AAP All Alumni Party

AAP Dean Kent Kleinman discussing the Cornell in Rome Program.

On October 24th, AAP held its annual All Alumni Party in New York City. AAP NYC hosted the party in its gallery at 26 Broadway. From there, you can literally watch the sunset glimmer over the Hudson river just right behind the Statue of Liberty. The event also celebrated the 30 year anniversary of AAP’s Cornell in Rome Program.

Sophia Robison (MRP ’17) and Kelsey Padgham (MRP ’17) in the gallery space at AAP studio.

During the event, Dean Kent Kleinman shared his remarks on the Cornell in Rome and Cornell AAP NYC NYC Programs, as did Peter Eisenman (B.Arch ’55), Dan Kaplan (B.Arch. ’84), and Pam Mikus (M.R.P. ’94). This party provided a platform for  AAP students and alumni to convene, network and become more familiar with one other. Between hors d’oeuvres and an open bar (!), alumni shared their post-Cornell experiences with the students.

AAP NYC Director Robert Balder
AAP NYC Executive Director Robert Balder (U.R.S. ’89, M.R.P. ’90)

Plumb Beach Cleanup with NYC H2O

On Saturday, September 24th a group of students teamed up with one of the workshop clients, NYC H2O, to participate in a large-scale trash cleanup of Plumb Beach in New York City’s Jamaica Bay. NYC H2O, an ecology-focused education non-profit, is one of this semester’s workshop clients, with whom four students, Sophia Robsion, Qiuwei Liu, Xiaoying Li, and Yishan Zhang, are working. Their project is focused around creating an Environmental and Infrastructural Assessment of Plumb Beach and then to turn some of the findings from that study into programmable educational activities that NYC H2O can use to teach middle and high schoolers about the ecology of the site while also actively improving the resiliency, sustainability, and friendliness of the site.

The beach cleanup began with a bus pickup near 14th Street that took a packed school bus of students, corporate employees and community members out to the Plumb Beach site. Located over forty-five minutes from Manhattan, the beach entrance is just off the Rockaways Highway in south Brooklyn, east of Gravesend and Sheepshead Bay. Over 150 people showed up for the cleanup, which included a number of corporate employees participating in philanthropy days, students from NYU and Baruch College among others, young people who wanted to get involved with a cool nonprofit, and community members and families who have long been engaged with NYC H2O for their kid-friendly and educational programs.

Participants were greeted by Matt Melina of NYC H2O and a park ranger from the National Park Service who informed them that they should each take gloves, a heavy-duty trash bag, a trash picker-upper claw, and a worksheet. The worksheet was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and had spaces to record each piece of trash type collected. At the end of the day, these workshops would be incorporated into NOAA’s trash database, providing information about pollution around the world.

The cleanup itself lasted from 10am to 12am, with each participant collected at least one full bag of trash. A garbage truck was positioned in the parking lot to compress the huge amount of stuffs removed by the volunteers. In all, the group removed 160 bags of trash, one ton of large timbers, a stray dock and a hot water heater from the beach.

Two Cornell students, Sophia Robison (MRP, 2017) and Xiaoying Li (MLA, 2018) show off their trash pile at the end of the NYC H2O Plumb Beach Cleanup Day.
Two Cornell students, Sophia Robison (MRP, 2017, right) and Xiaoying Li (MLA, 2018) show off their trash pile at the end of the NYC H2O Plumb Beach Cleanup Day.


After the cleanup, there was a big empanada lunch followed by a brief talk with NYC District Councilman Alan Maisel and a marine ecology lesson from Mickey Cohen. While the marine ecology lesson was geared at the kids in attendance – letting them see how a net can catch fish even in the surf and passing around jars of cool fish – it was also great fun for the adults to watch and learn from. To learn more about NYC H2O and to explore pictures from the cleanup, please visit NYC H2O’s website: http://www.nych2o.org/2016.html.

Overall, this was an amazing experience and Cornell looks forward to being involved in the next cleanup hosted by NYC H2O!

Film Screening of 70 Acres in Chicago

In conjunction with the City and Regional Planning Program and the Baker School of Real Estate, AAP’s NYC classroom presented the film 70 Acres in Chicago to the public on the night of Friday, October 14. The showing was a definite success with more than fifty people in attendance, including students from NYC and Ithaca, professors, former residents of the housing project addressed in the film, prospective students, and members of the NYC community among others.

