partnerships” and “piecemeal interventions” and address these challenges through approaches leading to “human scale development” and the satisfaction of our needs in “our own time and our own place.”
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In addition, the imposition of a NYC “pied-aterre residential tax” on units not occupied year round. These taxes would provide disincentives for displacement and speculation while at the same time generate the revenues needed to mitigate the adverse affect that these actions have on the NYC real estate market and felt by NYC’s poorest residents. It would also enable us to assure that improvements in low-income neighborhoods will allow for low-income residents to benefit from improvements rather than being displaced.
We propose the development of a progressive coalition comprised of front-line housing and community organizations working with the Mayor to develop and launch an effective program for affordability that benefits all New Yorkers and addresses the goal to eliminate the inequities that for too long have plagued our great city.
implementation studio: bushwick
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giovania tiarachristie gives an account of the fastest gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn
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Fall 2014 studio beginnings : aiming to address an affordability crisis Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that as part of his Housing New York plan in 2014, several neighborhoods would be rezoned to accommodate a greater density. Bushwick was a potential candidate. This studio began in response to the commencement of a community-based planning process in Bushwick, convened by local Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal. This process came about in response to a prior request for a zoning study made by the local community board and the recognition of the hyper-gentrification washing over Bushwick. The economic changes have led to threats of displacement against long-time residents, loss of local culture, and the disintegration of community fabric. As a local organizing and advocacy organization, our client MRNY was well positioned to engage neighborhood residents and get them involved in the process. It was the task of the studio, advised by Stuart Pertz and Eddie Bautista, to provide technical information to residents and propose a set of solutions aimed to meet their priorities for the neighborhood. Pratt’s focus on communitybased planning led the students to develop a robust community engagement process, which included over a half dozen meetings, presentations, and charrettes with MRNY
members and local residents. It was only after engaging in extensive dialogue with residents that we arrived at the four objectives and accompanying recommendations that can be found in the final report. Through our research, we found that the economic trends in Bushwick are leading to a dangerously inflated real estate market, in which rent-regulated tenants are increasingly under threat of displacement due to rising rents and tenant harassment. The real estate pressure is also leading to the displacement of the local manufacturing sector, an essential economic engine for the neighborhood’s working class residents, in favor of uses that command higher rents. The studio determined that even though residents have been empowered through a planning process, the complexity of city policies can leave residents unable to meaningfully participate in the ULURP process. If residents are unable to lend meaningful input to the process, the potential for securing a full range of community benefits is significantly reduced. Finally, the most important takeaway from our research was that residents did not want to see improvements to the neighborhood without first ensuring the security and stability of their homes. At the conclusion of the Fall 2014 studio, students and faculty alike acknowledged that the issues facing Bushwick are not endemic to the neighborhood and realized that these recommendations were relevant to many other communities throughout the city facing gentrification pressures. Spring 2015 focus on implementation : packaging a toolkit Pratt’s Sustainable Communities studios generally focus on facilitating inclusive community planning processes through prioritization of community needs as expressed by local residents, and developing recommendations to meet these needs. But most studios conclude with a presentation of recommendations at the end of the semester (with perhaps several more weeks to finalize the report). But the students and faculty felt that the
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This past Spring, Pratt held an “implementation studio,” continuing the work of Fall 2014’s Sustainable Communities Studio on preserving neighborhood affordability and character in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. The independent studio was led by four students, including Asher Freeman and Giovania Tiarachristie (continuing from the previous semester), and Kellie Terry and Daniel Goldberg, advised by Professors Ron Shiffman and David Burney. The studio dove deeper into the compilation of recommendations made in the previous semester for the client, Make the Road New York (MRNY), focusing on prioritizing the recommendations and the components needed to implement them.
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Fall 2014 Bushwick studio topic, findings, and recommendations were robust and politically relevant, and thus important to package in a way that would be practical and useful for other communities throughout the city currently facing similar crises with affordability and cultural preservation in their neighborhoods. An official implementation studio had not been done before, so it became an experiment and an exciting challenge for the students to explore feasibility of the recommendations. The studio was comprised of independent group work, coached as needed by the faculty instructors. On the first day of studio, students began by reviewing work from the previous semester, defining their vision for the set of outcomes (a toolkit report and a summary presentation), and identifying their personal learning objectives. The students then identified priority recommendations based on political feasibility, existing efforts, and urgency for implementation, recognizing the organizational assets and also capacity limitations of the client. From there, the students drafted a schedule of speakers and agenda topics to inform the strengthening of existing recommendations. What would be the resources or next steps necessary to begin implementation of a Community Land Trust? Or advocacy around tax reform and strengthening manufacturing protections? Or real meaningful community involvement in the land use and environmental review process? What is the development process of a project, and where are strategic intervention points for the community? Who needs to be involved to implement these recommendations? As a result of these discussions, some recommendations were taken out, some modified in their aim or approach, and some new recommendations were added. A major component of the studio also included developing infographics to help the client and residents understand and re-communicate how certain complex policies or processes work or could work. Useful tools were also included as part of the appendix, including a
fact-sheet on why manufacturing is relevant to immigrants and latinos, a summary of case studies on manufacturing incentives / programs, a capacity-building guide on intervention points in the EIS process for community organizations, and a sample power map to implement the recommendations. The final product The outcome of the project included a presentation, which was presented to the client, Pratt community, as well as the American Planning Association NY Metro Chapter Student Presentations, as well as a robust final report called Keeping Bushwick, Bushwick : Preserving Neighborhood Affordability and Character. It has been our hope that the research and recommendations on organizing and advocacy will enable and empower local participation in the planning process. These strategies are relevant not only in Bushwick, but also in many other lowincome neighborhoods throughout the city that are currently experiencing rapid rates of gentrification and displacement. These initiatives have been consolidated into four broad objectives with accompanying recommendations. 1 Protect Tenants and Preserve Neighborhood Affordability The first objective includes measures to protect tenants from harassment and preserve neighborhood affordability by increasing penalties for abusive landlords, developers, brokers, and lenders, and incentivizing these actors to be good neighbors. Success stories of building community ownership of buildings and land, such as the Cooper Square Committee, have been analyzed to determine how similar initiatives can be organized in Bushwick. And improvements have been recommended for existing programs and policies, such as federal income brackets and the affordable housing lottery, to make them more responsive to the real needs of working families. The recommendations under this objective are
1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7
Advocate for Reformed City-wide Anti- Harassment Anti-Displacement Zoning Advocate for Stronger Regulation of Brokers and Lenders that Contribute to Displacement & Instability Advocate for Stronger Building Violation Enforcement and Remediation through AEP-TPT and TIL/ANCP Promote Community Ownership Models in Bushwick Advocate to Reform Tax Policies for Vacant Residential Land to Generate Revenue for a Housing Trust Fund Advocate for Affordability Levels that meet CD4 Needs Advocate for Opportunity to Return in the Housing Lottery
Promote Manufacturing Retention and Local Jobs In response to the concept that no housing is truly affordable without a living wage, our second objective outlines methods for promoting industrial retention and local jobs. We have recommended joining, and helping lead, the growing movement to preserve industrial business zones for industrial uses and halt the deterioration of Bushwick’s manufacturing base. We have identified gaps in the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process in relation to residential, commercial, and infrastructure impacts that can result from rezoning. We have outlined a set of incentives that will make it easier for industrial businesses to move to, and remain in, neighborhoods like Bushwick. And we have expanded on the traditional notion of a manufacturing “trade school” to encompass a broader, innovationbased curriculum that can train Bushwick’s young adults to be designers, not just
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technicians. The recommendations under this objective are:
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2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4
Advocate for Strengthening of Zoning Policies to Preserve Manufacturing Land Advocate for the Creation of a New Class of Industrial Financial Incentives Advocate to Activate Underutilized Spaces through Tax Reform Collaborate with other groups to pilot a Bushwick Manufacturing & Innovation Training School (B-MIT)
3. Build capacity of residents to meaningfully participate in the process Our third objective focuses on building the capacity of Bushwick residents to participate in the rezoning process. Using existing conditions research on the patterns of neighborhood change, we have created maps suggesting what level and type of growth may be most appropriate for specific areas of the neighborhood. We have proposed improvements to the cityâ€™s information gathering systems, as well as ways that MRNY and its partners can gather important information on their own, such as documenting and cataloging tenant harassment. Recognizing how important, but difficult, it can be for communities to help shape the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will precede any future rezoning of Bushwick, we have created a step-by-step guide for communities to impact that process. The recommendations under this objective are: 3.1 3.2 3.3
Advocate for Accessible Housing Data and a Public Notification System Promote Zoning Provisions that Meet Community Planning Goals Facilitate Informed Community Involvement in the CEQR Process, while advocating for city-wide reforms
4 Promote cultural preservation and improvement of public spaces Our final objective aims to preserve the
local culture of Bushwick, as well as improve the public realm through interventions that respond to residentâ€™s needs. This includes utilizing existing open space, but investing in significant improvements so as to generate a greater range of community benefits from them, including green infrastructure for storm water management. Mandating that developments benefiting from a rezoning make public realm investments around their developments and using vacant spaces as opportunities to promote local culture through art, events, and commerce. The recommendations under this objective are: 4.1 Advocate for Better Quality and More Inclusive Public Open Spaces in Central Bushwick 4.2 Advocate for Public Realm Improvements through the Zoning Code 4.3 Advocate for Public Right of Way (PROW) Green Infrastructure: Reduce Flooding and Manage Stormwater at Public Spaces 4.4 Activate Empty Storefronts and Public Spaces to Celebrate Bushwickâ€™s Rich Hispanic Heritage Lessons learned Through this studio process, the students took away a number of important lessons that apply not only to Bushwick, but other historically disenfranchised communities experiencing rapid change due to recurring waves of gentrification: 1. Affordable housing preservation needs to be prioritized over creation of new housing. 2. A healthy industrial ecology facilitates the creation of living-wage jobs, leading to increased neighborhood affordability. 3. Zoning is a tool to implement community planning goals - not a replacement for comprehensive neighborhood planning, which must precede any rezoning in a neighborhood. 4. It is not only vital to equip residents with the understanding and tools to meaningfully participate in the planning
The students of the Bushwick Sustainable Communities studio dedicate this report to the memory of our professor, Stu Pertz (May 6, 1936-July 9, 2015). Each one of us was deeply inspired by Stuâ€™s passion for urbanism, expansive knowledge, dedication to communities, and unwavering positivity. Stu sported an impressive resume, having held top positions in both the public and private sector, but always remained humble and accessible, encouraging his students every step of the way. This report would not have been possible without his input and expertise. His compassion, energy, laughter, and spirit will be greatly missed. He has touched each of our lives, and we are deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such an accomplished and inspiring planner, mentor, and friend. We hope this report makes him proud.
