MRP Alum Awarded Planner of the Year by Northern New England APA Chapter

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Kate McCarthy. photo / Vermont Natural Resources Council

Kate McCarthy M.R.P. ’10 was named Planner of the Year by the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA) at its annual conference in November.

McCarthy is the Sustainable Communities Program Director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, a non-profit environmental advocacy group in Montpelier, Vermont. In the program, her work focuses on strategies to achieve sustainable and compact community building and to provide provisional services to these communities, including transportation, housing, and employment accessibility.

In addition to this recognition by the local APA chapter, in 2018 McCarthy was featured in Vermont Business Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars, which aims to recognize young leaders in Vermont for their professional experience and contribution to business growth in their respective communities. As an M.R.P. student, McCarthy also served as president for the Organization of Cornell Planners (OCP) student organization.

Mellon Collaborative Studies Spring 2020 Fellowship Deadline Extended

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Still from Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar (The Big City), 1963. photo / provided

Mellon Collaborative Studies has extended its application deadline for the spring 2020 Urban Representations Lab seminar to December 16th. The seminar, Edge Cities: Developing New Urban Images in Global Cinema & Media, explores the intersection between cities and moving images. Focusing on the development trends of density and sprawl, the examination of moving images will spur broader discussions of power, social relations, and other topics.

Selected fellows for the Urban Representation Lab seminar will receive a $1,500 stipend in support of materials, including books, films, and images to develop a final project. Past fellows in the seminars explored various methodologies in their research, including ethnography, digital mapping, cinematography, and more.

The seminar is taught by Sabine Haenni, associate professor in the Department of Performing & Media Arts at Cornell. Her teaching areas range from a variety of different media and film genres, in addition to her interest in the intersection between urbanism and cinema.

Past participants of the seminar have included graduate and undergraduate students in the fields of city and regional planning, architecture, and comparative literature.

Design Connect Teams Hold Final Review of their Projects

group of people pose around a poster

Amsterdam-Food Security and Food Justice team photo. photo / William Staffeld

Students who took part in Design Connect showcased their semester-long projects at their final review last night. Through the organization, students engage in practical experience through cooperation with local municipalities and non-profit organizations while supplying design and planning services for these groups, which may not have the resources to hire professionals. Three teams presented their New York-based projects.

Brighton Complete Streets Redesign

This team collaborated with Reconnect Rochester, a bike/pedestrian/transit advocacy organization, as well as the Town of Brighton, to address safety and accessibility improvements along a one-mile section of Monroe Avenue. The team  worked with the community to redesign five intersections along the corridor to better meet the needs of Brighton residents and provided research and analysis for the Town to use to make its case for the improved street designs to NYSDOT.

Amsterdam-Food Security and Food Justice

Working with Centro Civico and the City of Amsterdam’s Department of Community and Economic Development, this team built on a previous semester of work in alleviating food insecurity in the east end of Amsterdam, NY. The team built upon earlier work determining feasibility for a community kitchen and food-related business incubation, participated in the public process around determining food-related programming for a new community center, and worked with community partners on a design-build project for a demonstration garden.

Montezuma Heritage Park

This team worked with the Montezuma Heritage Park to further develop a trailhead entrance. The final design layout included an ADA parking area and walkway and offered alternatives that reinforced the connection between this park entry and adjacent historic sites.

 

Peter Ekman: From Prophecy to Projection: The New York Metropolitan Region Study and the Rescaling of the Urban Future, 1956-1968

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Paramus, New Jersey. photo / Regional Plan Association, 1967

Date and location: December 5, 4:30 p.m. in Room 115, West Sibley Hall

Peter Ekman is the Clarence S. Stein Visiting Scholar in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. He holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of California–Berkeley, where he has lately been a lecturer in human geography. He has also held fellowships from Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, the Huntington Library, the American Geographical Society Library, and the Bancroft Library. This talk builds on a portion of his first book manuscript, a hemispheric intellectual history of postwar planning and urbanism routed through the Harvard–MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies.

Abstract:

Between 1956 and 1959, amid far-flung suburbanization and with the joint backing of several major foundations, an interdisciplinary group of scholars from Harvard collaborated with New York City’s Regional Plan Association (RPA) to produce a widely read and debated 10-volume “projection” of what the physical plant, political economy, and everyday life of that metropolis would look like in 1965, 1975, and 1985. The resulting New York Metropolitan Region Study (NYMRS) was “not a blueprint,” its principals insisted, with “no recommendations to make.” It was, however, to be read as “a necessary prelude to future planning studies of the region” — and greater New York City was, in turn, to be understood as the generalizable archetype for other urban regions in the U.S. and abroad.