The film highlighted the difficulties of public housing programs, their upkeep, and their demise in a harrowing film recounting the stories of three people whose lives were changed when then-mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley decided to begin demolition of the 70 acres Cabrini-Green housing project with the goal of replacing it with newer, better, best practice mixed-income housing. As described by its filmmaker:

70 Acres in Chicago is a critically acclaimed documentary film that chronicles the redevelopment of Cabrini-Green — a public housing development on the Near North Side of Chicago — into a market-rate, mixed-income housing development through the federal HOPE VI grant program. The film follows the redevelopment story as families struggle with the impact of social policy on their community and personal lives. By putting faces to the story of the birth of a mixed-income community and how people negotiate through complicated situations, the film provides a lens for analyzing the larger picture of economic and racial injustice.”

For students, the filming struck a chord, as in Cornell’s Master of Regional Planning program social injustice is seen as a difficult but exceedingly important issue for planners to address.

Raymond McDonald, Ronit Bezalel, Deidre Brewster, and Mark Pratt (left to right).
Raymond McDonald, Ronit Bezalel, Deidre Brewster, and Mark Pratt (left to right).

After the screening there was a panel discussion with filmmaker Ronit Bezalel and the three former Cabrini-Green residents upon which the film is centered – Mark Pratt, Raymond McDonald, and Deidre Brewster. Moderated by Assistant Professor Suzanne Lanyi Charles, the panel provided an opportunity to ask about what went wrong in the planning process and what can be done in the future to prevent the injustices committed against the residents of Cabrini-Green from occurring again. The panel was followed by a reception during which attendees and panel members had the opportunity to have discussions more intimately.

#TCNYC16 “Unconference”

TransportationCamp Opening session

On Saturday, September 24th 2016 we attended Transportation Camp NYC, at CUNY. This was a so-called “unconference” about almost all things transportation, well mostly, urban. After an interesting though lengthy introduction of each participant where each listed 3 transportation-related words to describe themselves, attendees planned out sessions on an A4 sized colorful page which were then organized into a colorful laundry board. Yes, there was no predefined schedule! Attendees were also encouraged to team up to enhance these sessions as well as “vote with their feet” and leave as they wish if a session is boring.

On-the-spot sessions
On-the-spot sessions

The full schedule of the day and links to all the notes is here.

Networking opportunities in TCNYC16
Networking opportunities in TCNYC16

It’s always great, if a little overwhelming, to network with so many people in transportation. Being involved in multitude of these sessions was exhausting but very enlightening. One of the best aspects of Transportation Camp is the local vibe and the low-barrier to entry. Free admission for students and the fact that it was held over a weekend, allowed enthusiasts, activists, and government employees to rub shoulders with academics and transportation professionals.

"MTA vs Global Subway Standards" Session in the making
“MTA vs Global Subway Standards” Session in the making

*All photos are taken from Flickr.*

Governors Island Walking Tour

On September 3rd, 2016, we went on a walking trip to Governors Island. Governors Island is one of the key sites for the AAP NYC City and Regional Planning workshop course (CRP 5172). It is a 172-acre island, a 10-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City. Governors Island National Monument manages 22 acres, containing Fort Jay and Castle Williams. The City of New York through the Trust for Governors Island manages the rest of the 150 acres. Our workshop team will be assessing the near term application of Connected and/or Automated Vehicles in this area with NYCEDC’s Ports and Transportation Division and the Trust for Governors Island as their clients.

Bob Balder talking to students about the history of Governor’s Island
Bob Balder talking to students about the history of Governor’s Island

We boarded a ferry from Battery Maritime Building to reach the Island. We first visited the exhibition at Soissons Landing where our very own director,  Bob Balder introduced us to the history and present developments in the Island. Then we took a walk to Nolan Park where we witnessed the 7th Annual Unicycle Festival. There were kids and adults riding unicycles everywhere. It was a fun scene to watch!

Going through the exquisite Colonel’s row housed with old abandoned U.S. Coast Guard housing, we moved towards the Hammock grove and the Hills. Hammock grove is a beautiful parkland with seating places for the visitors and bike paths. The Hills are man-made structures created out of recycled materials and provide unique panoramic views of the statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline.

Yichen Jia (B.Arch 2018) and Hanxi Wang (B.Arch 2018) on Governor’s Island
Yichen Jia (B.Arch 2018) and Hanxi Wang (B.Arch 2018) at Nolan Park

The Governor’s Island art fair takes place annually on every weekends in September and we were lucky enough to witness that. It was originally located in the buildings of colonial row but now has extended to Fort Jay and Castle Williams as artist venues. However, the southwestern part of the island is still in the phase of redevelopment.

With this very interesting field trip, we hope our workshop team comes up with pretty good proposals for the island.

Students on The Hills with Bob Balder
Students on The Hills with Bob Balder

Photos by Stephanie Cheung.