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process, but it is also a form of investing in social infrastructure that builds strong and resilient communities. 5. Diversity and cultural competency are critical to effective community planning. In Bushwick, is was not only about being able to speak Spanish in meetings and appreciate the role of culture, but also about understanding the struggle of historically marginalized low-income communities. 6. There is value in using information gathered through community-based processes to develop broader city-wide governmental policies.
community planning fellowship
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alumnus paola duran recounts her experience as a Morgan Stanley / ANHD fellow
The provision of affordable housing in New York seems to be one of the main components of the Mayor’s agenda. We all read, heard and talked about it while in grad school, but in the end, developing projects in the city is not as simple as we think it is. Last year, I had the opportunity of learning more about the components that need to be in place in order to develop affordable housing in New York. I had the fortune to be one of the Morgan Stanley / Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) fellows along with other students from Pratt, Columbia, NYU and Rutgers Universities. I began working for HANAC, Inc. (Hellenic American Neighborhood Committee) which develops affordable housing in the city of New York. As Housing Development Coordinator, I had the opportunity to work with architects, engineers, environmental specialists, lawyers, city agencies among others, towards the goal of developing two large projects: The first, a 68unit affordable housing building for seniors in Corona, Queens, and the second, a multi-family, mixed-used project in Flushing, Queens. The project in Corona proposed an innovative design to achieve Passive House Certification, which I heard about for the first time at HANAC. I learned what this was about, how it can be achieved, and quickly realized that it is an incredible option towards energy savings. In addition, my fellowship involved all components related to environmental reviews, funding applications working with city agencies, zoning reviews, ULURP process, and community board meetings.
The other project in Flushing is massive. It is product of a joint venture between AAFE and Monadnock and will offer 232 units under the “Mix and Match” affordability scheme proposed by HPD. Sixty-six units will be reserved exclusively for low-income seniors. Active design and Feng Shui elements have been incorporated to align the project with the cultural expressions of the Asian community of the area, making it a very complete development. I think the most challenging part of the fellowship was related to the underwriting of the projects. It took me a couple of months to understand how a real budget for affordable housing has to be developed and presented, and of course, learn what is required depending on the type of funding that each project is requesting. Definitely, grant writing is one of the skills I refined thanks to this fellowship and should be a priority for any student in the industry. There are so many things we cannot learn in the classroom, so many details to discover “in the real world,” which is why I encourage all students to really try and get internships and fellowships. This way, they will become more familiar with urban planning issues in a real context before graduating, as well as with time management and project management skills. Experience does matter and who knows, maybe you will get hired after your internship as I did.
studio: orange, new jersey dylan carey, third year City and Regional Planning student, talks about the threats of gentrification facing orange county and the tools it might need amidst this crisis
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In the Spring of 2015, the Sustainable Development studio ventured outside of the five boroughs of New York, and our work for the semester instead focused on the City of Orange, New Jersey. Located about 12 miles west of Manhattan, Orange is accessible to New York City residents by way of a 30 minute train ride. However, the challenges facing the city and the assets of the community were far different from those commonly seen in Brooklyn or Manhattan. Our client for the semester was the University of Orange, or UofO. UofO is an unusual organization. Not an accredited educational institution, UofO instead is often
described as a “university of the streets,” and describes itself as a “free, people’s university.” University of Orange was created in 2007, and grew out of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the city’s fight to desegregate city schools. As we began our semester’s work, we were faced with learning the history and people of a new area while simultaneously embarking on a studio’s more traditional work of assessing the existing conditions of the area. While working in New York poses many challenges, planners in New York do have the advantage of being able to work with large amounts of data that reveal
valuable information as to the demographics and physical conditions of a neighborhood. Orange has been studied far less, the local government has far fewer resources, and nonprofit groups doing planning work in the city are far less prominent. As such, fewer reports and data sets are available for analysis.
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history + context Historically, Orange was a center for manufacturing, once known as the “hat-making capital of the world and home to over 30 factories within it’s ~2 square mile boundaries. However, pressures in the 20th century including suburbanization, decline in the local manufacturing base, and discriminatory policies such as redlining led to disinvestment in the city. Orange’s residents today are poor relative to surrounding townships, as the city’s Median Household Income (MHI) of $35,000 is less than half of New Jersey’s statewide MHI, while the MHI of the neighboring townships of South and West Orange are even higher than the state, at $87,000 and $122,000, respectively. As a result, about 22% of city residents live under the federal poverty line. Despite the low earnings of Orange residents, housing costs for city residents are not proportionately lower. About sixty percent of Orange residents are considered to be rent-burdened, paying more than 30% of their monthly household income on rent. However, Orange has become an incredibly diverse town with the seeds of some strong cultural institutions. Over 95% of residents today are Black or African American and/ or Hispanic or Latino, and more than 35% of residents were born outside of the United States. These immigrants have come from a wide range of nations, including Haiti, Guyana, and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. These immigrant groups have brought their cultural traditions with them and established a variety of ethnic restaurants and diverse religious institutions. In addition, the Central Valley neighborhood has been codified as the ValleyArts district, ensuring affordable space for artistic expression, and is home to
arts organizations, such as ValleyArts, Inc., the primary driver behind the local artistic renaissance, and Arts Unbound, which provides classes and other arts opportunities for people with disabilities. Given a set of strong local assets, Orange seems poised for revitalization, taking advantage of the manufacturing legacy and underdeveloped land to strengthen the local community. However, the city’s location on the New Jersey Transit line puts it within an easy commute of Manhattan, raising the specter of redevelopment around the train stations that brings with it gentrification and displacement. Some of these pressures have begun, as a number of sites in and around Main Street and the Orange Train Station have been converted or rebuilt as housing, much of which has been market-rate, and has been designed and marketed towards a population much different than the city’s current residents. While the displacement aspect of this recent investment activity hasn’t been acutely felt in the way that it has in New York City neighborhoods, many local residents, including the UofO team, voiced concerns that if continued unchecked, future development pressures could have a similar effect. Our clients thought that now was the time to act to ensure that current residents were not displaced, but empowered and included in any plans going forward.
