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Ben Austen to discuss the rise and fall of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green on September 14


Next Friday, journalist Ben Austen is coming to Cornell to discuss the rise and fall of Cabrini-Green, the Chicago public housing project that was razed in 2011. Often portrayed in the media as a crucible of vice and violence, Austen’s recent book on the development, High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing, explores Cabrini-Green’s origins and decline through the stories of its residents.

An abstract of the talk is reprinted below:

The rise and fall of high-rise public housing is the story of America’s ever-changing inner cities — and the story of the country’s always uneasy relationship to poverty and race. Cabrini-Green, located just blocks from Chicago’s ritzy Gold Coast, was the most “infamous” of these housing projects. Depicted constantly in the news, in TV shows, in horror films, Cabrini-Green became synonymous with crime, squalor, and government failure. For the thousands of people who lived there, it was also a much-needed home. What was myth and what was reality there? What went wrong in our nation’s effort to provide affordable housing to the poor? What can we do now?

Austen will deliver his talk, officially the Russell Van Nest Black Lecture. on September 14 at 12:20 p.m. in the Milstein Hall auditorium. More information on this and other Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) lectures can be found here.

Michael Manville to speak on why Angelenos voted for public transit they don’t use

Los Angeles (Photo: Luke Jones/Flickr)

This Thursday, transit expert Michael Manville is coming to Cornell to explain why taxpayers vote to fund public transit but then don’t use it. Manville, associate professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, uses a recent L.A. transit ballot measure to examine why, unless policies make it harder to drive, residents will choose their cars over buses and trains. The talk , “Measure M and the (Potential) Transformation of Mobility in Los Angeles,” will begin at 4:30 p.m. on September 6 in Room 115, W. Sibley Hall.

Here’s a preview of the conversation:

In the last ten years hundreds of local governments across the U.S. have used direct democracy to increase funding for public transportation. Transit ridership, however, continues to fall, even in places where voters have explicitly approved new taxes to fund it. Why do voters support transit taxes if they do not want to ride transit? This paper uses evidence from Measure M in Los Angeles — a large transportation ballot measure approved in 2016 — to examine this question. Using both original survey data and archival qualitative data provided by L.A. Metro, Manville suggest that voters supported Measure M because they believed public transportation would benefit them in their role as drivers by reducing traffic congestion. Voters believed this, moreover, because transit advocates saw a congestion-reduction message as most likely to be successful at the ballot box. Transit, however, is most successful in places where driving is harder, not easier, so a vote for transit based on the idea that it will make driving easier suggests opposition to many of the complementary policies — higher density, less parking, congestion charges — that actually make transit work. Survey data confirms that most L.A. residents do not support transit-complementary policies, and further suggests that many current L.A. transit riders would prefer to travel by car. Manville concludes that transit ballots in auto-oriented cities succeed in part because they suppress latent conflicts over space, but that transit itself will only succeed when those conflicts are settled in favor of nonauto modes.

More information on this and other Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) lectures can be found here.

LAND studio’s Greg Peckham speaks on Cleveland revitalization August 31

Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio (Photo: Sahar Coston-Hardy)

To kick off Labor Day weekend, LAND studio Executive Director Greg Peckham will discuss investment in urban design as a catalyst for revitalization in Cleveland, Ohio for the 2018 Glenn H. Beyer Memorial Lecture. The talk will begin at 12:20 p.m. on Friday, August 31 in the Milstein Hall auditorium.

LAND studio, a Cleveland-based nonprofit, revitalizes public space through design in collaboration with artists, planners, elected officials, and landscape designers, among others.

A summary of the lecture is reprinted below:

The transformation of Cleveland’s urban landscape has been powered by a unique, more than 30-year collaboration involving the city’s nonprofit, philanthropic, and public sector agencies. Early philanthropic investments in the design of strategic public space projects have raised the bar for civic design and elevated citizen participation in urban planning. Land Studio is Cleveland’s leading nonprofit dedicated to the planning, design, development, and activation of vibrant public spaces across Cleveland. Land plays a critical role as the hinge between world-class artists and designers, civic leaders, grassroots community groups, and elected officials. The organization’s work can be seen in the city’s highest-profile downtown spaces as well as its most struggling neighborhoods. This program will focus on how early investments in design have catalyzed more than $100 million in public spaces that are helping to revitalize all corners of the city.

