Glynwood Center new report: The State of Agriculture in the Hudson Valley Region
The UDL mapped and analyzed land-use and agricultural parcel distribution in the Hudson Valley Region for a report released recently by the Glynwood Center, a longtime partner of the Urban Design Lab. This work is part of the UDL focus on agriculture and food systems in the New York City Region and their relationship to urbanization, environmental protection and restoration. Read the report The State of Agriculture in the Hudson Valley Region
Urban Design Lab abroad. January has been a month of intense traveling for the Urban Design Lab. Director Richard Plunz and Assistant Director Michael Conard gave a series of high profile presentations on the work of the Urban Design Lab in China. In Beijing they offered an exemplar of their activity to a venture capital group undertaking large urban projects. A second presentation followed to the Gulin County government officials in Szechuan Province. On January 20-21 Plunz and Conard presented UDL work in Kharkiv, Ukraine, at the conference "The Place of Identity and the Identity of Place". Richard Plunz directs the post-professional Urban Design Program at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, which is conducting advanced studio workshops in both Gulin and Kharkiv this Spring Semester.
Haiti Housing Collaborative Design. January 12 marked the first anniversary of the Haitian earthquake that claimed 250,000 victims and stunned the world. With the goal to help the rebuilding effort , Richard Gonzalez recently participated as a juror in an international housing competition organized by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) Global Dialogues Committee’s Haitian Housing Collaborative. Four design schemes were selected for construction in the region of Port-au-Prince. Gonzalez presented the final selection at the exhibition and fundraiser event at the Center for Architecture in New York City. One hundred percent of the money raised and future contributions will be utilized for the redevelopment efforts.
FoodWorks: A Vision to Improve NYC's Food System. On Monday, November 22, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn released FoodWorks, a comprehensive report outlining policy recommendations for New York City's food system. UDL Assistant Director Michael Conard, who sits on the City Council's Food Policy Advisory Board, and UDL Project Manager Kubi Ackerman, were significantly involved in shaping th report which reflects many of the UDL initiatives around food systems and urbanization. Included is the Urban Design Lab's mapping of the New York City regional foodshed. The UDL is encouraged by the public interest generated with the release of this report and will continue to develop research and policy recommendations in this expanding field.
The New York City Regional Foodshed. The Urban Design Lab, in partnership with the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture , is receiving support from the Rockfeller Brother Fund to further research on the New York City Regional Foodshed Project. The study will evaluate the potential capacity of agricultural production and distribution infrastructure in the New York City region toward the development of strategies to enhance a healthy and sustainable food system.
Food and Climate Change Summit. The panel "The Foodshed: Promoting Sustainable Local Agriculture," at the Food and Climate Change Summit at New York University on December 12th saw a crowded gathering listening at the description of a potential New York City’s Foodshed. Michael Conard led the panel in partnership with the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. The summit, organized by Just Food in collaboration with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and NYU, was organized to coincide with the Copenhagen talks on climate change. The fully booked event, registering a record presence of over 1000 participants, is an indicator of the strong public interest in food, climate and sustainability in the city of New York.
Ultra-Ex: Redesigning Urban green. Engineering and Architecture students presented the first results of a highly integrated effort between Engineering, Architecture, and many different partners inside and outside the University. The studio was taught by Professors Patricia Culligan and Richard Plunz, of the SEAS and GSAPP respectively, with the collaboration of Nilda Mesa, Assistant VP of Columbia University Office of Environmental Sustainability.The results showcased building design strategies that address challenges including energy efficiency, air quality, and waste processing. The public in attendance defined the projects “innovative and inspiring” and underlined the importance of this well-researched interdisciplinary approach as it contributes much to the present-day struggle to balance, among other things, great design with innovative engineering.
Sustainable Urban Agriculture. Design Research Coordinator Kubi Ackerman presented UDL work on urban agriculture and food systems at the NYSERDA 9th Annual Innovations in Agriculture Conference in Albany on November 17th. The presentation was titled “Sustainable Urban Agriculture: Confirming viable scenarios for production,” and was part of a panel on controlled-environment and urban agriculture meant to highlight NYSERDA’s support of this rapidly changing field. The UDL looks forward to contributing to the research on the future role of food production and food infrastructure in and around cities, which is increasingly recognized as critical to issues of urban sustainability and public health. For more information click here.
Aspen Design Summit. Assistant Director Michael Conard spoke at the Aspen Design Summit, a participatory event where 70 leaders from the design field, nongovernmental organizations, business, social institutions and foundations gathered to share innovative solutions for large-scale national and international problems. Mr. Conard provided the design-based research perspective to the “Sustainable Food and Childhood Obesity” team discussion, drawing upon the research of the Urban Design Lab over the past two years in childhood obesity and food-centric solutions. For more information please see the report Sustainable Food and Childhood Obesity.