class taking place at University of Orange
placemaking in orange
Our recommendations were grouped into three main types of interventions: the development of great public gathering spaces; the improvement of connectivity throughout the city; and the use of public art to activate space and serve as a conduit for the expression for memory. The site of the former Orange Memorial Hospital is slated for redevelopment, and provides an ideal location for the development of a new center that is reflective of community needs. By coordinating the development of housing at a mix of affordability levels with the location of a variety of facilities to serve the existing community, such as child-care centers, business incubator space, and live-work spaces for artists on site, the newly developed Orange Hospital complex could be “of the community” rather than just “in the community.” Similarly, the design of open space on the campus is essential to strengthening local ties. The complex should feature a iconic central gathering space, with clear connections to the surrounding community. The connections fostered by the hospital would be augmented with improvements to the space between the site and the central business corridor along Main Street. In addition
to connecting residents and other users to the Orange Train Station, Day Street and Railroad Place could be closed to traffic, creating public plaza space that can include moveable seating, space for local vendors, and public art that conveys a sense of local history and identity. Public art could be used not just along this corridor, but throughout the city to achieve the same purpose, empowering local residents. Allowing for the creation and installation of public art by local residents affords the opportunity for the expression of the city’s rich collective and individual memories. Public infrastructure such as garbage cans, sidewalks, and wayfinding materials could be reimagined as works of art, reflecting the city’s manufacturing heritage and diverse population. We also recommended the use of public art competitions to increase buy-in by the community’s youth population. Orange stands at a pivotal time in their history. By rejecting the false hope of improvements for local residents offered by gentrification and banding together to take ownership over their city’s future, Orange’s diverse community can be part of a revitalization effort that empowers residents rather than displacing them. Our recommendations sought to provide UofO with the tools necessary to lead that effort, and catalyze the community’s potential into a variety of improvements throughout the city. The placemaking initiatives proposed would give local residents pride in the revitalized community and in the efforts of one another.
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As such, our studio was faced with the task of recommending measures to U of O that were within their organizational capacity and could help continue the revitalization the city was experiencing without increasing the potential for displacement through gentrification. While a broad range of subject areas seemed ripe for intervention, covering topics such as the environment, housing, the local economy, and workforce development, we opted to focus our efforts on the potential posed by local placemaking techniques. Placemaking ties in seamlessly with the capacity of UofO, and builds off of the organization’s current work. We also viewed placemaking efforts as a catalyst, spurring greater community engagement and collective action, leading to necessary interventions in a wide variety of other fields. recommendations
an interview with david burney
co-founder of America’s very first Urban Placemaking Management graduate program levi johnsen finds out what placemaking is really all about
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What is the main idea of urban placemaking?
DB: Traditionally, urban planning thinks about city systems, transportation, buildings, urban form. You would lay out your strategies, build, and public space is whatever gets left afterwards. There used to be this acronym in architecture school, which is S.L.O.A.P. (Space Left Over After Planning). The idea with placemaking is to turn that on its head. It really starts with people, then the public space, and then the buildings. What is the historical context of urban placemaking? How long has this been around? DB: It has been building for a while. Everything from Jane Jacobs fighting the top down planning approach of the Moses-era, to Holly Whyte (Project for Public Spaces) doing behavior mapping of how people use public spaces, to people like Jan Gehl and the idea of a people-based approach to planning. The concepts moving the idea of placemaking have been around for some time, although the Masters in Urban Placemaking Management here at Pratt is the first graduate degree of its kind in the United States. How does the Masters in Urban Placemaking Management (UPM) embody Pratt’s Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development (PSPD)? DB: It fits very well into Pratt’s communitybased approach to planning, because
Pratt has always taken an advocacy and community-based approach to planning. It has a lot to do with environmental justice and equity, and making sure that planning serves people and not just corporations and government. So it does a good job of representing Pratt’s pedagogy. What is a good example of placemaking, and how public space can represent a unique part of the urban landscape? DB: For examples of placemaking, I would look at the smaller public plazas that we are studying in our labs along Fulton Street in Brooklyn - Fowler, Putnam, and Marcy. There are some great examples like Corona Plaza in Queens, that was really invigorated and vitalized by cultural programming as well as arts programming that involved the local community. There were a lot of ethnic groups bringing their cultural aspects to the space in terms of dance, food, and so on. There are a lot of small plazas around the city that are authentic, in the sense that they are not homogenized, and are more idiosyncratic. When plazas reflect the neighborhood, they have a sense that they belong in the neighborhood and can in turn give people a sense of belonging to the space. Let’s talk about the UPM program specifically - who is the average student? DB: You’ve got people who are already engaged in placemaking, whether they are working for the government or for
Where do students graduating from this program go? What are their professional prospects, and who hires people with a Masters in Urban Placemaking Management?
DB: There are several career paths. One is government - since a lot of public space is controlled by the government. So, for example, we have a lot of Pratt students already working with the Department of Transportation because they are managing the complete streets program and the public plaza initiatives. The second is working for private consultants and design firms who get hired by governments and developers. Then you have people who manage public spaces, like community groups and Business Improvement Districts. And now even some of the more enlightened developers are thinking about placemaking as an approach to the development of a site itself. What are the next steps academically for placemaking? Since this is the first graduate program of its kind, where does the academic field of placemaking stand? DB: I would like to see more research done on placemaking, especially from Pratt as an academic institution. Although we have best
practices, we donâ€™t have a lot of evidencebased design and analysis, and so I would love for more critical research to be done that will help advance the field. Placemaking sits at the intersection of so many academic fields, ranging from anthropology to geography to sociology, and so there is no limit to where the academic field of placemaking can go. What existing resources would you point aspiring placemakers to? DB: Project for Public Spaces has a great website, Places Magazine, and Planetizen are good, and we are currently working on getting our own site up and running. It will be called Place Dialogues, and will serve as a great resource for placemakers and those thinking about how to create and preserve successful places. Itâ€™s important to understand that this is an emerging field, and so there arenâ€™t many resources dedicated to placemaking itself. That is exactly why we need more people studying and advancing this evolving field.
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community groups. What they have to figure out is that there is a whole series of disciplines and processes that lead to successful places. It begins with community engagement, which is a skill set in its own, and involves programming, design, landscape design, transit, public transportation, sustainability, main street economics, long term programming and financing, etc. It involves a deeper understanding of the entire matrix without feeling the need to be an expert in any one area. What placemakers need to understand is how all of the moving parts fit into making a successful place, and also how to define a successful place. What we are teaching in this program is how to be a successful placemaker at a high level.
studio: green infrastructure design/build
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cathy yuhas describes the innovative and sustainable redesigns of a decommissioned correctional facility
The focus of the Green Infrastructure Design Build Summer Studio was the adaptive reuse of the Bayview Correctional Facility in Chelsea on the corner of West 20th Street and 11th Avenue. The Bayview Correctional Facility was a facility for women, which has been decommissioned due to the flooding of the structure from Superstorm Sandy. The assignment for the studio was to redesign the site without tearing down the building and to establish a closed loop water system. The site needed to include green infrastructure, urban agriculture, and stormwater management; and it had to have a net zero water loss. Gita Nandan and Elliott Maltby, the principals from thread collective in Brooklyn were the professors for the studio. They guided us through the process of reinventing this site. The first night of class was held in Chelsea.