More information on this and other Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) lectures can be found here.

Ziye Zhang to share research on housing “buy-sellers” August 30

Design Connect Team Transforms Historic Collegetown Site

The Andrew D. White Gate, commonly known as “Eddy Gate,” transformed this past weekend, parading with students and members of the Ithaca community. Eddy Gate became a vibrant public space, furnished with new seating and table arrangements and several lighting and art installations.

The project is one of the four Design Connect projects this semester, in collaboration with Cornell University’s Campus Planning Office, aiming to inspire and support the idea of improving the once prominent entry-way into Cornell’s campus. The office spent years thinking about what to do with the site, considering its prominent location between the campus, Collegetown neighborhood, and the Cascadilla Gorge all in close proximity. The Design Connect team moved forward with the idea of a “tactical urbanism” project that would temporarily transform the Eddy Gate location to a pop-up park.

Months of preparation involved an array of tasks for the Design Connect team. Group member Rhea Lopes (M.R.P. ’19) commented, “The work was surely very hands on and collaborative…involved coordinating and negotiating with different student groups and commercial stakeholders on and off campus, managing tight budgets, and spreading the word about the event through creative means. Eddy Gate is no longer a product from a team, but rather a network.”

Members of the Design Connect group spent nights prior to the opening weekend creating the materials for the project. On the night before the first day of Project Eddy Gate, group members arranged the set up accordingly to “zones”, indicated by the team’s master plan document. The modular component of the zones allowed the team to be flexible, in the events of an adjusted budget that would impact the resources that could be purchased. These zones comprised of a park, decorative entrance from College Town, floating lantern path, interactive art pieces, and a bazaar.

On its second day, Project Eddy Gate bustled with students and Ithaca residents. Community members were eager to see how transformative the site became through the intervention. “Throughout the event, people were asking us when we were going to do it again. Residents and students flocked to the space this weekend and we couldn’t have been happier with the turnout,” team member Elyse Belarge (M.R.P. ’19) stated.

Student organizations from Cornell sponsored the event through providing live performances at the pop-up stage. Music groups included performances by Cornell Samba, Jazz Voices, and Yamatai. Solo musicians also performed throughout the Saturday programming.

Photo: Facebook page for Project Eddy Gate

The main objective of the installation focused to collect data from the College Town community. “This project will allow for input from citizens as they traverse or use the space, with the intent of making data gathering a collaborative and democratic process, as well as a creative one,” the master plan document stated. In addition to surveys being handed out, installations also gathered visual feedback from people on what they envisioned Eddy Gate should be.

The Design Connect team hopes that data collected from the weekend will aid the Campus Planning Office to gather and garner support for more physical improvement and restore community investment in the Eddy Gate location.







Kudva Initiates Diversity-Focused Classes at Carl Becker House

Kudva facilitating a department group in the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion workshop in CRP. (Photo: William Shaffeld)

By AAP Communications

Named house professor and dean of the West Campus undergraduate residence Carl Becker House in fall 2017, Associate Professor Neema Kudva, CRP, was charged with hosting classes within the community that tackle issues of tolerance and diversity on campus, as part of a university initiative for undergraduates who live on West and North Campus.

Becker House is one of five undergraduate residences sharing the West Campus house system mission to form a community of students and faculty gathered in a spirit of inquiry and active citizenship.

During the fall semester, Kudva introduced three 1-credit Special Topics in Planning classes. Led by Kudva, Becker Café: Human Flourishing in an Age of Globalized Complexity, brought a range of speakers into the Becker community. Cornell University Becker in Service, or CUBS, connected student volunteers in organizations and communities throughout Tompkins County. Thriving Red: The Pursuit of Excellence and Well-Being, taught by Assistant Dean Amanda Carreiro, focused on positive psychology techniques for residents of West Campus. In addition to the special topics classes, Kudva’s seminar Current Issues and Debates on NGOs also met at Becker House in the fall.

