Cornell team wins APA Student Design Competition with “Fruit Pad”

Fruit Pad affordable housing proposal by Kevin Kim (M.L.A./M.R.P.), Lera Covington (M.P.S./M.R.P.), Jeanette Petti (M.L.A./M.R.P.), and Dylan Stevenson

A Cornell team took home the gold in the student design competition at the American Planning Association’s (APA) 2019 National Conference in San Francisco. Students Kevin Kim (M.L.A./M.R.P.), Lera Covington (M.P.S./M.R.P.), Jeanette Petti (M.L.A./M.R.P.), and Dylan Stevenson (Ph.D. C.R.P.) wowed the jury with Fruit Pad, an affordable housing marketing and educational campaign that takes a “fresh look” at Fruitvale, a neighborhood in Oakland, CA. The East Bay city has sky-high housing prices amidst rapid gentrification thanks to a Bay Area–wide housing crunch fueled by an influx of residents and tech money.

Take a look at the introduction to Fruit Pad below, and check out the rest of the project here.

Oakland has an affordable housing crisis. It’s the third most expensive metro area in the country for renters, and it’s gotten increasingly difficult for Oakland residents to obtain affordable housing.

Though this problem persists, the City of Oakland has been diligent in its efforts to address the housing crisis. It’s implemented a variety of affordable housing programs and policies throughout the years and, with the release of the Mayor’s Housing Action Plan: A Roadmap to Equity and the City’s Housing Element
Plan, it’s working on implementing even more.

With strong housing policies already in place and more in the works, we didn’t want to rehash these strategies or propose what the City has already proposed, so we decided to take a different approach. We think that Oakland has all the necessary policies in place to successfully address its affordable housing crisis, so we’re going to use what the City already has – but package them a little bit differently.

That’s why we’re recommending Fruit Pad – a fresh and revamped educational and marketing program for Oakland’s affordable housing policies, specifically tailored to the Fruitvale neighborhood. Fruit Pad uses a variety of strategies – from turning the neighborhood into a living lab with affordable housing “experiments” to empowering local leaders to open their homes to residents looking for advice – all in an effort to make the City’s existing affordable housing policies and resources more transparent and more approachable.

Professor Iwan J. Azis speaks on the impact of Trump’s “America first” policies

An electronics factory in Shenzhen, China. (glue works/Wikimedia Commons)

An electronics factory in Shenzhen, China. (glue works/Wikimedia Commons)

Professor Iwan J. Azis is very interested in how President Donald Trump’s trade policy impacts the American Midwest. Since the lead-up to the 2016 election, Trump has bombarded Americans (and people all over the world, really) with his “America first” initiative, an isolationist approach to global trade that uses massive incentives to entice overseas manufacturers to set up shop in the United States. One of the most visible outcomes of America first is a planned plant for Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. Subsidized by billions in tax incentives, the facility was supposed to make LCD screens from start to finish, but right now, the screens have to be shipped to a factory in Mexico to be finished off. A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek called Wisconsin’s agreement with Foxconn “disastrous.”

To learn more about America first on-the-ground, Azis, who is a CRP Visiting Lecturer and an AEM Adjunct Professor, visited Mount Pleasant over February break (Full disclosure: I’m in Intro to Methods of Planning Analysis, the class Prof. Azis teaches in CRP, and he seemed very enthusiastic about this trip). After returning to Ithaca, Prof. Azis gave an interview on U.S. trade policy to Development + Cooperation (D+C), a German publication that focuses on global development.

In that conversation, Azis gives readers his take on the U.S.’ tariff war with China, Trump’s issues with the World Trade Organization, and more. A link to the interview in English and in German can be found here and here.

Iwan J. Azis is a visiting professor in CRP and an adjunct professor at Dyson Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. He is also professor at the University of Indonesia and a senior adviser to the country’s FDIC. He has taught at Cornell since 1994 and was the Director of Graduate Studies of the Regional Science program in the Department of City & Regional Planning until 2009, when he was appointed as the Director General in charge of regional cooperation at the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Design Connect proposal for Binghamton park gets warm reception from city officials

The Loop Trail Plan (Image via Carolyn Gimbal and WBNG)

The Loop Trail Plan. (Image via Carolyn Gimbal and WBNG)

This week students in Cornell CRP’s Design Connect workshop presented their scheme for a Binghamton park to the city’s Parks Committee to favorable reviews. The group, led by Carolyn Gimbal (H.P.P ’19), proposed a looping trail to connect different programs in Ross Park, which is home to Binghamton’s zoo and children’s science museum.

The proposal is a key part of Design Connect, a class open to graduate and undergraduate students from AAP, as well as the university at large. The course pairs student design teams with local  clients to improve public spaces the clients steward or manage.

“It can be a really affordable way for cities and nonprofits to develop plans for things like parks,” Gimbal told WBNG, which first reported the story.

For Ross Park, students conducted a site analysis and outreached park users to determine what would make the park more user-friendly. Park-goers told the group that the park’s roadways were confusing to navigate, and that park paths posed dangers to pedestrians.

Proposal for downtown Binghamton viewshed. (Image via Carolyn Gimbal and WBNG)

Viewshed today. (Image via Carolyn Gimbal and WBNG)

To address these concerns, the team thought it would be a good idea to revamp trails through the park’s woodlands, and connect the main entrance with the zoo’s carousel. They also presented plans to add public art and new plantings, enhance traffic control via bollards near the main entrance, and slice a view of downtown through the trees.

Proposal for downtown Binghamton viewshed. (Image via Carolyn Gimbal and WBNG)

Proposal for downtown Binghamton viewshed. (Image via Carolyn Gimbal and WBNG)

The Parks Committee will forward the project to the whole city council once funds are secured, perhaps this spring.

Funding for the project could come from state grants and historic preservation funds. Gimbal stated that the total estimated cost of the improvements comes out to about $677,000.

MRP grad Ben Coleman wins APA Alaska emerging planner of the year award

MRP grad Ben Coleman wins APA Alaska emerging planner of the year award

The APA Alaska chapter has honored Ben Coleman (M.R.P. ’17) with its emerging planner award.

Coleman wears many hats in role as a transit planner in the Mat-Su Borough, which is the fastest-growing region in the state. Among his many projects, he’s worked on MSB’s $43 million road bond, prepared an economic development proposal for West Meadow Lakes and Houston, Alaska, and crafted a GIS map of the borough’s Long-Range Transportation Plan. He is also the representative for his region in APA Alaska.


First colloquium of 2019 scheduled for this Friday, February 8

First colloquium of 2019 scheduled for this Friday, February 8

The first colloquium lecture of 2019 is scheduled for this Friday, February 8. Willow Lung-Amam, assistant professor in the urban studies and planning program at the University of Maryland, College Park, will speak on Asian-American experiences in the suburbs, a topic she explored in her most recent book. Lung-Amam’s talk starts at 12:20 p.m. in the Milstein auditorium.

More information on Lung-Amam’s work and her talk can be found on the AAP website.

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