Gita and Elliott lead us through a walking tour of the neighborhood from West 26th Street to the High Line and ending at Chelsea Piers and the Bayview Correctional Facility. Chelsea Piers is across the street from the site. Our first assignment was to conduct a site analysis of the neighborhood and the region. Then we needed to generate ideas for the adaptive reuse of the building and the programming within the building. We were grouped in teams based on interest, and five very different proposals were generated. The five different teams that generated five different ideas for the building and the programming within the building. One of the ideas was to develop the space into an indoor agriculture facility growing crops through aeroponics and aquaponics, including mushroom farming, with a year-round farmerâ€™s market on the ground floor. Another idea was a high school for environmental science and sustainability. One of the other groups created an extension of the High Line to the Hudson River Park and a Chelsea water park, which retained the shell of the building, but allowed nature to take over the space. Another team recreated a wetland water treatment system in the building as well as a formerly-incarcerated persons fellowship program between Beacon, NY and NYC, creating an agricultural and economic connection between the two. Lastly, there was the X-Complex, which is a transitional facility for formerly-incarcerated individuals and homeless where the residents will learn about agriculture and culinary practices. All five proposals included a living farm/garden or greenhouse as well as a blue
Adia Ware, Reanna Tong and Lennie Zwibel propose a green wall on the facade of the Bayview Correctional Facility
and green roof systems on the roof. The studio also included a Build project led by Professor Maltby at the 1278 Myrtle Avenue Garden in Bushwick, which is home to BK ROT, a community compost facility. The class volunteered at the site to assist with planting native plants in a rain garden as well as setting up the drainage system for the rain garden. The Build was rewarding and a great hands-on experience to assist in developing a community garden. There were also field trips led by Professor Nandan to give us a sense of the different green infrastructure and urban agriculture projects that can be found in New York City. We toured the extensive green roof system
of the Five Borough Administration Building on Randallâ€™s Island. The class also visited the Added Value Red Hook Community Farm in Brooklyn. Each one of these sites provided inspiration for our design projects. The studio enhanced and developed our technical skills by using Adobe Creative Suite as well as applying our learned knowledge of water systems to a green infrastructure project. Design was also a vital part of the project and Professors Nandan and Maltby motivated us to develop functional and creative building and roof plans. All projects were assessed by a Jury of professionals.
Georges Ekwensi, Michelle Gluck, Casey Uy and Omari Washington propose multilevel aquaculture system
capstone excerpt: coastal green infrastructure marcel negret, SES Alumni, 2015
The east Bronx waterfront plays a key role for the communities along Eastchester Bay and the upper portion of the East River. The abundance of boat clubs, marinas and tidal wetlands are examples of those waterfront assets. However, important challenges need to be urgently addressed: degraded coastal ecosystems, poor water quality and increasing risk of coastal flooding as an overarching stress factor. Based on the environmental conditions of the area, natural based strategies offer promising opportunities to address such stressing issues. Coastal Green Infrastructure restores or emulates natural coastal conditions; while
mitigating storm surge and wave action, reducing erosion, improving water quality and providing habitat for wildlife. Civic groups, waterfront communities and local government of the east Bronx envision a protected shoreline, having cleaner waterbodies and a healthier coastal ecosystem. They acknowledge that this will improve quality of life, allow for the existing social networks to evolve and ultimately strengthen their self-sufficiency. In this particular moment, it becomes crucial to explore opportunities for coastal green infrastructure aiming to maximize waterfront planning and water management efforts at Westchester Creek in the east Bronx.
Between June 2014 and January of 2015 crucial opportunities for civic participation were emerging for coastal communities in the area. Planning efforts were focusing on Westchester Creek water quality (in the DEPâ€™s Long Term Control Plan), flood resiliency (NY Rising report) and Coastal Green Infrastructure (CGI research plan for NYC).
Based on the environmental conditions at Westchester Creek, restoration of over 200 acres of Coastal Green Infrastructure will significantly improve water quality and mitigate coastal flooding. However, existing water planning efforts for the area fail to work together in order to develop effective
One possible scenario on how to integrate them would be having the partially funded NY Rising Waterfront study provide technical support to help validate Coastal Green Infrastructure implementation at Westchester Creek. Moreover, in the face of the Long Term Control Plan inability to propose cost effective strategies that reach desirable water quality criteria, the DEP should provide further assistance and resources to the waterfront study, adding water quality improvement through wetlands as a research factor. This new adaptation of the NY Rising waterfront study could even facilitate a pilot project through the Coastal Green Infrastructure research plan. Under this scenario, the new waterfront study would likely encourage the implementation of natural based strategies in the east Bronx waterfront as well as supporting the research agenda for Coastal Green Infrastructure in the city as a whole. Marcel Negret is a 2015 Alumni from the Prattâ€™s Sustainable Environmental Systems Program.
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In order to enhance participation and facilitate progressive solutions related to water management, I developed the WCCWP tool (Westchester Creek Comprehensive Water Planning Tool). The tool is designed to assist local government and civic associations by illustrating existing conditions, associated risks, ongoing planning efforts and opportunities for Coastal Green Infrastructure at Westchester Creek. The WCCWP tool consists on a series of interactive thematic maps that use a watershed-planning methodology. The tool can be found online at: http://arcg.is/1ySmSG5
strategies. Coastal Green Infrastructure could be the element that brings cohesion among these water management efforts.
student internship: DSNY
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georges ekwensi describes his internship at the Department of Sanitationâ€™s organics program
Georgesâ€™ map of organics collection areas for DSNY
My internship with the New York Department of Sanitation was primarily doing outreach and education to community members in the Spring 2015 expansion areas of the Curbside NYC Organics Collection Pilot Program. I also did research and planning for the Fall 2015 expansion areas. During this internship, I was responsible for surveying residents in areas that already had the organics program and reporting on feedback regarding participation rates, incentives and disincentives for participation, program understanding and materials gathered.
I would encourage other students to explore these skills because they can help clarify data spatially and visually. I do wish I had an understanding of SQL coming into the position, but Iâ€™ve already had opportunities to expand my knowledge on that. Iâ€™m glad that the internship gave me many opportunities to explore disparate neighborhood around the city and really interact with all kind of New Yorkers. Georges Ekwensi was an intern with the NYC Department of Sanitation during the Summer of 2014 and 2015, and is now employed full-time as the Organics Operations Coordinator on the Organics Collection Program.
Many skills that I learned at Pratt helped throughout my internship and continue to help me as an employee. Before Pratt I had never even opened GIS or Adobe Illustrator; now, work Iâ€™ve made using both programs have
DSNY BRS (Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability) interns with commissioner Kathryn Garcia
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Other major projects i worked on included compiling a Neighborhood Survey Report, redoing maps for existing collection areas and developing maps for incoming (not active) pilot areas. The most challenging part of the internship was being able to communicate information to the diverse residents that the organics collection program serves. Fotrtunately one of our Polish speaking interns was able to help with translations and confusions in the Greenpoint neighborhood.
been featured on the DSNY website and in our reports. Statistic and research methods have helped tremendously with my research on the demographics of areas added to the program in the Fall and those that may be added as the program moves forward. Understanding GIS functions and excel formulas are skills that have been integral.
a year in the historic preservation program karol chuyi xuan and her friends in the Historic Preservation Program tell us about their experiences here at Pratt the past year.
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karol chuyi xuan Like many other programs, our first year as historic preservation students was predominantly structured to build our basic knowledge of the core subject. In Nadya Nenadich’s “Concept of Preservation” class, for example, students are thrown deep into fundamental discussions around what to preserve and how. Are all buildings worth saving? How do we adapt old buildings to modern use? What does authenticity really mean? The historic preservation students also often learn outside Higgins Hall. In the past year, we attended a number of lectures by preservation organizations such as the World Monuments Fund, Friends of the Upper East Side, and the Historic District Council. Other activities we had the fortune of taking part in included walking tours around Grand Central and a popular lecture around the topic of the demolition of Penn Station by Anthony Wood, author of Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks (Routledge, 2007). As embarrassing as it might sound, I was brought to tears at this particular lecture upon hearing about the history and the tremendous effort that many people had made to fight against the demolition of the past and protecting a piece of the city’s heritage. Without such activists, I would not be walking in these breathtaking and gorgeous buildings today, half a century later.
Other classes like “Building Technology” with Theo Prudon gave us the more practical around types of building materials and structures. Lisa Ackerman’s “Concept of Heritage” also expanded my understanding of international heritage and site management plan, and this was of particular interest to me given my international background. The contrasting attitudes towards and ways of preservation in Western and Eastern cultures always puts me in a struggle when I think about applying my knowledge to preservation issues in China, my home country. In fact, the students of the historic preservation program come from a range of diverse backgrounds and this lends to the dynamic atmosphere of discussions in classes. As we move into the second year in the program, we look forward to learning more about law and policy making as it affects preservation, and of course the realities of real estate development and tax credit programs in our field. jacob gavigan This past June, four classmates and I had the opportunity to be part of a preservation excursion to Star Island seven miles off the coast of New Hampshire. Tara Kelly, the executive director of Friends of the Upper East Side introduced us to the Star Island non profit organization where they needed advise volunteers with expertise in preservation.
