Projects

People:

Richard Plunz

Patricia Culligan

Michael Conard

Maria Paola Sutto

Vanessa Espaillat Bonnelly

 

Collaborators

Geeta Mehta

Morana M. Stipisic

Victor Body-Lawson

 


Research Interns

 

Scott Archer

Priscila Coli

Samarth Das

Kirk Finkel

Sagi Golan

Katia Perini

Houman Saberi

Leigh Whittinghill

 
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Richard A. Plunz

Director, Urban Design Lab
Director, Urban Design Program, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Richard Plunz is a leading figure in all aspects of urban design and is considered one of the world’s leading authorities in urban housing. The Housing Studio, which he developed at Columbia, has now become an integral part of architectural curricula everywhere.

Prof. Plunz moved to Columbia University in 1974 and in 1977 became chairperson of the Division of Architecture, with oversight on the renewal of the professional Masters Curriculum. Since 1992, Plunz has been director of the Urban Design Program, one of the most substantative curricula in the field.

His research into the evolution of housing in New York City has led to a number of projects including his landmark study, A History of Housing in New York City, (1990).In his long term research interests, he completed a fourteen-year project on the urban expropriation of the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Park in New York State, with the help of J. M. Kaplan Fund and others; a three-decade study of physical and social transformation at Turgutreis, (Bodrum), on the Turkish Aegean Coast. The study was in part supported by The Aga Khan Award. In 2005, Plunz was appointed director of the Urban Design Lab at Columbia’s Earth Institute.

After receiving professional degrees in engineering and in architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Plunz specialized in urbanism related to both urban history and application of cybernetic and information theory to urban development. Plunz has held professorships at Rensselaer, Pennsylvania State University, Columbia University, and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). He has taught and lectured extensively and internationally.

At Rensselaer and Penn State, Plunz developed pioneer research related to hospital design and public secondary education related to inner city contexts. With the support of the United States Public Health Service, Plunz conducted pioneering research in digitized environmental modeling for a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia (Mantua). He developed anthropological field techniques toward built form considerations. Here he initiated his long-term research interests related to housing design and development of sustainable higher-density alternatives to the suburban single-family house. He continued his involvement with the anthropology of building with an extensive study on the two-century transformation of a utopian industrial community in San Leucio, Caserta, (Italy).

Plunz’s work has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the J. M. Kaplan Fund, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Aga Kahn Award, the United States Public Health Service and the Ford Foundation. In 1991, he received the Andrew J. Thomas Award from the American Institute of Architects for his pioneering work in housing.

Plunz is the author of many articles, studies, and reports. Among his publications are many books, including A History of Housing in New York City, (1990), translated in French and Japanese, The Urban Lifeworld. Formation, Perception, Representation (2002); After Shopping (2003), Eco-Gowanus: Urban Remediation by Design (2007).  His last co-edited book is Urban Climate Change Crossroads (2010).

B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1965; B.Arch., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1966; M.Arch., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1967.

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Patricia Culligan

Co-Director, Urban Design Lab
Professor, Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University

A leader in the field of water resources and urban sustainability, Culligan has worked extensively with The Earth Institute’s Urban Design Lab at Columbia University to explore novel, interdisciplinary solutions to the modern day challenges of urbanization, with a particular emphasis on the City of New York. Culligan is the director of a joint interdisciplinary Ph.D. program between Columbia Engineering and the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation that focuses on designs for future cities, including digital city scenarios. Her research group is active in investigating the opportunities for green infrastructure, social networks and advanced measurement and sensing technologies to improve urban water, energy, and environmental management.

Culligan received her M.Phil. and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, England and was on the faculty at M.I.T before joining Columbia in 2003. She has received numerous awards for her contributions in engineering research and education, including the Egerton Career Development Chair (1996), the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award (1999), M.I.T’s Arthur C. Smith Award for contributions to undergraduate life (1999), Columbia Engineering School Alumni Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award (2006), and Columbia’s Presidential Teaching Award (2007). Culligan has supervised over 40 Doctoral student theses either as a reader or a sponsor.