Rights of Way. Project Manager Richard Gonzalez participated in a conference sponsored the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at Barnard College on urbanism in relation to public space in New York City titled “Rights of Way” The panel presentation was followed by a Q&A between architects, planners and policy makers involved in city and community development, and a young interested audience. Mr.Gonzalez presented relevant UDL projects within the context of Seoul, South Korea/Bangkok, Thailand and Harlem, New York City. For more information click here.
Good Food Nation. MIT News featured the UDL's National Integrated Foodshed project in the article "Good Food Nation." This research is in partnership with MIT's Collaborative Initiatives Program.
National Collaborations. The Urban Design Lab is participating in a series of ongoing national initiatives with the Action Center to End World Hunger, Earth Pledge Foundation, Fast Forward Fund, and Health Corps, USA, geared to enhance awareness of students, children and the general public on the themes of sustainability, climate change, health, food and fair trade.
Ultra-X. Through the award of an Ultra-X grant from the National Science Foundation and US Dept. Of Agriculture Forest Service, the UDL is collaborating with Columbia University colleagues and many community partners on a project aimed at monitoring the neighborhood scale intersections between residents, the improved urban "green," green roof performance, and the impact of improved urban natural ecosystems. Columbia University collaborators include colleagues in the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED), LDEO Dept of Earth and Environmental Science (DEES), the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), the Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR), the Department of Ecology Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B).
CDC National Environmental Public Health Conference. Michael Conard, assistant director of the UDL, presented “Redesigning the Food System for Public Health and Sustainability” at the Center for Disease Control’s National Environmental Public Health Conference. This event, which took place October 26-28 in Atlanta, was organized to encourage innovative strategies for addressing existing and emerging environmental health issues and to provide a forum for sharing research and information. The presentation shared the UDL’s recommendations to effect change in national health and the environment though the creation of a national integrated system of regional Foodsheds.
Urban Futures. Richard Plunz, director of the UDL, participated in a discussion on possible urban futures with David Burney, Commissioner, NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) at “How Do We Design Successful Cities? Challenges and Solutions.” The event was sponsored by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY). The discussion compared the challenges currently facing cities in China with those of New York. Proceedings from the event, can be found here.
Fit-Town Initiative. Since July, Michael Conard and Kubi Ackerman have been engaged in designing a community health awareness curriculum for the Fit-Town initiative of the Health Corps, USA. The curriculum calls for photo documentation and neighborhood mapping, and will be distributed in over 50 high schools across the country.
Seoul Design Olympiad. The Urban Design Lab was invited to participate in the Seoul Design Olympiad in South Korea. This competition calls for designers from all over the world to explore projects related to sustainability in the city of Seoul. The exhibit content focuses on the theme Architecture: A User Manual. The UDL is displaying various projects related to four research themes: Food and the Urban Environment, Climate and Society, Green and Sustainable Infrastructure, and Education. Richard Gonzalez supervised the design of the UDL installation. The Olympiad is open to the public until October 29.
T-Diversities. Maria Paola Sutto joined the T-Diversities Series in New York City, which explored issues related to urban sustainability, food and fair trade in celebration of the 2009 World Food Day. The T-Diversities series highlights concerns related to climate change, food and urban agriculture, architecture and design. Topics are explored through interactions between experts and thinkers, visual and performing artists, social activists and the general public.
Park(ing) Day. Richard Gonzalez participated in New York City’s Park(ing) Day with an installation in Washington Heights, an event that involved participants in 100 cities around the world. Richard Gonzalez teamed up with fruit and vegetable vendors to create mini urban farm installations along metered parking spaces, selling fruits and vegetables along with an educational component. The annual international event invites participants to turn parking spots into “human-friendly places” for a day, with the goal of inspiring alternate visions of urban living and how cities divide common assets.
Transcending The Discipline. Richard Plunz, director of the Urban Design Lab, recently spoke at Transcending The Discipline, the 5th International Urbanism and Urbanization PhD Seminar, held at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Plunz was involved in discussions on highly innovative topics related to urban development on all five continents. The conference was organized by the University's Urbanism and Architecture Research Unit.
Hancock and the Marcellus Shale: Gas Extraction along the Upper Delaware. The UDL announces its publication of Hancock and the Marcellus Shale: Visioning the Impacts of Natural Gas Extraction Along the Upper Delaware, fourth in a series of documents produced in conjunction with graduate level research seminars in the Urban Design program at the GSAPP. This research was made possible through sponsorship by the Open Space Institute, the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition and Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Redesigning "Urban Green": Urban Ecology Studio. Engineering and Architecture students gathered for their first studio class, eager to meet the challenge of Nilda Mesa, Assistant Vice-President of Columbia University's Office of Environmental Stewardship, to start at home: how to make Columbia University produce 50% less waste, use 50% less energy, and consume 50% less water.