Over the weekend, we performed a condition assessment that focused on the windows of the 25 historic buildings on the island. We worked as a team to visually and physically evaluate the condition of the materials, the performance, the aesthetics and integrity. With this information, we put together a recommendation report for future maintenance, repair and replacement. Besides working there, we were engaged in other activities such as frisbee, star gazing, natural walking, dancing. The island itself is ever-changing.
At the end of our class, some of the students went down to Ushuaia, “the end of the world”, while others went to Uruguay or continued to explore the capital independently. It was such a unique opportunity, and I look forward to exploring preservation in the next Pratt adventure.
stephanie morabito I never thought I would make it to South America this early on but thanks to the preservation program I was able to travel to Buenos Aires—the melting pot of Argentina. A month before we left, Fabio Gremintieri, an architecture and historic preservation professor from the University of Buenos Aires held four lectures on the cultural and architectural history of Buenos Aires at Pratt. After the formal introduction, we were off to explore the capital and experience his teachings in-person. We traveled for ten days covering every inch of the city, literally. Fabio organized meetings with city planners, preservationists, and conservationists who enlightened us on the way that preservation is undertaken in the city. I quickly learned that preservation was handled very differently from New York. I found it interesting that the city preserves
The historic preservationists spent ten days in Buenos Aires exploring the city’s architecture, food and wine.
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New technology such as a solar panel farm had been built just this past years, to help sustain the island in an environmental friendly use. The seclusion of the island allowed us to remover ourselves from the busy modern life in New York City. The only way on and off the island is by way of a seven miles ferry. It is only used as a conference centre six month out of the year, with no permanent residence on it. We had such a great experience both professionally and personally that we hope to continue this opportunity with Tara for future preservation needs of the island.
uses of historic structures just as much as the physical forms. Fabio unfolded the many layers that made up the architecture and culture of the city, through visits to the colorful homes of La boca, Palermo (or the SoHo of Buenos Aires), and the most architecturally diverse cemetery, La Recoleta. Not only did we experience the city architecturally, we explored the Argentinian culture through food, wine and open street markets.
student internship: greenwood cemetery
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laura landau reflects on her summer internship at one of the city’s most beautiful and historic cemeteries, Green Wood Cemetery
This past summer, I had the exciting (and slightly unusual) opportunity of interning with Green-Wood Cemetery. Leading up to my internship this summer, I got many questions from intrigued friends and family members, wondering what I could possibly be doing at a cemetery. My time at Green-Wood may not have been the ‘typical’ summer for a planning student, but it was certainly a lot of fun. The internship came about when I contacted Green-Wood after completing a unit on the planning and design of cemeteries in Elliott Maltby’s Spring class on Parks and Open Spaces. My fascination with cemeteries may seem morbid to many but to me, they are ideal sites of intersection between green spaces, museums and monuments, and public memorialization. As one of the earliest and largest rural cemeteries in the country, GreenWood had an added appeal for me given its prominence in New York City’s history. The 478 acres that make up Green-Wood cemetery preceded both Central Park and Prospect Park, and filled New Yorkers’ park needs for a very long time. Today, in addition to being home to almost a half a million “permanent residents,” GreenWood serves as a beautiful natural resource and outdoor museum to Brooklyn, featuring an array of plants and wildlife as well as beautiful architecture that pay tribute to years of New York residents. Green-Wood is a national landmark site that more recently received arboretum status.
Under the supervision of Pratt PSPD alumnus, Chealsea Dowell, the Manager of Programs and Membership, I primarily worked on public programing. Much of my time there was spent planning a program that finally took place in October. In the past, Green-Wood has participated in Open House New York and opened up a number of mausoleums for visitors to explore and learn about with learned guides. Recently, the program broke off from Open House New York and became an independent Green-Wood house tour. My first task on the job was to identify new mausoleums to open. This involved multiple steps: First, picking mausoleums that had beautiful architecture and were large enough to host the event. Second, diving into the history of the families buried there to identify interesting narratives. Green-Wood has rooms full of archives—burial records, communications from family members requesting changes to their plots— and artifacts from prominent New Yorker families buried at the Cemetery. I researched over 10 different potential mausoleums, piecing together their family histories, and learning about the history of New York in the most hands-on way. I felt a little like Indiana Jones, getting to put together a story and then using giant skeleton keys to open up mausoleums that hadn’t been opened in years!
In the end, only a few of the families I had researched met all of the criteria to make the
program. In addition to giving people access to New York City history, the house tour by GreenWood offers the community a unique public space, giving locals a beautiful and scenic natural environment in their backyards. I was particularly intrigued by the way in which Green-Wood was used, given its strict rules on banned physical activities such as jogging and biking, and who it was used by. Green-Wood borders multiple Brooklyn neighborhoods with varying demographics, making it a converging site of incomes, cultures and social interactions. I wish I had had more time to dig deeper into these issues as they will clearly continue to come up at Green-Wood, as it inevitably meets with space restrictions in the near future. The Cemetery’s shift in its role to a local public museum or park will be an inevitable but interesting paradigm to watch. My biggest takeaway from this summer internship is the appreciation I developed for the Cemetery as a site of history and biodiversity right in the heart of Brooklyn. The borough is lucky to host such a precious gem that not many aware of. Next time you are looking for something to do or seeking a little respite from the bustling city, head over to Green-Wood. You won’t regret it!
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The Brownes, a family whom I was especially excited about researching for this program, owned one of the oldest mausoleums in the entire cemetery. It was designed by Richard Upjohn who also designed the landmarked archway at the main entrance of Green-Wood. Although I was extremely excited to see the inside of the mausoleum, something was clearly amiss upon opening it up. The interior walls had collapsed, exposing shelves of simple wooden coffins. It was a creepy experience, and I locked it up immediately reporting my observations to the maintenance staff, who later explained that they could not do anything about the conditions given the mausoleum was under “perpetual care” funding from the family. Such instances raised issues of class and ownership at Green-Wood.
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the right to information: PSPD international exchange courses leonel ponce introduces Pratt PSPD’s Traveling Information Exchange course, and the potential of international resource sharing in the battle for The City
Pratt PSPD’s International Exchange courses, taught by the late Perry Winston in Germany, Panama, and now Brazil, have utilized comparative analysis to highlight the situation of underserved communities in disparate urban environments. By concentrating on universal inequities and the global contest for The Right to the City, the class has fostered a common sense of responsibility and cross-cultural engagement. Pratt students, in the Springs of 2010, 2012, and 2013, had the opportunity to share Centro Gaspar Garcia de Direitos Humanos, a nonprofit organization providing legal and technical support for housing rights movements, homeless individuals, and organizations serving these populations in the city of São Paulo. The most recent course took place in Rio de Janeiro in the Spring of 2015, with the support of Catalytic Communities, an organization amplifying international visibility and providing
opportunities for collaboration and organization for the city’s informal communities, or favelas. Through the lens of these organizations and their collaborators, PSPD students and faculty have been exposed to the fight for the Right to the City on the ground, learning from communities whose very existence is threatened by policy and planning infrastructures. In some extreme cases, as during our visit to Vila Autódromo on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro this Spring, we have been confronted by evictions as they happen, and faced with the real consequences of planning for the few. At the same time, students have learned from our hosts about the regulatory, political, environmental and socioeconomic climate that has precipitated the inequality inherent in urban Brazil. The International Exchange course has thus far served as an opportunity for students to present
best practice case studies from New York City to their audiences in Brazil. From affordable housing, to participatory and grassroots planning, to the informal economy, the focus of the class has been to illustrate potential pathways toward an accessible City for All.
How can we ensure that this course is, in fact, a mutual exchange? But how have our host communities been impacted? Have they benefitted from our visits and discourse? How can we ensure that this course is, in fact, a mutual exchange? Each semester, the final report has been shared with our hosts in Brazil, so that they may make use of case studies and share with their networks. This year, Catalytic Communities is interested in transforming the report into a series of Symposia centered around the rising need for grassroots planning in Rio de Janeiro.
