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Students Present Design Strategies to Lansing Planning Board

computer rendering of a movie theater and retail store with green space

Rendering of redesigned retail and entertainment spaces. image / Yixuan Li

Students in Visiting Critic Mitch Glass’s Advanced Urban Design Workshop create real urban design strategies to address real issues for real clients. This week, this semester’s cohort presented their plans to transform The Shops at Ithaca Mall and Cayuga Mall into a mixed-use regional and village center to the Village of Lansing Planning Board and Board of Trustees. Their presentations were covered by a local news outlet.

aerial view of The Shops at Ithaca Mall and Cayuga Mall

image / Yixuan Li

Students were tasked with turning these suburban shopping malls into a dense, walkable, bikeable and transit-connected neighborhood while also mitigating traffic impact over a 30-40 year period. They worked in three teams and proposed strategies such as expanding workforce housing, development of a wellness path, creation of an outdoor recreation center, and daylighting streams which have been running underneath the malls’ parking lots for decades.

For the past twenty years, suburban shopping malls have been on the decline. Plans to update these retail spaces while creating cohesive neighborhoods can breathe into them new life.


collage of images of student drawings and students working on drawings

photos / Mitch Glass

Computer rendering of a park with a tower

image / Xinyu He

Map illustrating two streams running underground beneath a shopping mall

image / Quinn Kelly

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

headshot with natural backdrop

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

light gray skies

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

Historic photo of road

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.


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.

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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.

Ed LeClear: Planning in University Communities: Balancing Innovation and Preservation

a downtown street lined with shops

photo / provided

Date and location: November 22, 12:20 p.m. in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium, Milstein Hall

Ed LeClear (M.R.P. ’10) is the planning and community development director for the borough of State College, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the borough, LeClear was the community development director for the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities and a community planner with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. He began his career in downtown revitalization working for the Pennsylvania Downtown Center.

A native of Northeast Ohio, LeClear received his B.A. from Miami University (Ohio), a master of science in urban studies from Cleveland State University and a master of regional planning from Cornell University. LeClear is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and provides service to the profession as a board member of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association, for which he serves as chair of the legislative committee.


University communities are dynamic places for planners to apply their craft across nearly every specialty in the profession. Whether it is cutting edge climate resiliency work, economic development, multimodal transportation planning, affordable housing, or critical zoning enforcement, working as a planning professional in a college town requires that you do it all. University communities are laboratories for innovation but are also often resistant to change, particularly in terms of land use. This colloquium’s discussion will focus on specific techniques and tools being used in State College (home of the Pennsylvania State University), to balance innovation and preservation, particularly in this era of a booming purpose-built student housing market. Come for an interactive discussion with a CRP alumnus working in local government for more than 15 years (with a few scars to prove it).

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Eric Nost: Climate Services for Whom? The Political Economics of Contextualizing Climate Data in Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan

satellite image of hurricane over the state of Louisianna

Hurricane Katrina making landfall over Louisiana in 2005. photo / NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Date and location: November 20, 4:30 p.m. in Room 115, West Sibley Hall

Eric Nost is a geographer researching how data and technology inform conservation. He draws on and contributes to the fields of political ecology, science and technology studies, and digital geographies. Nost’s most recent project followed the state of Louisiana’s efforts to simulate future wetlands loss along the Gulf Coast. Based on interviews, document surveys, and attendance at public meetings, Nost explored how bureaucrats and ecosystem scientists develop an infrastructure for modeling, build an institution and lean on technologies to learn from their simulations, and apply their findings to planning large-scale coastal restoration. Nost received a Ph.D. in geography (2018) from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Nost is currently an assistant professor at the University of Guelph, where he teaches classes in nature-society geography and (web) mapping, using maps to publicize hidden dimensions of environmental policy. He also participates in the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, tracking how the U.S. federal government portrays climate change and other issues on the web. For the past several years, Nost has collaborated in an effort to collate and visualize U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data on the North American hazardous waste trade.