The pioneering studio is a highly integrated effort between the Urban Design Lab at the Earth Institute, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the Center for Climate Systems Research, the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, and a long list of significant community partners – all challenging each other with the goal of improving eco-system functionality in urban environments.
Dongtan-2: A Premise for Urban Living. Richard Plunz and Richard Gonzalez of the UDL presented the preliminary research on the Dongtan 2 New Town Development Strategy to the Korean Planners Association and other advocacy groups in Seoul, South Korea. The project examines the second phase of the Dongtan master plan extension, the new town development projected to provide 113,000 housing units for a projected population of 282,000 habitants.
The Streetscape of 145th Street. Across the United States, several urban and suburban areas show high carbon emissions attributed to transportation and residential uses. Even if New York City's density and transit system keep the city per capita emissions at low levels, carbon emissions sources remain a topic of concern. 145th Street is no exemption: a surface temperature map developed from the NASA-GISS research group led by Stuart Gaffin shows that there are several pockets of higher temperatures within the NYC area. The Urban Design Lab preparatory study was presented to the community in an attempt to divulge useful information and educate the residents about the challenges and opportunities that this area has to offer.
Upper Delaware: Gas Drilling Impact Study. The Urban Design Lab is assisting in organizing and facilitating a research seminar with students from the Urban Design program and Environmental Law Clinic at Columbia University. Students will research and analyze the environmental constituents associated with the practice of gas drilling. This research initiative is in collaboration with the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition and the Open Space Institute.
The first meeting of the research team with local environmental organizations took place on Saturday January 31 at Lackawaxen, Pa. For more details click here
Urban Securities and Climate Change. Urban Climate Change Crossroads, edited by Richard Plunz and Maria Paola Sutto, has just been published. The book documents an international conference of the same name held in Rome in February 2008, sponsored by the UDL, the Adriano Olivetti Foundation in Rome, and the Rome Chamber of Commerce. Represented is a broad array of fields that must be called upon to address urban climate issues: from ecological science to political science; economics to philosophy to architecture; public health to public art. To order a copy click here
December 9, 2008.
Go Green East Harlem Studio: Food Security and Urban Agriculture. The final review of the GoGreen Studio course took place yesterday at the Columbia University campus. This senior design studio was coordinated with the Earth Institute’s Urban Design Lab and conducted by students and faculty from Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) in collaboration with the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s Office (MBPO) and the Go Green East Harlem Initiative. Twenty students from the GSAPP and SEAS presented their work to representatives from academia, local communities and government, triggering an interesting discussion about the role of design, and the different options that provides, in moving urban neighborhoods and cities toward a sustainable and healthy future.
The studio focus area was the neighborhood of East Harlem with the Go Green agenda as an over-arching theme. Architecture students identified the urban issues that they wanted to tackle and then developed specific strategies and design proposals that incorporated innovative and green infrastructure technology that their engineering partners explored. Among the proposals the “Ur_farm3” project questioned the current utopian vertical farming ideas and suggested a modular vertical/horizontal urban farming system that gives a central role to the communities. The “Urban Tech Forestry” project proposed an artificial form of urban forestry that seeks to enhance and compliment the capability and performance of existing natural urban trees.
Although the studio course has just finished, the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s Office and the EI-UDL will now take a lead role in continuing discussions about how these ideas can work as an educational tool for Harlem communities and the City, and also as a framework for future strategies to integrate themes of sustainable healthy neighborhoods into urban development.
Faculty: Richard Plunz, Patricia Culligan, Dimitrios Vlachopoulos, Phillip Simmons, Melissa Keeley
Students: Jorge Barragan, Hernan Betanzos, Barrett Brown, Brett Dorfman, Saskia Nagel, Ayala Rosen, Andres Serpa, Patrick Alexander, James Banner, Jason Edwards, Amy Gao, Aja Hazelhoff, Prospero Herrera, Ivan Hibarger, Nicole Lee, Allison Magnano, Ramya Pratiwadi, Lauren Zielinski
December 3, 2008.
The Holiday Season. The beginning of the holiday season always brings to mind family, good food, and all the other things we have to give thanks for. Yet this year's rising food prices have served as a reminder that we should not take good food for granted, as many families must struggle to purchase healthy food. The conference "The Politics of Food" clearly responded to a city-wide demand for action on food policy, as more than 900 people registered to attend. The successful event brought together community organizations, green growers, urban farmers, elected officials, academics, and others concerned about food justice to discuss New York City's food system and how we might make it fairer, healthier, and stronger. During this holiday season, please consider donating to City Harvest or another organization that helps support struggling families.
Conference co-sponsor: Office of Manhattan Borough President, Urban Design Lab at The Earth Institute, School of International and Public Affairs, Office of Environmental Stewardship.
Speakers: President of Columbia University Lee C. Bollinger, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York City Mayor Bloomberg, President of the UN General Assembly Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, Director of the Center for Social Inclusion Maya Wiley
For a video click here