Culligan serves on the National Academies Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board and the Board of Earth Sciences and Resources Committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering. In 2011, she was elected to the Board of Governors of the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Geo-Institute. She is the author or co-author of six books, four book chapters, and over 120 technical articles.

Culligan served as the Vice-Dean of Academic Affairs for Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Applied Science and Engineering from 2010 to 2012. In 2012, Columbia University named Culligan the founding Associated Director of its newly established Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. 

B.Sc. Hons. (Civil Engineering) 1982, University of Leeds, M.Phil. 1985; Ph.D. 1989, Cambridge University

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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Michael Conard

Project Coordinator, Urban Design Lab
Adjunct Associate Professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University

Michael Conard is a registered architect in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. He holds an NCARB certificate, is a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design and is a Past Fellow of the Design Trust for Public Space. 

He has directed applied and academic urban design research in both the public and private sectors. His work has bridged urban and architectural design and environmental sustainability with public health, local economic development and equal access. Most recently he edited The Carbon Studio: Bankok (2008), which addressed urban sustainable redevelopment along the Padung Lungkasem Canal Site in the historic core of Bankok.

 

Michael has directed numerous studios and studies at the GSAPP and Urban Design Lab. Some of his recent projects include Curbing Childhood Obesity (2008), a design and systems recommendations to address the current epidemic, and Creating a Cultural Corridor: 125th Street (2007), a local cultural sustainability plan.  He co-directed Hell's Kitchen South: Developing Strategies (2002), a set of design and planning recommendations to the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association and the Design Trust for Public Space. His work has also been published and exhibited internationally.

B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1980; B.Arch., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1981; M.S. in Architecture and Urban Design, Columbia University, 1993.

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Maria Paola Sutto

Program Coordinator, Urban Design Lab

Maria Paola Sutto is a biologist and a journalist. Her research interests focus on  environmental impacts at different scales, from molecular markers to the organized urban systems that allow human species to develop. She moved to the United States in 1992 as Foreign Correspondent for the emerging field of multimedia (1993-2001) while writing extensively for all aspects of urban life. In Italy she began her career as research scientist for molecular transport mechanisms in diabetes. She continued to apply her skills in multiple ways and in a variety of fields: environmental consulting, publishing, and for a decade was Theatre Director in Rome. In 2008 Maria Paola joined the Urban Design Lab.
 
Among her activities have been the establishing of the Sullivan County Green Energy Fair which pioneered locally-based green enterprise (2007), the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition (2005), and together with other scientists the Columbia Green Roof Consortium (2009). She continues to be an active promoter of initiatives that foster effective research like the recent New York City Town and Gown Initiative, that coordinates the research platform between city agencies and national academic institutions. Maria Paola is the co-editor of Urban Climate Change Crossroads (with R. Plunz, 2010).
 
B.S., M. Sc. in Biology, University of Milan, 1985. 

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Vanessa Espaillat Bonnelly

Staff Research Associate, Urban Design Lab

Vanessa Espaillat Bonnelly is an architect and urban designer, trained academically in Santo Domingo, London, and New York in the field of architecture, housing, and urban design. She holds a Master of Science in architecture and urban design from Columbia University and a Master of Arts in housing and urbanism from the Architectural Association School of Architecture.
 
She has served as an associate in architecture at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, where she taught the Urban Ecology Studio alongside Professors Plunz and Culligan. In the past year, she has been co-editor of several academic publications as a researcher at the Columbia’s Urban Design Lab, the latest one titled: “Alternative Futures for New Rochelle: The Next Generation Live/Work City.”
 
B.Arch. UNIBE, 2009; M.A. Housing and Urbanism. AA School of Architecture, 2010. M.Sc. Architecture and Urban Design, Columbia University, 2013.
 