As a result of this process, the model for Pratt PSPDâ€™s International Exchange course is evolving. Potential opportunities are arising for individual student engagement in Brazil through service-based thesis research, to build upon the course themes and provide extended involvement between Pratt students and underserved Brazilian communities. The current model for the class leverages the PSPDâ€™s emphasis on community-based planning to provide an invaluable, broad and level platform for discussion and exchange of ideas. But to fulfill the potential of this course, Pratt faculty and students must share their skills and time in a professional and personal setting through project-based collaborations in Brazil and other parts of the Global South. Only then will our schools travel courses approach the vision of an equal and meaningful International Exchange. Leonel Ponce is a Pratt Alumni and current Faculty view of the port area of Rio from one of the cityâ€™s favela communties
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Similarly, we observed the way in which the excluded citizens of Brazil are working to stake their claim in the urban realm. Fruitful discussions have evolved throughout the course of each excursion, culminating in poignant roundtables at the end of each trip. Students have acquired a broader perspective of the struggle for equality in our cities, potentially enhancing their approach and strategies to planning.
Additionally, PSPD faculty has submitted a panel proposal to the 2016 World Planning Schools Congress, to critically examine the Exchange Course and similar field-based international pedagogical models, and their capacity to inform programs and strategies of host organizations and communities. Other conference proposals are being prepared, and a compilation and analysis of content from the previous workshops is in the works.
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royce gene describes PSPDâ€™s international exchange with local leaders in some of Brazilâ€™s most active favela communities
In March 2015, 11 graduate students from Pratt Instituteâ€™s Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development participated in a weeklong excursion to conduct an information exchange on participatory planning in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The purpose of the exchange was to partner with a nonprofit grassroots organization, Catalytic Communities (CatComm), in the host Brazilian city to share case studies, research, experiences and ideas in participatory planning and grassroots organization across the two different urban environments and cultures.
Catalytic Communities was founded in 2000 and is dedicated to advocacy for favelas (local informal communities not recognized officially by the government) and the civic rights of residents. The weeklong exchange was structured through visits to five different favelas, each with its own distinct identity, history, and hurdles. Leaders from each community led the tours, with CatComm staff acting as translators for the group.
The first visit was to Rocinha, the largest favela in existence in Rio de Janeiro. Because it is an informal community, no reliable census data exists to account for the actual population, but unofficial sources and community leaders estimate the population to be greater than 200,000 residents (while the official government number puts this number closer to 70,000). Rocinha is a vast and steep hilly area with amazing views of the city below and filled with vibrant culture and diverse people, but it’s residents experience high poverty rates, lack of housing quality and quantity, and a glaring absence of basic services like public waste collection.
asa branca: the struggle against gentrification & displacement The second favela on the itinerary, Asa Branca, was settled three decades ago in the West Zone of the city. It is a significantly smaller community than Rocinha, with approximately 1,150 housing units located on more accessible flatlands. The community here has made a significant effort to develop the favela for more permanent residential status, and its active political role has made the city more responsive to community demands paved roads, waste collection, and the construction of working sewage lines.
Interestingly, the relative safety and amenities of Asa Branca is making the informal neighborhood more desirable, and current residents are facing the threat of displacement from gentrification and rising housing costs that would be exacerbated by the completion of the BRT line and economic activity of the Olympic Games. vila autódromo: the battle against eminent domain and the impact of the olympics The third visit was to Vila Autódromo, a small favela located directly adjacent to the Olympic Park site where several hotels and stadiums are currently under construction. Its newly desirable location has made it the subject of severe displacement of residents and eminent domain battles with the city over the past decade. In the midst of the battle to resist displacement in 2012, the residents organized and partnered with two local universities to create the “Vila Autódromo People’s Plan” an alternative to
Where the city fails to provide, the community responds through innovative solutions. They have created a mail distribution service by borrowing the zip code from the only officially recognized road in the area and assigning a locally-owned enterprise to act as a paid post office and distribution service. At Asa Branca, the Pratt exchange group was invited to share a home-cooked meal with the
asa branca houses next to looming residential towers
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Due to the high demand for housing and the scarcity of adequate land, buildings are constructed higher than what the government considers safe, and at times with questionable structural integrity, in order to accommodate more people. The existing utility services come from illegal home-built networks barely held together.
family and friends of Bezerra, the President of the home owner’s association. During the meal, Bezerra described the challenges faced by the community. The construction of a new Bus Rapid Transit line for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics threatens to displace at least 30 families.
“whoever doesn’t want to leave, then stay” was a quote from the government, written in irony on wall of a home destroyed by the government in vila autódromo
the City’s plans for the favela. The community presented the plan to the City and won several awards for their work. Ultimately, however, the plan has been ignored. The visit to Vila Autódromo allowed the Pratt students to witness a very intense and passionate debate over the threatened existence of the favela, as the government continued to offer buy-outs to residents that created a divide within the community between those who believe they should continue fighting for the right to remain and those who believe the buy-outs represent the best chance for receiving some form of compensation for an outcome that is already all but inevitable. At the time of the visit, only 50 families remained within a community that used to span hundreds. Throughout the favela, abandoned homes have been bulldozed or rendered uninhabitable by the government; political graffiti protesting the inhumane treatment of the community are displayed on many of these broken homes. Vila Autódromo’s residents
continue to be displaced by construction activities and eminent domain. vale encantado: rio’s environmentally sustainable favela The fourth visit brought the excursion group into the lush hillside rainforests on the outskirts of the Tijuca National tropical forest reserve to visit Vale Encantado. This favela is a beautiful and peaceful oasis within the natural setting of the forest. In 2005, several residents launched an agricultural cooperative to provide employment for a community in economic need. Today, the cooperative is comprised of paid members that produce and harvest food within from the fertile lands of the forest, and use part of the produce to operate a farm-totable restaurant as part of their eco-tourism model. They are also developing several sustainable projects, with assistance from grants and local universities, such as an anaerobic digester to process organic waste from the
cooperative kitchen to make their community environmentally sustainable and resilient. providencia: rio’s oldest favela
Students also several beautiful public art displays on the tour through the favela. One striking project was an art protest in which a local artist painted giant portraits of residents at risk of displacement on their homes to illuminate the faces of those who would have to move. community-based planning examples in new york city During the semester before the trip to Brazil, under the guidance of faculty instructors Perry Winston and Leonel Lima-Ponce, Pratt Institute students prepared a series of New York City case studies highlighting the trials, tribulations, and histories of local community-led planning efforts for housing, social and economic development, and environmental justice across the city. The case studies included: • Manhattanville’s 197A Plan • the Cooper Land Trust and SPURA in the Lower East Side • East New York Farms • Si Se Puede women-owned worker’s cooperative in Sunset Park • The Bedstuy community planning initiative • Solid waste management advocacy in South Bronx, Newtown Creek, Staten Island & Jamaica
After a week of visiting favelas and meeting with community residents, Pratt Students presented these case studies to a diverse audience of students, favela community leaders, and planners at Columbia University’s Studio-X center in Rio. The presentation led to a vibrant discussion in which community leaders and students exchanged ideas, discussed similarities, and identified differences in each city’s ability to mobilize grassroots community planning efforts The entire excursion was an eye-opening experience for the students and faculty of Pratt. The battles that residents in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro faced held some stark similarities to the struggles against gentrification and displacement that New York City communities face. There were also notable differences, such as the level of State-level recognition of community-led planning efforts. While the effectiveness of New York City’s government-condoned community planning system may be debated, it does exist. However, it was enlightening to see how, in the absence of these fully-functioning, officially sanctioned avenues for participatory planning, communities were mobilizing in incredibly innovative ways to bring services, housing, environmental improvements and a sense of community and empowerment to their residents. These are lessons that both the Pratt students and faculty, and the Brazilian community leaders will carry forward into their futures as planners, organizers, and community members.
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The final favela the students visited was Providencia, the first favela in Rio de Janeiro in the port area Morro (hill) da Providencia . This visit allowed the students to learn about some of the city’s attempts to develop the favela through projects like the cable car system to increase accessibility to and from the neighborhood. However, members of the community argued that the cable car with its usage restricted to certain hours was primarily built for the benefit of the tourists from the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, not as a vital investment into the needs of the community.
• Rockaway Waterfront Alliance
tokyo: international public space planning
nur atiqa asri recounts her experience of community planning and public space design in japan this past summer
In June, 12 students from the Pratt Program for Sustainable Planning and Development (PSPD) embarked on a two week trip to Tokyo, Japan to study the design and use of Japanese public spaces. The biannual international planning trip was led by Professor Jonathan Martin, and PSPD alumna, Alexa Fabrega. Students on the trip produced three separate reports on the social life, formal design elements, and governmental regulations and policies surrounding public spaces in Japan. The findings in the report were based on a mixed methodology of on-site observations and secondary research, and were aimed at building upon work conducted by previous classes.