This talk will explore the “Vernon Study” — after its director, the economist Raymond Vernon — as a consequential but ultimately peculiar episode in the intellectual histories of planning and social science. Rejecting both the certainties of prophecy and the hazards of mere prediction, the NYMRS sought to establish a new tense for urban research and a new set of methods for making inferences about the emerging metropolitan (mega)region on the basis of empirically registered pasts and presents. The constituent volumes of the study garnered various degrees of influence in isolation; four of them appeared in paperback and helped make the case for putting “quality” works of urban social science in view of the public. Its data, which RPA researchers mined for the next decade, equipped those preparing the Second Regional Plan of New York, issued in 1968. Its interdisciplinary organization also served as a touchstone for an array of one-off forecasting studies and many longer-lived university centers or institutes formed to confront the 1960s’ “urban crisis.” At the same time, the study exposed, even among its most devout modelers and quantifiers, an intense skepticism about the possibility that planners would ever know enough about the future to steer its course. In this way, the study also took part in the prehistory of urban neoconservatism that would command the public sphere by the 1970s. The talk will reconstruct one very specific “future past,” and more broadly it will inquire into the temporality of planning itself — which is before all else a mode of envisioning the future.

More CRP events

Associate Professor Jennifer Minner Featured in CNN Travel Countdown to Expo 2020

Rendering of the 1,080-acre Expo 2020 site in Dubai.

Rendering of the 1,080-acre Expo 2020 site in Dubai. / photo Expo 2020

Associate Professor Jennifer Minner contributed to CNN Travel’s Countdown to Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In the countdown, Minner provided a historical overview of previously held expos. The 1962 expo in Seattle, Washington, she stated, was a prominent example of developing civic space and iconic architectural pieces, including the Seattle Space Needle. “One measure of a successful Expo is whether it has a societal impact in urban planning,” Minner commented.

Professor Minner has been interested in the concept of mega-event sites in her research. In the department, she has taught seminar courses on how city government agencies have channeled public and private investments to become host cities. Her special topics course Cultural Landscapes, Public Space, and former Mega-Event Sites has provided students the opportunity to research and develop design, preservation, and cultural strategies for various mega-event sites throughout history.

The CNN Travel video on the Expo 2020 countdown is part of the Global Gateway series, which documents the rapid developments occurring in Dubai. Minner’s interview can be heard at 1:13 in the video.

Field Trip to a Rust-Belt City: Utica

group of people posing with a statue

photo / Gianni Valenti

by Gianni Valenti B.S. URS ’22

Before making the three-hour trek from Ithaca to Utica, NY, I had many assumptions about what this trip could possibly have in store; the City of Utica simultaneously surpassed and dispelled all I had believed. Planned and hosted by the Organization of Urban and Regional Studies student group (OURS), the journey itself was one well worth the time and energy because, as a sophomore, I was not only able to further bond with my cohort, but also to get to know the new freshman class and enjoy their company as we dissected the urban fabric of this unique place.

The first stop on our excursion was the Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides funds for social investment and urban development. There we had the chance to take a look at a masterplan for downtown Utica that the Foundation funded. This plan detailed the unique issues of planning in a rust-belt city and how Utica is trying to rebrand its urban core. I was not only surprised with the ambition of the plan, but also intrigued by the ways in which the Community Foundation wants to advertise the future of the city. The crown jewel of Utica is The Aud, a mixed-use auditorium that not only stands as a symbol of civic pride, but is also somewhat of a beacon of hope for the city’s future. This contrasts with a great tension in the city – the hospital. During our meeting with the Community Foundation, we got a glimpse at the conversation surrounding the new hospital complex planned for downtown.

Traveling between destinations, we drove through various different zones of the city, getting a taste for the new, old, and in-between parts of Utica. Reaching downtown, we finally saw the site for the new hospital. With all the original warehouses and industrial buildings still intact, the streets and sidewalks were fenced off chain-link, covered with signs showing renderings of the new hospital. The group came face-to-face with a physical manifestation of the briefing we had received about the hospital controversy when we spotted a row of buildings with a banner reading “NO HOSPITAL DOWNTOWN” strung across their fronts. With this in mind, we continued on to our second stop.

We next visited The Aud, the official name for which is the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Aud is more than just an entertainment venue – it is the most visited site in the city and contributes to an overwhelming feeling of civic pride. During our visit, we were guided by three personnel from The Aud’s financial and management departments and their enthusiasm for the building spoke volumes about how important this site is to Utica’s decisions in planning. Many of us came away from that visit with our eyes opened to a new form of civic engagement and placemaking surrounding sports and entertainment. I know I usually think of social gathering spaces centering more on parks and public works, but this private enterprise serves the roles of all of these spaces and more in Utica.

Our last visit was to The Center, a refugee resettlement and aid center located in Utica’s downtown. Personally, this was my favorite part of the trip because the topic of refugees and immigration is not only increasingly important in modern planning, but is also something none of my classes have touched on in a modern sense. At The Center, we were able to discuss with organization leaders just how important the refugee community is to Utica’s urban fabric and future development. Resettling between 400 and 600 refugees in the city a year, this organization assists almost all of the total immigrants to Utica. We had an active discussion regarding how to plan for these populations and meet their needs as they move to America, and specifically how Utica accommodates them. While the conversation was inspirational in terms of planning for diverse populations, it was kind of depressing when looking at Utica’s future as the current presidential administration continues to block refugees coming into the country.

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