Adaptation planning includes contextualizing global and regional climate data within specific decision-making processes. As such, planners are increasingly interested in climate services. Climate services involve the expert production of forecasts, scenarios, economic analyses, and other data products to help users meaningfully address local changes and variabilities. For instance, in the state of Louisiana, modelers tailor 50-year storm, precipitation, and sea-level rise predictions to help planners select adaptive ecological restoration projects. Modelers do so by downscaling the data, combining it with other social and biophysical information, and framing results in terms of stakeholder interests.

In this lecture, Nost questions what it means to develop adaptation information that is geared towards specific users and stakeholders. Given the growing recognition that adaptation planning can prove maladaptive, Nost asks, when do climate services actually exacerbate existing vulnerabilities? To answer, he draws on three cases from Louisiana’s coastal Master Plan and highlights political-economic factors informing climate services: influential stakeholders, funding dynamics, the framing of planning decisions, and differential harms and benefits. Nost argues that when climate data is made relevant to existing interests, budgets, and plans, it can reproduce vulnerabilities and foreclose transformative adaptation. However, marginalized stakeholders can also pressure experts to contextualize data in ways that mitigate vulnerabilities. I conclude that climate services research and practice should expand user-centered approaches by asking climate services for whom and by assessing the winners and losers from climate variability, change, and adaptation actions themselves.

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CRP out in full force at the ACSP 2019 conference

People seated at round tables in an event space

photo / Kay Meyer Photography

The Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) was well-represented at October’s annual conference for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) in Greenville, South Carolina. CRP faculty and Ph.D. students engaged in a variety of different events, ranging from paper presentations to participation in panel discussions.

“It was inspiring and gratifying to see the significant participation by Cornell at this year’s ACSP annual meeting,” said department chair Jeffrey Chusid. “Eleven members of our faculty, as well as 11 CRP Ph.D. students, delivered presentations on their research, while a number of them and other Cornellians engaged in panels and other discussions about the future of the planning field. The intellectual life of the department is thriving.”

For Ph.D. students, the experience presenting their research to a broader audience outside the department provided insight into areas of exploration for furthering their work and introducing them to other academics in the field.

“My initial approach to the ACSP conference was broad. I wanted to see a wide variety of sessions throughout the conference tracks,” Ph.D. candidate Dylan Stevenson commented. “Doing so offered me a glimpse as to how different planning ‘circles’ communicated and the ways in which planning subfields attempt to tackle the same problem.”

CRP faculty and alumni were among the recipients of faculty awards at the conference. Assistant professor Nicholas Klein was recognized as one of the Top Reviewers for the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER). In selecting a Top Reviewer, editors examine the quantity, quality, and timeliness of each candidate’s reviews.

Additionally, Courtney Knapp (CRP Ph.D. ’14), associate professor at Pratt Institute, received the Paul Davidoff Book Award for her publication Constructing the Dynamo of Dixie. The award recognizes an outstanding book regarding participatory planning and positive social change, opposing poverty and racism as factors in society and seeking ways to address social and place-based inequalities.

The 2020 ACSP conference will be held in Toronto, Canada.

Steven Higashide: Winning the Fight for U.S. Urban Transit

bus sketch on street

Envisioning better surface transit in Boston, created as part of a campaign for bus improvements. illustration / Ad Hoc Industries

Date and location: November 15, 12:20 p.m. in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium, Milstein Hall

Steven Higashide is a writer, planner, and the director of research for the national foundation TransitCenter, which works with advocacy organizations and public transportation agencies to improve transit that makes cities more just and sustainable. Over a 12-year career in transportation advocacy, he has helped defeat congressional attempts to end federal transit funding, won state legislation strengthening penalties for careless driving, and authored research into the preferences of transit riders and city policies that prioritize transit. Higashide is the author of Better Buses, Better Cities, and his writing has appeared in outlets including The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Next City, and Planning & Environmental Law. He received his master’s degree in urban planning from New York University and is a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Transportation Demand Management. He was named to the Association for Commuter Transportation’s “40 under 40” in 2016.