The trip coincided with the start of Tsuyu, the annual rainy season, which meant warm and moist days in anticipation of summer. While in Tokyo, students were housed in the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center (NOMYC), which was established in 1965 on partial grounds of the 1962 Olympic Village, conveniently located two train stops from Shinjuku â€“ Tokyoâ€™s largest transit hub. Over the course of two weeks, students were engaged in walking tours and field observations from as early as 8 in the morning till 5 in the evening. The group walked an average of 11 miles per day, exploring the various
was the only glue that would keep the groups continually involved in the area’s rejuvenation. Soon enough, the city began gutting the former 20sq meter brothels and refurbishing them as offices, studios, and workshops. In addition, two larger studios were constructed under the
guided walking tours put a Japanese lens on familiar topics such as historic preservation, community planning, and land use regulations.
Keikyu Line train tracks along the Ooka River. Built with glass façades and elevated walkways, the studios are highly visible to visitors who often stop to watch the artists working below. The new transparency that the Koganecho studios now have provides a refreshing contrast to the opaque brothels of yesterday. This unique design approach also maximizes use of normally vacant space under train tracks, a very familiar problem faced here in New York, and which the Design Trust for Public Space is beginning to tackle head on with the NYC Department of Transportation.
Of the more fascinating lectures attended by the group was one conducted by the director of the Koganecho Art Center, a non-profit organization set up in 2009 to support the visual and performing arts disciplines following the eradication of the drug and prostitution trades that proliferated in Yokohama after World War II. While the three-month campaign headed by the police in 2005 to eradicate the sex trade in the area was overwhelmingly successful, it awakened a new set of problems for the authorities — without the cash flow and foot traffic generated by the brothels, the streets in Koganecho now resembled ghost towns of post-industrial Japan. The arts appeared to be the only solution to the problem. With a diverse range of stakeholders in the area – the police, the residents, the city authorities – art
Today, the Koganecho Arts District continues to revitalize the area through arts-based efforts like artist-in-residence programs and community art workshops. Its array of programs is carefully curated to provide opportunities to promising Japanese artists and engage local residents on a regular basis. Another highlight of the trip was a joint workshop held at Waseda University. The
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neighborhoods, architectural developments, and public spaces around the city. Students were also fortunate enough to sit in joint lectures conducted by faculty from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Waseda University and various community leaders. These lectures and
workshop, themed “Diversity of Townscape” aimed to compare and contrast the different ways in which foreigners and Japanese perceive the urban landscape. The workshop’s focus on ethnicity is one that does not commonly fall under the realm of Japanese planning practices. In fact, many of the Waseda students training to be planners were strictly studying civil engineering and landscape architecture, heavily focusing on the physical landscape of cities rather than social and community impacts of planning. After a briefing of the history of the Okubo neighborhood, in which the University was located, both Pratt and Waseda students were instructed to go out in groups and take pictures of the urban environment, noting things that students perceived as “positive,” “negative,” and “curious.” Since the 1980s Okubo has been and continues to grow as a vibrant and unique center of multiculturalism. The neighborhood is colored by immigrants from all around the world, and is characterized by small streets and mixed-use buildings populated with ethnic restaurants, grocery stores, and remittance services. Flags and multilingual signs representing the various nations were also prominent throughout the district, a peculiar trait for neighborhoods in Tokyo. Through dialogue between Waseda and Pratt students, it was discovered that although open space and nature were categorized as positive by both groups of students, there were significant cultural differences between what was perceived as “curious” and “negative.” For example, Pratt students saw murals in the neighborhood as a form of public art and community development, while Waseda students perceived this as “out of context” and “chaotic.” Again, in an attempt to define the assets of the neighborhood, Pratt students diverged from Waseda students by acknowledging diversity as a clear strength and positivity for the neighborhood. Waseda students, on the other hand, were more concerned with the impact of such diversity
on the quality of life for Japanese residents. In particular, they were apprehensive about the preservation of quietness, politeness, and general Japanese etiquette. At the end of the session, both Waseda and Pratt students came together to come up with creative solutions to address concerns around open spaces and civic engagement. The proposals included an Okubo Business Improvement District that would oversee streetscape improvement, manage multilingual signage, and maintain partnerships with local institutions like Waseda University. The workshop was an eye-opening experience that engaged planning at an intersection with culture. The challenge of planning for a multicultural neighborhood such as Okubo requires asking what types of values a planner wants to promote. The notion of diversity and inclusion is predicated on the value of a more democratic and free society, rather than one of order, conservatism, and efficiency. Although this apparent conflict might appear to be a challenge for the Japanese, it is inspiring to learn that the process of community planning, or machizukuri, is slowly growing in the city. It is definitely an exciting moment in Japan’s planning system and we cannot wait to see what the city has in store for community planning practices.
an interview with sasaki sensei
Profesor Yoh Sasaki of Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan) is in New York for 3 months conducting research around public spaces.
In a short interview with Nur Atiqa Asri, she sits down and reveals some of her deepest, darkest secrets… her favorite public spaces in NYC
Can you speak a little about the research you are currently conducting around public spaces? SS: I am exploring the connection between urban areas and nature – especially water bodies. How to manage the systems of nature within an urban context. What public space have you been to in the city that, in your opinion, has demonstrated good management of the natural systems? SS: Highbridge Park in northern Manhattan What are some surprises that you have discovered in conducting your research around public spaces here in the city? SS: The availability of data and information it’s so easy to get important information here. Community organizations provide data for various levels of knowledge. I am curious about who engages in this work and where the budget comes from. It is difficult to do this in Japan as there are no nonprofit organizations and associations. The public is usually going against private corporations directly about issues related to development. What are the key differences between public spaces here in New York and back home in Tokyo?
SS: Americans pay high respect to public spaces and people in New York enjoy public space. In Tokyo, people do not use and do not appreciate public spaces. This may be due to the climate (e.g. rain, insects, etc.). New Yorkers are much tougher – they love the sun, the Japanese not so much. What is your favorite public space in New York, so far? SS: My favorite park is Brooklyn Bridge Park – its shape and design are more ordinary and not too sophisticated. The furniture is ordinary. The design of the water’s edge is ordinary, but the back story and the challenges of the park make it interesting. Its results are still enjoyed by many. The best designs are those that people do not know were designed. So you’re temporarily living in Brooklyn while you’re here, what do you think of the borough so far?
SS:I chose to stay in Brooklyn after reading Paul Auster’s novel, The Brooklyn Follies. The novel made me want to truly experience Brooklyn. My favorite public space in the borough is the stoops of Brooklyn. So many different people at all times of the day hanging out on the stoops – it is just so vibrant. Thank you Prof Sasaki and good luck on your research!
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Location: Higgins Hall, Room 206 – the smelly leather couch
apa conference 2015
second year city and regional planning student, greyson clark , recounts his trip to Seattle and Vancouver for the American Planning Association’s 2015 National Planning Conference.
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Seattle is one of those cities that planners like to discuss. I had never visited or thought too seriously about the West Coast, but after the trip out there in April, I found myself contemplating a relocation to Cascadia. Pratt’s delegation departed from Kings County and arrived a few hours later in King County, Seattle.The weather was uncharacteristically good, and we were ready for the APA National Planning Conference. This was my first APA event, and looking back on it, there were two major aspects that I thought gave value to the event. First was the ability to meet all of the people who came to the conference. While I had some semi-conscious understanding of the diversity of the planning profession, this fact was brought into sharp relief as I heard introductions, interests, and professional experiences of the conference attendees. I met planners who had earned their salt over decades of work, others who were fresh into their professional careers, and finally those who were still in planning school. The conference even led to my reconnecting with a friend currently working as a planner in Atlanta - the same friend who introduced me to the concept of planning a few years back. Secondly, the conference sessions added tremendous value to my knowledge and capacity as an aspiring planner. Consulting the conference guide and trying to select sessions to attend turned out to be quite the challenge. When I finally managed to find a good cross-section of seminars, I got to see how professional planners applied their training in a variety of settings. I found the best sessions to be those specific to planning issues facing
the Pacific Northwest. I was fascinated by the local applications of planning strategies that we had learned about at school. Theory was made tangible as planners shared their experiences with Seattle’s community planning processes, growth management programs, and Vancouver’s economic development strategies. Perhaps most exciting to learn was the discovery of new land use issues in Washington relating to the legalization, cultivation, and selling of marijuana. While the conference itself was an invaluable experience, getting to explore the city of Seattle with my fellow Pratt planners was altogether a memorable ride, especially outside the classroom and outside of New York City. A small group of us used Airbnb to rent a quaint house in the loveliest part of Seattle, and I have the fondest memories of us walking to the conference from the house. We shared meals and laughs together and relished the outdoor activities which were so dearly needed after a blistering cold winter. Seattle is a wonderful city to explore. The parks, waterfront, and distant mountains do not disappoint. The Pratt contingency was also fortunate enough to go on a public art walking tour. We met with city planning officials to hear about their strategies for the city’s development, including waterfront planning and design, and their attempts to preserve cultural districts. We also went on a tour in the International District led by a wonderful practitioner, teacher, and community activist, Jeffrey Hou - someone who would perfectly reflected the best parts of Pratt’s communitydriven mission.