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Geeta Mehta

Research Advisor, Urban Design Lab

Geeta is the Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at GSAPP, and also serves on the Advisory Board of the Millennium Cities Initiatives at the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
She received her Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo, M.S. in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University, and B. Arch from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi. She has taught and practiced urban design in USA, Japan, India,  China, Vietnam and Indonesia. She has worked on the master plan for QTSC software technology Park in Vietnam; JICA projects in Japan and Indonesia, and slum redevelopment projects in India and Ghana. She has served as the President of the American Institute of Architects in Japan, and currently serves on the advisory board of the Friends of University of Tokyo in USA.Geeta is the co-author of several books on Japanese architecture including Japan Style, Japan House, Japan Living, Japan Gardens and New Japan Architecture. Her upcoming books include "City Connect: Regeneration, Equity and Sustainability in the 21st Century".
 
Geeta is the co-founder of “URBZ: User Generated Cities” (www.urbz.net), a think tank committed to empowering people at the community level to improve their own neighborhoods. She is also the founder of Social Capital Credits (SoCCs), a virtual currency for incentivizing social good and community based urban development with “Asia Initiatives” (www.asiainiitiatives.org), an organization she founded and heads.
 

 

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Morana M. Stipisic

Research Advisor, Urban Design Lab
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Morana Stipisic, trained as an architect and planner, has worked in New York City on various projects of differing types and scales. Striving to bridge the gap between architecture and planning, she entered the Urban Design Program at Columbia University where her team received the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize for the best final semester project. After graduation, Morana accepted a position with Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates where she expanded her experience working on large scale master-planning projects. 
Morana has taught architecture at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and collaborated with Hong Kong University. She continues to expand her academic involvements, serving as a guest critic at several universities for architectural and urban design studios, and she lectures on topics of sustainable development with a focus on urban infrastructure. Morana is collaborating with the Urban Design Lab on development of guidelines for competitive and liveable cities, jointly with the Environment and Development Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific where she is under contract as an urban design consultant.

M.S. in Architecture and Urban Design, Columbia University, 2005; M. Arch. and Urban Planning, University of Zagreb, Croatia, 1999;  LEED® Accredited Professional with the United States Green Building Council and AIA Associate Member. 

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Victor Body-Lawson

Research Advisor, Urban Design Lab

Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the Catholic University of America (1980) and Master of Architecture from Columbia University (1984). Victor is a licensed architect in New York and New Jersey and a founder of Body-Lawson Associates Architects and Planners (1993). The firm focuses on master planning, institutional, commercial and residential design. He has directed the production of several flagship projects including the Master Plan for the Riverside Church in New York City and the design of a new 2,500 person sanctuary for the Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Jamaica, New York. He was a partner at Brownstone Partners Real Estate Development Consortium where he designed and developed projects in Harlem (2000). He is the recipient of the 2011 HUD Door Knocker Award for outstanding work in Affordable Housing, based on his work for Grace Towers Housing Project in Mount Vernon, NY. He was also a 1997 Design Fellow at the Design Trust of Public Space. He has taught at the School of Architecture at Yale University, City College of New York, and at the School of Architecture at the City of Havana, Cuba. He is a professional member of the National Organization of Minority Architects and the New York Coalition of Black Architects.

 

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Scott Archer

Research Assistant, Urban Design Lab

Scott Archer is a LEED-accredited architectural and urban designer who has studied at Columbia University (Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design), Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architecture Center and Mississippi State University (Bachelor of Architecture). He has taught in the New York/Paris Urban Studies Studio at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and in the Sustainable Urbanization course for high school students in the School of Continuing Education. He has worked professionally with TLM Associates, Inc. in Jackson, Tennessee, on architectural projects ranging from large-scale university masterplanning to small-scale public facilities. He is currently employed as a Assistant Researcher at the Urban Design Lab, developing health design initiatives and publications for urban design projects in Kumasi, Ghana.

B.Arch., Mississippi State University, 2012; M.Sc. Architecture and Urban Design, Columbia University, 2013.

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Priscila Coli

Research Assistant, Urban Design Lab

Priscila Coli is an architect and urban designer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urbanism from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and completed one year of her studies in the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture of Belleville in Paris. She recently earned an M.Sc. in architecture and urban design from Columbia University, where she collaborates in research and as an editor at the Earth Institute’s Urban Design Lab. She has worked in Rio de Janeiro in housing, infrastructural, institutional and public space projects. During the spring of 2014, she served as a teaching assistant for the Advanced Studio III at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.