Better urban transit is essential to making U.S. cities more just and sustainable. Yet implementation lags, even though better bus and rail service mostly requires enacting best practices that have long existed elsewhere. Why is this? In this talk, Steven Higashide shows how reactionary local, state, and federal politics have enacted structural barriers that make even incremental change difficult in American transit. Cities that overcome them do so through alliances between civic advocates, public agency leaders, and pro-transit elected officials. From New York to Indianapolis to Seattle, transit reform hinges on visionary bureaucrats, steadfast mayors, and advocates of all stripes—wonky transportation bloggers, progressive churches, downtown business groups, and civil rights lawyers.This talk details structural impediments to better transit (like public engagement processes and funding programs that are biased against riders) and the campaigns and coalitions that reformers have used to win transit funding, street space, equitable policy, and operational excellence.

This is a Russell Van Nest Black lecture.

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Suzanne Lanyi Charles’s Research Featured in Recent Publications


headshot of a woman with blonde hair wearing a blue shirt

Suzanne Charles

Assistant Professor Suzanne Lanyi Charles has recently published two papers stemming from her ongoing research concerning the post-crisis financialization of housing. Charles’s research explores the shifts in the way global capital is being reinvested in local housing markets since the 2008 housing crisis and the effects of those shifts on households and access to housing. One important manifestation of these shifts is an increase in single-family rental housing (SFR) in suburban neighborhoods. While increases in suburban SFR may provide access to neighborhoods otherwise off-limits to renters, the increasing dominance of corporate ownership of SFR may be problematic.

Charles takes look at SFRs in a broad collection of U.S. metropolitan areas in “A Latent Profile Analysis of Suburban Single-Family Rental Housing (SFR) Neighborhoods” (Housing Policy Debate, October 29, 2019). “Single-family rental housing (SFR) is an increasingly prevalent form of housing tenure in U.S. suburban neighborhoods, representing a paradigm shift in how households gain access to a suburban single-family home,” she writes.

Using a specialized data analysis technique, the paper classifies types of suburban neighborhoods having high rates of SFR located in the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Concentrations of SFR were found to be located in a variety of neighborhoods, including diverse middle-class, older white middle-class, low-income Hispanic, low-income African American, and affluent neighborhoods. The study finds that the composition of high-SFR neighborhoods in these areas varies substantially. The article examines the variation in the types of high-SFR neighborhoods for the areas studied and presents a detailed analysis of the spatial distribution of high-SFR neighborhood types in Atlanta, L.A., and Boston.

In “The Financialization of Single-Family Rental Housing: An Examination of Real Estate Investment Trusts’ Ownership of Single-Family Houses in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area” (Journal of Urban Affairs, October 11, 2019), Charles writes that a new type of SFR investor emerged after the 2008 housing crisis — real estate investment trusts (REITs) that funnel large amounts of global capital into local housing markets.

The paper presents an examination of investments made by the four largest publicly traded SFR REITs in the Atlanta metro area. Using exploratory spatial data analysis methods, the study examines the intensity and locations of statistically significant spatial clusters of SFR owned by REITs. Findings indicate that overall, houses owned by SFR REITs are highly spatially clustered in neighborhoods forming a U-shape surrounding the city of Atlanta. Furthermore, many of the places where SFR REIT ownership is clustered are places that were hard hit by the 2008 housing crisis. Increased rents, depressed house prices, deferred maintenance, and increased evictions due to REIT ownership may increase unaffordability, create greater instability, and decrease quality of housing for households in an already precarious position in the housing market.

Charles’s research has received grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Real Estate Academic Initiative at Harvard University, Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell, and the President’s Council of Cornell Women.

By Patti Witten

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.