Our trip to Seattle has certainly been one of the highlights of my time at Pratt (and I did not even begin to discuss our multi-day excursion to Vancouver!). I learned so much about a new part
of the country, deepened my knowledge about the planning profession, and strengthened friendships. You canâ€™t beat a week like that.
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DIG event: unconference
by second year city and regional planning student, jonathan marable
topics generated by participants at the unconference
On March 28, 2015, the Diversity Initiatives Group (DIG) of Pratt Institute’s Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development hosted its second annual “DiverCity” Unconference. The theme was “Living. Growing. Changing: Reflections on the Past and Planning for the Future of a Diverse City.” Participants hailed from a multitude of disciplines and origins to discuss participant-generated themes such as “What is Community? Old vs. New,” “Education, Engagement & Culture,” and “Disasters and the Urban Environment.” The day was ripe with opportunities to share experiences, learn from others, and establish action steps for the future. Ms. Molly Rose Kaufman, esteemed provost of the University of Orange and experienced community organizer, who happens to be the daughter of renowned clinical psychiatrist and “town shrink” Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, opened the day with an awe-inspiring presentation of University of Orange’s work in her hometown Orange, New Jersey. Her sound advice on community engagement and the fruits of her labor exhibited in pictures and video footage accompanied a rousing charge for us to commence the work set out for us for the day of sharing, learning, and building. Upon completing the charge, Ms. Kaufman retired the “speaker” hat in exchange for the “participant” hat. Why? Because at an unconference, all participants simultaneously play the role of teacher, student, and visionary. Unconferences emphasize informal exchanges between participants as an alternative to structured events where field experts pontificate
to onlookers. At its foundation, unconferences acknowledge that every attendee, no matter his or her background or perspective, possesses a level of expertise and has something to contribute. Though planning-related ideas and concepts were undoubtedly conceived and exchanged throughout the conference, some of the most educational moments came when participants let down their guard and entrusted fellow participants with glimpses into their personal experience as people navigating life in New York City. Too often in the planning field, diversity is treated as a tangential discussion topic of little importance. Those who possessed positions of power in the past pushed policies and plans that pursued homogenization of society, planting seeds for problems in full bloom today. In reality society has never been homogenous and never will be. Our diversity is what defines us all as individuals, and it shapes our experiences and perspectives whether or not we are aware of it. As the past has eloquently demonstrated, the failure to acknowledge, respect, and embrace diversity ultimately results in everyone being worse off. The fear of that which is different is so ingrained in our human psyche that it affects our everyday thoughts and actions. Planners and professionals in planningrelated fields are not immune to this fear. This unconference was a brave step forward against this fear. Every journey, no matter how difficult, begins with a brave step.
youth in planning
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reanna tong & kate selden recount the day of interactive planning workshops that PSPD students held for brooklyn highschoolers
In May, 2015, four first-year graduate students in Prattâ€™s City and Regional Planning program, Inna Branzburg, Lian Farhi, Reanna Tong and Kate Selden, provided a workshop for five 9th-grade global history classes at Bay Ridgeâ€™s High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology. The goal of the visit was to introduce high school students to the field of city planning in a fun and creative way, to engage them on what kind of decisions planners and others are making that shape the city they live in, and to get them to think about different careers in the planning field.
The workshop utilized an interactive planning method developed by James Rojas, an LAbased urban planner, community activist and artist. James Rojas attended several of the morning classes to provide support and guidance. The workshop model involved setting out a large collection of found objects, crafts, toys, and other odds and ends in front of students. First, students were asked to use the materials individually to build their favorite childhood memory. After sharing their memories, the Pratt students led a discussion on the components of a city-
where do people live? Where does garbage go? How do you get from home to school? Students were then asked to work in small groups to build their ideal cities using the objects in front of them. After building their cities, students went around and gave the class a tour of their cities.
example, for those students who liked building the parks and natural elements, the facilitators suggested looking into landscape architecture. Transportation planners or engineers were suggested for those who enjoyed building roads and transportation systems.
With names like “TeleCity”, “Dreamer City” and “Biketopia,” the students were able to creatively explore and express their own experiences living in cities, and connect their experiece to the larger context of what is needed to make a city feel comfortable, beautiful, inclusive and functional. The class discussion allowed students to debrief the successes and challenges they had working in groups to collaborate on a vision for their ideal city. Students also expressed how much fun it was to be able to “play” and do a hands-on activity, a rare occurrence in high school classrooms.
The school visit also included a Q&A discussion in which students had the opportunity to ask the Pratt students and James Rojas about their work experience and learn more about the field of City Planning. The day was a major success and the classroom teacher asked Pratt students to return in Fall 2015 to lead another interactive workshop with her students.
The class ended with a brief discussion about the different careers students could explore based on their interests during the exercise. For Students build their ideal city out of objects and crafts
updates on the exciting projects and accomplishments of PSPD students, alumni and faculty Professor Ayse Yonder, of the City & Regional Planning program, joined an interdisciplinary
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photo credit: WPPilot, wikimedia CC
John Shapiro, PSPD Chair, and Jonathan Martin and David Burney, PSPD Professors, were
part of a team of facilitators for the East Mid-Town sterring committee, which was charged with producing a plan for the future of East Mid-town to replace the plan voted down by the City Council in 2014. The committee was composed of representatives of Community Boards Five and Six, REBNY, Municipal Arts Society, organized labor groups, business improvment districts and landmarks advoates.
Nadya Nenadich, Academic Coordinator and Professor in the Historic Preservation Program presented her paper,
“Remembering & Forgetting: Historic Preservation in Puerto Rico” at the The Fitch Colloquium “Beyond the Five Boroughs: International Preservation Insights.” This year’s annual colloquium focused on comparative practices around the world.
meeting in June 10-12, 2015, organized by the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF) in Oslo, Norway. The meeting convened 15 gender-focused experts from different disciplines to brainstorm about how to develop a broader gender agenda for post-conflict reconstruction and sustainable peace building
Jaime Stein, Director of Programs for Sustainable Environmental Systems, and Architecture Professor, Zehra Kuz, launched Fluid Frontiers in
January, 2015, an interdisciplinary research project that examines the Red Hook sewershed as a test-case for developing a methodology and a sewershed specific approach by which the City can engage communities in the implementation of alternative water management technologies. The project examines the capacity of aggregated private property projects in mitigating combined sewer outfalls in the face of increasingly severe wet weather.
image credit: LMCC
Jonathan Martin, PSPD Professor, with PSPD alumni Naomi Seixas and Daniel Arnow, and Risa Shoup a CRP graduate student, worked with
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) in Spring 2015 to create a Sustainable Arts Indicators Framework, which is a model to assess LMCC’s impact on New York City Artists and Lower Manhattan. The framework uses 29 performance indicators to measure environmental, social and economic performance in alignment with LMCC’s mission and values that it strives to bring to its communities.
SES student, Michelle Gluck,
participated in a new fellowship with Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Spring of 2015 in partnership with the NYC Compost Project. Michelle assisted the NYC Compost Project, within the BBG Horticulture Department, with an expanded food scrap collection initiative. Using GIS ArcMap software, Michelle created a set of maps for the Compost Project staff to identify ideal locations to place “commuter food scrap drop off” sites.
Facilities Management student, Stephanie Williams,
received a prestigious WX New York Women Executives in Real Estate Scholarship Award for the last school year. The WX Scholarship Program supports promising and bright young women in their studies in real estate-related fields. The Scholarship offers financial support, mentoring programs, career guidance, and networking opportunities for the recipients.
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