Kudva sees her role at Becker House not only as a service to the university but also as an extension of her life’s work helping to shape creative living-learning communities — much like what she and her colleagues are building at the Nilgiris Field Learning Center in Kotagiri, India, where Kudva is the faculty lead for the collaborative research and learning partnership between Cornell and the Keystone Foundation. “I’m bringing what I have learned there and through my teaching [in CRP] and research on participation in community-based planning processes on campus to my work as house professor. It is hard work!” says Kudva.

Kudva also directs the International Studies in Planning program at Cornell and is affiliated with the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, the South Asia Studies Program at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and the visual studies program. She joined the CRP faculty in 2001 and has been a faculty fellow at Becker House since 2005.

Visiting Faculty Iwan Azis Discusses Trump’s Trade Policy


The ministers of 11 nations celebrate the conclusion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in Santiago de Chile in March. The participating countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. (Source: AP Photo, D+C website)

The May 2018 issue of the Development and Cooperation, D+C, International Journal features an excerpt by Visiting Faculty member Iwan Azis on President Trump’s trade policies. Azis comments on the inconsistency he sees on the Trump Administration’s behavior concerning policies including the involvement with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, stating, “Donald Trump’s trade policy looks incoherent…where this all will lead to is unclear, but one thing is certain: uncertainty has grown dramatically.

In an interview with the journal, D+C writer Hams Dembowski discusses the administration’s tactics and its influence on the World Trade Organization (WTO). Although the WTO is what Azis believes to be the most efficient medium for international trade agreements, he foresees countries such as China going into more bilateral trade agreements with the U.S., despite the complexities of the agreement. “It makes sense to have global rules [WTO] apply to all parties and facilitate trade. Bilateral deals make things more complicated,” he added.

Azis also commented on the broad issue of unpredictability in global trade. He credited the advancement of supply chains to which they exist today, in contrast to the former commodities and finished goods-based system from how international trade has operated in the past. Azis also questions President Trump’s reliance on imposing tariffs, which he believes impacts both sides rather than allow the U.S. to “win” from such decision. In the midst of all these issues in international trade, he argues that strengthening close cooperates between countries through trade is a strong deterrent for entering any combative wars with other countries, stating, “[After World War II], increasing trade was always seen as a way to entrench peace. If countries cooperate closely and depend on one another, warfare becomes less likely.”

Iwan Azis is a professor in Regional Science in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University. In addition to his career in academia, he also consulted governments in several different countries, particularly in the Asia region, on domestic and international economic affairs.

The interview can be found here.

Cornell Team Wins Student Design Competition at APA National Conference


In its second year of the program, the American Planning Association (APA) has announced that the Cornell team has won the annual Student Design Competition. The project from Cornell was selected among three finalists, which included teams from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, chosen to present at the APA National Conference in New Orleans.

The jury comprised of representatives in the APA’s Division and the Student Representatives Councils. Each of the finalists responded to the competition’s theme of a “sharing economy,” emphasizing the model of new peer-to-peer interfaces and sharing activities amongst communities that are trending in cities globally. Focusing on the Iberville neighborhood in New Orleans, the Cornell team was tasked to develop “appropriate strategies to address the problems of a poor neighborhood suffering displacement and transformation after Hurricane Katrina,” said CRP chair Jeffrey Chusid.

NOLA Shares concept plan.

The team’s project NOLA Shares demonstrates an integrated and equitable sharing economy model for the Iberville Neighborhood through virtual interfaces and physical kiosks. The team approached the competition through the lenses of equity, accessibility, and community-building. “By providing physical kiosks at strategic points within Iberville, the team aimed to address the technology-dependency of traditional sharing economies,” adds team leader Anna Callahan. The web and app-based platform, NOLA Shares, would be used by Iberville residents to facilitate resources, knowledge, and other amenities shared between members of the community.

