Urban Planning Program

Lance Freeman, director

The Urban Planning program was met with exciting opportunities this year. The first-year class was a diverse group, with an exceptionally large number of Chinese students. The program therefore has expanded to include faculty members and courses addressing the issues of Chinese urbanization. Fifty-three graduates entered the planning profession this May after producing several high quality theses.
In the fall, a special advanced multidisciplinary studio addressed plans for post-earthquake reconstruction in Talca, Chile as well as another advanced studio focusing on connecting the waterfront in Brooklyn with Pedestrian pathways. In the spring, two international studios were offered – one in Bangalore, India and one in Medellin, Colombia – as well as a studio in Orlando, Florida and three New York-based studios. The studio charged to create a profitable design for Piers 76 and 84 in Hudson River Park was chosen to represent Columbia at the annual Metro APA student presentations.
New classes that were offered this year included Disasters, Recovery, and Resilience that was taught by Ethel Sheffer in the fall semester, which was timely due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The course Civic Hacking taught by Georgia Bullen was also introduced in the fall addressing how people interact with their surrounding environments through the use of technology. In the spring semester, Ethel Sheffer also introduced a new course entitled Public Space in the Private Realm which she co-taught with Doug Woodward.

Each year, the Urban Planning program offers opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. This year’s Lectures in Planning Series (LiPS) included a kick-off lecture from Adolfo Carrion, the former White House Director of the Office of Urban Affairs and former 12th Borough President of the Bronx. Other speakers like Mitchell Silver, APA President and Planning Director of Raleigh, NC and Robert Buckley, formerly of the World Bank, rounded up the line-up of innovative professionals.
The program initiated new career development offerings, including an inaugural Speed Networking event bringing together current students with alumni to discuss their career paths. Resume reviews and a cover letter writing workshop also helped students prepare for the internship and job application process.

The Planning Student Organization held several events this year, including participating in the annual Park(ing) Day, where taking over a parking space on Broadway allowed students and pedestrians to rethink the use of public space. Students also received behind the scenes tour of the underground construction of the 7th avenue subway extension with Skanska and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with Stephen Facey, the cathedral’s historic preservation consultant. About forty students traveled to Chicago this April for the annual American Planning Association Conference. The students joined with GSAPP alumni for a reception and also had the opportunity to present some of their own studio work.