Stephen Hammer: Financing a Resilient Urban Future: World Bank Experience Financing Climate-Resilient Urban Infrastructure

wave splashing road

photo / Cire Notrevo,

Date and location: November 8, 12:20 p.m. in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, 132 Goldwin Smith Hall

Stephen Hammer serves as an advisor of global partnerships and strategy for the climate change team at the World Bank and leads on the bank’s engagement on climate change issues with the United Nations, the G7, the G20, and select other institutions. He formerly served as manager of climate policy for the World Bank Group (WBG), and before that, as a lead specialist on cities and climate change. Prior to joining the WBG in 2013, Hammer was a member of the graduate faculty at MIT and Columbia University, where he taught classes on energy systems, energy policy, benefit-cost analysis, and urban climate change issues. Hammer has served as an advisor to Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC team; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s work on urban green growth; President Bush’s Commission on Environmental Quality; and the Chinese Ministry of Housing, Urban, and Rural Development, for which he developed and led training programs for more than 250 Chinese mayors on urban energy and climate issues. Hammer holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, an M.P.P. from Harvard University, and a B.S. from the University of California–Davis.


As urbanization trends become more prominent globally, questions arise about how cities will develop physically, demographically, economically, and technologically. Each dimension has implications for the type and scale of infrastructure needed to facilitate —or manage —these changes. Climate change raises the ante on all of these issues. The cost of the direct physical impacts of climate change may be exceeded by the indirect economic losses suffered if essential infrastructure systems and supply chains are forced offline. In the Global South, the problem is even more complex because many cities already facing an infrastructure deficit must also grapple with the growing demand for infrastructure sufficient to accommodate their burgeoning populations. Where will the resources come from to pay for climate-related repairs or these new or replacement climate-resilient urban infrastructure systems? This talk will explore what funding and financing instruments may be available to local governments and infrastructure system operators in cities around the world.

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Andrea Caragliu: Who’s Right, Weber or Glaeser?

city at night

photo / Pixabay

Date and location: November 7, 4:30 p.m. in 115 West Sibley Hall

Andrea Caragliu is an associate professor in regional and urban economics at Politecnico di Milano. Since January 2019, he has been the executive director of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI). He is the book review editor of the Papers in Regional Science. Caragliu holds a Ph.D. in management, economics, and industrial engineering (Politecnico di Milano, 2010). His dissertation was awarded the Merit Prize of the EU Committee of the Regions Prize for the Best Doctoral Dissertation and was also awarded the Diploma d’Onore AISRe for the best doctoral dissertation in regional science “Giorgio Leonardi” 2010. Caragliu also holds a Ph.D. in spatial economics (VU University Amsterdam, 2015), master’s and bachelor’s degrees in economics (Bocconi University in Milan, 2005 and 2003, respectively), and was a visiting student in the spatial economics department of the Free University of Amsterdam in 2008–09. Caragliu has published in various international refereed journals such as Economic Geography, Journal of Regional Science, Journal of Economic Geography, Papers in Regional Science, and Journal of Urban Technology.


In this paper, we measure the relative importance of consumption and production-related amenities as sources of agglomeration economies. To this aim, we exploit a large database comprising about 70 percent of all house transactions in the Netherlands in the period 2005–11, CBS neighborhood data from the Wijk-en Buurtkaart, data on monuments from the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, data on firm-level productivity from Orbis, and, lastly, L.I.S.A. data of all registered firms in the Netherlands. The paper provides two main contributions: We measure the intensity of the productivity effect of consumption and production-related amenities for the Dutch case, and we observe whether the relative intensity of the two effects changes over the observed time span, following recent theoretical predictions. Our findings suggest that both consumption and production-related externalities are reflected in house prices and firm productivity. In particular, urban land rent increases with the intensity of competition, as well as with the presence of local consumption amenities (major monuments, theatres, and restaurants). Firms also tend to be more productive when located closer to sources of consumption amenities, although the evidence is less compelling. Results are robust to a number of robustness checks, as well as to the use of instrumental variables, with soil composition as the main instrument. Instead, we find no evidence of a relative decline of the importance of production externalities with respect to consumption amenities.

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