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Samarth Das

Research Assistant, Urban Design Lab

Samarth Das is an Urban Designer and Architect from Mumbai. He has completed his Masters in Urban Design and Architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University and his Bachelor of Architecture degree from KRVIA in Mumbai. Having practiced professionally in Ahmedabad and Mumbai and subsequently in New York City, Samarth’s work focuses on the design of articulate spaces within cities that promote active participation and interaction amongst people.At the Urban Design Lab, his primary role was designing, copy editing and producing two publications under his role of Managing Editor with his fellow colleagues.

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Kirk Finkel

Research Assistant, Urban Design Lab

Kirk Finkel is an urban mapper, designer, and artist. He earned a master's degree in architecture and urban design from Columbia University in 2014 and a bachelor's degree in architecture from Cornell University. Most recently, he worked for Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates Inc. in Philadelphia. Kirk is a co-founder of the design collective Hither Yon, represented by Carlotta Testori Studio in Milan, Italy. His work is focused on environmentally collaborative design as it applies within a wide scope of master-planning to experiments of art and representation.

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Sagi Golan

Research Assistant, Urban Design Lab

Sagi Golan is an Architect and Urban Designer. Sagi holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Tel-Aviv University of which he graduated with honors and a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University. He has participated in collaborative workshops in the field of architecture and urban design in Tokyo, Berlin and Jerusalem. Working for Ranni Ziss Architects Ltd., Sagi gained experience designing large-scale housing complex and Hotels in Israel.  At Columbia, Sagi gained teaching and researching experience working as a Teaching Assistant for the Urban Design studio. He recently held a research position at the Urban Design Lab and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

B.Arch. Tel-Aviv University, 2011(Magna Cum Laude); MSc Architecture and Urban Design. GSAPP, Columbia University, 2013.

 

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Katia Perini

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Urban Design Lab

Katia Perini is an architect and Postdoctoral researcher. She has been selected as a Fulbright grantee, under the Fulbright-Schuman Program, with a research project regarding the sustainability of urban areas with New York City as case study. Katia joined the Urban Design Lab to conduct this research as visiting Scholar at Columbia University. Katia completed her PhD in Architecture at the Università degli Studi di Genova (Italy) focusing on environmental sustainability and on the integration of innovative systems and technologies in architecture. In particular, her doctoral research – entitled “The integration of vegetation in architecture. Innovative methods and tools” – regarded the evaluation of architectural and functional aspects of the integration of vegetation in built spaces as means to restore the environmental quality of urban areas. Recently, Katia has been invited as a guest researcher at the Delft University of Technology.

M.Sc. University of Genova, 2008; Ph.D. University of Genova, 2012.

 

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Houman Saberi

Spatial Analyst, Urban Design Lab

Houman Saberi is a graduate student in urban planning at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. He is currently working with the Urban Design Lab as a GIS and data visualization intern on a baseline assessment of the urban agricultural capacity in the northeast United States.

Prior to this, he served as a community development agent in the United States Peace Corps in Morocco where he engaged in rural health education and infrastructure projects. He has also worked in
international development, serving as a project manager in Washington D.C. and as an operations manager on USAID-funded projects in Egypt and Indonesia.

B.A. University of Chicago, 2005; M.S. Columbia University, 2015 (expected). 

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Leigh Whittinghill

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Urban Design Lab

Leigh is an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow working with the Urban Design Lab and Columbia Green Roof Consortium on green roof research.  She is currently working on several projects: the stormwater monitoring of a rooftop farm, a survey to develop a characterization of green roof farms and their production practices, and a GIS analysis of the rooftops of New York City to determine their potential for rooftop agriculture.  Leigh’s primary research interest is the use of green roof technology for vegetable production, including the impacts on the benefits of green roofs and the development of best management practices.  While at Michigan State University, she performed research on vegetable production in extensive green roof systems, the salt tolerance of common green roof plants, and carbon sequestration on ornamental landscapes and green roofs. 

 

B.A. Biology, Middlebury College 2006; PhD Horticulture with a specialization in Environmental Science and Policy, Michigan State University 2012.

 

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