Complementing the concept plan, the team developed six specific sub-programs, designed with the existing Iberville neighborhood in mind. The project attempts to address perceived gaps of service within the neighborhood by using sharing economy technologies and physical anchors throughout the Iberville development.

The team envisioned NOLA Shares to strengthen social and economic bonds between the long-time residents of the Iberville community and the new population to the area. Team member Hannah Plummer stated, “This area is experiencing massive neighborhood changes, and we see NOLA Shares as one way to create and nurture a cohesive neighborhood identity.”

The team (L-R): Anna Callahan, Hannah Plummer, Thomas Pera, and Kari Spiegelhalter.

This competition encouraged student teams to encompass students of different academic backgrounds. This year, the team comprised of team leader Anna Callahan (M.R.P. ’18), Thomas Pera (M.R.P. ’18), Hannah Plummer (M.R.P. ’18), and Kari Spiegelhalter (M.L.A. ’18), who joined the team from the Department of Landscape Architecture at Cornell.

All the finalists presented their projects to the Design Competition jury on April 22nd, with the winner announced on April 24th. The Cornell team was awarded $1000.

Shanghai Field Study with Prof. George Frantz

By Professor of Practice George Frantz

Skylne of Shanghai (Photo: George Frantz)

Ten students in Prof. George Frantz’s Shanghai Field Study course spent their Spring Break in an intimate exploration of Shanghai and contemporary urban planning issues the city is grappling with.  In addition to hiking through neighborhoods including Old City lilongs slated for demolition, early 20th-century Shikumen and French Concession villas, post-Liberation xincun (new villages), early 21st century suburbs and Nanhui New City, the students visited the modern commercial centers of Wujiaochang, Xujiahui, and Pudong.

In addition, the Cornell contingent was briefed by urban design students in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University on their analysis of conditions in Nanhui New City.  The Tongji University students are engaged in a parallel urban design course and project in Nanhui New City, under the direction of Professors Daixin Dai and Nannan Dong.  The Cornell students then spent a day in Nanhui conducting their own site documentation.

Min Bu (M.R.P./M.L.A. ’16), Shanghai Urban Construction Design Research Institute

The group was hosted by CRP alumnae Min Bu (MRP/MLA) for a tour of the Lujiahui financial district in Pudong and visit the offices of her employer, Shanghai Urban Construction Design Research Institute, a large planning and design firm.

There was also the opportunity to discuss working in Shanghai over dinner with CRP alumni Qing Cheng (M.A.H.P.P. ’15), Mingxi Pan (M.S.Regional Science ’17), Xiaowei Zhang (M.R.P. ’11), Yi Zhang (M.R.P. ’17) and Minxuan Zou (M.A.Regional Science ’17)

In addition to the six days in Shanghai, the students took a high-speed train to the historic city of Suzhou to tour its streets, temples and classical gardens.

L to R: Jane Yoon, (HADM), Nan Xie (MRP), Jiayun Zou (MRP), Lela Robinson (URS), Rui Yin (MRP), Shiyu Kong (MRP), Maurice Bradford (URS), Yixian Zhou (MRP), Jabari Jordan-Walker (MRP), Yuncheng Wang (URS)


Students who participated in the field trip are Maurice Bradford (URS), Jabari Jordan-Walker (MRP), Shiyu Kong (URS), Lela Robinson (URS), Yuncheng Wang (URS) Nan Xie (MRP), Rui Yin (MRP), Jane Yoon (Hotel), Yixian Zhou (MRP), Jiayun Zou (MRP)

East Hill Village Redevelopment Begins Design Charrette Meetings

Community members commenting on the redevelopment concept model. (Photo: Anna Callahan, M.R.P. ’18)

April 9th marked the beginning of collecting community input for the design of the East Hill Plaza redevelopment project. Following a year after the first public engagement meeting, the East Hill Village Partners gathered stakeholders, including Cornell University, on its first night of a week-long public engagement process that attracted a huge turnout. Guests of the meeting were introduced with the conceptual plans for the plaza. The charrette included physical models and drawings of the conceptual designs, created by the partners.

