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.


Alum Q&A: Elyse Belarge M.R.P. ’19

office lobby

Elyse Belarge (center) at the VHB White Plains office. photo / Leslie Kahan Photography

A recent graduate from the regional planning program, Elyse Belarge M.R.P. ’19 is currently working as a planner for Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB), a multidisciplinary engineering consulting and design firm, at their White Plains, New York office. Belarge has been involved in several projects across the Hudson Valley, Westchester, and Long Island areas, including projects outside the state. Since joining the firm this past summer, projects she’s been involved with have focused on land use and community development, zoning, and environmental reviews.

While at Cornell, Belarge was involved in several different academic organizations. She served on the Board for the Organization of Cornell Planners (OCP) as social chair, where she planned and coordinated department functions including the OCP Auction fundraiser. 

Recreationally, she led several cross country skiing and day hiking classes through Cornell Outdoor Education. Within the department, she captained West Sibley FC, the planning intramural soccer team, for two years.

Belarge recently reflected on her time at Cornell and what experiences she’s been able to apply to her position as a planner in an engineering firm:

Q: What kinds of projects are you currently involved with at VHB?

Belarge: I’m currently part of a team working on a Consolidated Plan and Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI) for Nassau County, New York. This includes going to committee and stakeholder meetings to hear what agencies and organizations who work in housing and related fields think the county needs to focus its efforts on over the next five years. I’m assisting with drafting reports on the Affordable Housing and High Opportunity Area (HOA) studies that will inform the AI project as well as future applications for development in the county. 

Q: What courses do you think have been relevant to the projects you’re working on now?

Belarge: Definitely Graphic Communications (I’m one of two people in my office who know the software). Professor Booth’s law class and Professor Frantz’s Environmental Impact Review class have both been closely related to the studies I’m focusing on. 

Q: Were there any other experiences at Cornell that informed your work as a planner?

Belarge: I’m a big advocate for Design Connect and getting the project management experience from that opportunity. I worked on two tactical urbanism projects through Design Connect. My first project produced a tactical placemaking handbook that would be used by residents of Tompkins County. The second was a weekend-long pop-up park called ‘Eddy Gate.’ The goal of that project was to assess the wants and needs of users in this public space by the Collegetown entrance of Cornell to inform potential future park designs for the neighborhood.




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.

Andrea Roberts Discusses The Texas Freedom Colonies Project at The CRP Colloquium Speaker Series

Jasper and Newton County, Texas, Freedom Colony Homecoming Presidents (2014), in Shankleville, Texas. photo / Sarah Junek

Andrea Roberts, assistant professor of landscape architecture and urban planning at Texas A&M University, is the founder of The Texas Freedom Colonies Project which documents placemaking activity by African American homesteads in eastern Texas. She presented her work and future goals which she strives to achieve to preserve the legacy behind these homesteads as part of the City and Regional Planning department’s Fall Colloquium Speaker Series. More information on the event can be found here.


Spatial Data Analysis Workshop in Moshi, Tanzania

Students and residents discussing relevant issues to the community.

In conjunction with the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College, located in Moshi, Tanzania, the workshop led by City and Regional Planning professor Stephan Schmidt provided training in spatial analytical data gathering and analysis for researcher, students, and practitioners, and more broadly assisted in training the trainers and professionals of tomorrow. In addition, the project sought to improve the capability of partner institutions to gather data, conduct spatial analysis, monitor and evaluate programs and projects, and ultimately improve decision making in three key interrelated fields of public health,conservation, and land tenure. In order to train communities to address relevant issues of importance to these communities, create baseline household and village level socio-economic and public health data, and to allow the students to receive practical experience in the mobile collection of data, interpretation and analysis, and presentation of the results.


Community engagement was a fundamental component of the workshop.

Final presentation discussing findings of the project site.

When Companies Lead on Infrastructure, Taxpayers Often Bear the Costs

A section of the Goethals Bridge, which connects Elizabeth, N.J., with Staten Island, is being worked on by Macquarie, an Australian investment bank. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

City & Regional Planning professor Mildred Warner  has been quoted in a recently published New York Times article discussing the Trump Administration’s push toward Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in U.S. infrastructural improvements. The administration is touting this week as “infrastructure week.”  Article can be found here.

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