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HPP Alum Explores Historic Structures through Sound

Historic Preservation Planning alumnus Andy Roblee (M.A. H.P.P. ’17) recalls visiting Sage Chapel, a popular destination on Cornell’s campus, for the first time as a student, along with other preservation student peers, to examine the integrity of the building. 

While many know the chapel as the resting place for the founders of the university, taking a preservation perspective entails a deeper appreciation for the materials, form, and spatial context of the structure. Those factors were given great weight in the construction of Sage Chapel which, as a performance space, needed to successfully augment sounds.

As a musician, Roblee wanted to break from the overly-engineered recording studios that he feels eliminate all reflective surfaces and ambient sound. As a preservationist, he is always looking for creative outlets and new ways to engage with historic spaces.

He began his “Historic Structures of Sound” project back in August, when he first experimented with sound sessions at a former bank building in his hometown of Auburn, New York. Despite the building being built for commercial purposes, he was astonished by the resonance the sound of the keys from the property owner’s piano had on the space.

“I would say there are two goals of this project: one creative and one more academic,” said Roblee. “First, to produce a record of original music arranged and recorded to capture the intangible historic fabric of the space, imbuing the music with real meaning. Second, to demonstrate how acoustics are a character-defining feature of a historic building, providing another tool for the preservationist/planner/developer to determine and market a new use for an old building. By showing how spaces can be saved to create meaningful experiences, these two goals are merged in the pursuit of sustainability and place-making.”

He hopes that the first phase of his project will open up opportunities for recording at other sites. Some sites where he expressed interest in recording include the Binghamton Inebriate Asylum, currently a vacant National Historic Landmark and the first hospital in the country to attempt to treat alcoholism as an illness.

Roblee is documenting this project through his personal blog,

2nd Annual CRP Poster Competition

Students in the Department of City and Regional Planning are engaged in interesting and important research on a wide variety of topics. A vital part of a planner’s education is learning how to communicate information about this research to the broader community of policy makers, stakeholders, and residents. Please join us in selecting which of the following 8 submissions to the CRP Annual Poster Competition have best achieved that goal.

You can click and zoom on any of the posters to see it larger. Ballots are at the bottom of the page. You are invited to vote your 1st, 2nd and 3rd place choices. The author(s) of the winning poster will receive $500, the two runners-up $250 each.

Thank you for participating in this on-line recognition of the work of students in CRP!

1 Bangkok’s high rate of vehicular congestion – A spatial analysisPoster depicting a spatial analysis of Bangkok's high rate of vehicular congestion


2 Live-work neighborhood: Port Morris, Bronx, NY
Poster depicting a live-work neighborhood design in Port Morris, Bronx, NY


3 Visualizing changing flood risks in NYCPoster depicting a visualization of changing flood risks in NYC


4 Living with the floods: Vulnerabilities of Tbong Khmom, Cambodia

Poster depicting areas of Tbong Khmom, Cambodia that are vulnerable to flooding


5 Hailington: Reimagining a new urban corePoster depicting a hypothetical, 22-acre sustainable city

6 Camp Columbus restoration development planPoster depicting a restoration development plan for Camp Columbus in Owasco, NY


7 Investigating the impacts of streetscapes on street-level crimes in NYC using street view imagery data and computer vision

Poster depicting an analysis of the impact of streetscapes on street-level crimes in NYC


8 Dissolving the island: Urban design of vacant space under city viaduct
Poster depicting an urban design of vacant space under a city viaduct in Harbin, Heilongjiang Privince, China

Enter your selection for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place posters below. Only one vote per question is permitted. The final day of voting will be Wednesday, April 1.

Virtual CRP Graduate Open House for Admitted Students, Spring 2020

snow-covered building
The Arts Quad in winter, with Sibley Hall.

CRP’s Open House for admitted applicants is a time-honored tradition. At this time, however, we are working to ensure that the university’s travel and events policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are properly observed. Unfortunately, this means that the Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) was not able to host admitted students for the in-person open house event we had originally planned in Ithaca on March 20.

In lieu of this event, we posted a series of introductory videos from faculty, current students, and alumni, discussing various aspects of Cornell, the graduate degrees offered by the department, the CRP experience, and beyond. Although there is nothing like seeing the campus in person on a beautiful spring day, we are looking forward to capturing the unique spirit of our community in this new format.

Please visit our Virtual CRP Graduate Open House page to experience the e-vent.

April 27 Alumni Event in Houston Canceled

on left: a raised highway. on right: row of houses

On March 10, Cornell announced proactive measures to promote the health and safety of our community and to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) ( These restrictions include moving to online instruction following spring break, postponing or cancelling non-essential events and campus visits, and discouraging faculty and staff travel both domestic and international, effective immediately.

Unfortunately, this means that the Cornell CRP Alumni Reception in Houston scheduled for April 27 has been cancelled. We are disappointed not to see you next month, but hope that we will be able to reunite at APA next year or at another event soon.

We take the health and safety of our Cornell family very seriously, and we appreciate your understanding. We encourage you to visit Cornell’s coronavirus website for more information as it becomes available.

CANCELLED: Lynn Ross: Equity in the Commons

park along pond
photo / Kaboompics from Pexels

Date and location: March 13, 12:20 p.m. in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium, Milstein Hall

Lynn M. Ross (M.R.P. ’01) AICP is the founder and principal of Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC where she works for organizations both nationally and across different sectors on a mission to create and sustain equitable policies, practices, and places. Dedicated to serving mission-driven organizations, Ross has over 18 years of multi-sector experience including past senior leadership roles as vice president of community and national initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; deputy assistant secretary for Policy Development in the Office of Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and executive director of the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing. She has also served as chief operating officer for the National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy, as well as manager of the Planning Advisory Service at the American Planning Association.

A frequent speaker and award-winning author, Ross has an M.R.P. degree from Cornell and a B.S. in community and regional planning from Iowa State University. Ross was honored with the 2009 Design Achievement Award from the Iowa State University College of Design and the 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the Iowa State University Alumni Association. In 2017, she became a fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar at Session 574, The Child in the City: Health, Parks, and Play. In 2019, Ross was named one of 50 “Women of Influence” by the Royal Town Planning Institute’s The Planner magazine.


Nearly every trend line shows that the U.S. is in the grips of increased polarization, segregation, social isolation, and economic inequality. There is an urgent need to reverse these trends in pursuit of more equitable communities and public spaces—our civic commons —can play an essential role. Reimagining the civic commons is a national initiative that seeks to counter economic and social fragmentation in our cities by revitalizing and connecting public places such as parks, plazas, trails, and libraries to bring together people from different backgrounds. Join Ross for a discussion exploring the power of public spaces and strategies for creating an equitable civic commons. Learn how teams in Akron, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia implemented Reimagining the Civic Commons by centering on residents to advance the goals of socioeconomic mixing, civic engagement, environmental sustainability, and value creation.

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