The stakeholders comprise of a large cohort of development and consulting firms, including the Ithaca-based Whitman Planning and Design firm. Additionally, the team also recruited assistance from Urban Design Associates (UDA), a renown urban design firm from Pittsburgh. The UDA team provided insight on how to reallocate existing properties to meet some of the community’s input, and emphasizing development along Pine Tree Road, a main corridor in the area.

Following the first community forum, the second night opened with the opportunity for community members to comment and provide input on the design. This brainstorming event brought up conversations on the intensity of the development, the type of programmings, such as housing and retail. Stakeholders were able to interact and provide input through a variety of mediums, such as sketches, to other technologically-based tactics to provide stakeholders with a better understanding of the existing property.

A conceptual sketch of the property produced by one of the groups at the design charrette. (Photo: Anna Callahan, M.R.P. ’18)

M.R.P. student Anna Callahan was impressed by the tools that were used during the charrette, which inspired her to consider new ideas for her own future design charrettes throughout the career. “From a planning student perspective, it was interesting to see the current tools and technology used by the industry,” she commented.

Following the design charrette meeting, the last night of the community engagement closed with remarks on the ideas discussed throughout the week and presented the next steps for the project. The meetings confirmed the aesthetic issues with the property, such as the lack of landscaping and green space amenities for passive leisure.

This redevelopment project follows a trend of suburban retrofit projects that are common throughout the country. Suburban retrofit all share the challenges of typical suburban properties that are designed at the scale for automobiles, mainly emphasizing existing sites with large parking lots.

Ideas for redeveloping the East Hill Village Plaza began after the area was marked as a potential site for Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND) redevelopment. Cornell believes the area is a crucial location for redevelopment, due to the close proximity the site has to campus.

The East Hill Village area has undergone some changes in the recent years, particularly with the new development of the Maplewood Apartments, exclusively for graduate and professional students.








Project Eddy Gate Brings New Life to a Historic Site

By Elyse Belarge, M.R.P. ’19

In an effort to revitalize one of the last public spaces in Collegetown, a group of Cornell students will host a weekend-long event and design charette at the Eddy Street Gate in Collegetown. The event will start at 5pm on May 4th and run through the morning of May 6th.

These students are members of Design Connect, a student-led planning organization that provides design services to clients in the Finger Lakes region. The project’s client is the Cornell Planning Office, which will be using the results of the charrette to inform future capital investments in the space.

The charrette will include performances, interactive installations, public art and more. The event will allow participants to experience Eddy Gate in a new way and contribute to shaping the space in the future.

Project Manager Alec Martinez envisions the event as a way to “bring the planning process to the people – as opposed to the other way around – to get the most diverse input as possible. In this sense, this is a democratic, citizen-led revision of public space by the community and for the community.”

Hannah Plummer, Design Connect’s current board chair, sees this event as “a way for Cornell students and the broader Ithaca community to share their ideas for this space and build community with one another.”

We would also like to take an opportunity to thank those who helped sponsor the event; the Women’s Resource Center, the Department of City and Regional Planning, the Organization for Cornell Planners, and the Cornell Council for the Arts.

To find more information about the event schedule and the project, please visit



Women’s Planning Forum Leads Women’s History Walking Tour

In conjunction with Historic Ithaca, Women’s Planning Forum- a graduate group of planning students at Cornell University, is organizing a Women’s History walking tour of downtown Ithaca. Students and Ithaca residents are all welcome to join!

We will visit sites that highlight important women in Ithaca’s history and how different groups have helped shape Ithaca as we know it. We’ll be meeting at Collegetown Bagels downtown for coffee and head out on a 1-1.5 hour walking tour of downtown Ithaca. If you’re at Cornell, you can also purchase tickets from a WPF board member.

The admission price includes coffee and funds will go toward WPF programming and speakers.

Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

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