we enjoy making cities more livable together with you

Talking about participation

In September, I was invited to speak at Rising Architecture in Aarhus, Denmark. I don’t like the way I look on video, but I think the editors capture very well some of the most important points I said in this interview after my talk. thank you.

How to capture the invisible by meeting people from Rising Architecture on Vimeo.

Speaking about spaces of migration…

Speaking about spaces of migration…

on April 22nd at a 1-day summit at NYU in New York, which brings together various diplomats, representatives from the…

Writing about PARKINGPLUS

In May, our article about speculative design for parking on Long Island was published in articulo: Journal for Urban Research:

ParkingPLUS: How Design Produces a Future for Long Island’s Suburban Downtowns

https://articulo.revues.org/docannexe/image/2966/img-1.jpgSpeculative design can be a useful tool in building broad-based support among community members and stakeholders for denser, transit-oriented development, and a greater mix of uses in North American suburbs, particularly in suburban regions characterized by both fractured governance and persistent segregation by race and class such as found in the Long Island suburbs of New York City. Urban design and in particular urban design competitions provide opportunity to initiate public conversations about the potential for retrofitting selected suburban sites to new built configurations that are more socially sustainable and resilient over time. Recent efforts by the Long Island Index, a project of the Rauch Foundation, to leverage research through sponsoring design competitions to generate an informed conversation about land use around transit stations in Long Island’s suburban downtowns serves as an example. We present the 2013-14 Build a Better Burb: ParkingPLUS design challenge and its results as well as local and national reactions to them – including debates in the freewheeling discursive space of online comments to articles. We emphasize the role that speculative design can play in advancing local policies and decision-making processes that support a greater densification and diversification of transit-supported suburban downtowns. See the full article here


while waiting for warmer weather…

Snow again in New York City. Here in anticipation of warmer days to come, watch the video about Hike the Heights featuring our map.
next hike is June 6th, 2015

Morningside Park Green Gym

Morningside Park Green Gym

Morningside Park Green Gym is launching this spring. See a preview of the map we designed for it.

Conversations: Equity Agendas on Monday October 27th

Conversations: Equity Agendas on Monday October 27th

Presented as part of the annual Max Bond Lecture, an annual series of design talks in memory of J. Max Bond, Jr., FAIA, Institute for Public Architecture fellows will explore ideas for public and below-market housing at this joint event.

Hike the Heights 10: You’re Invited!

For the past year youarethecity has been working with CLIMB (City Live is Moving Bodies) to enhance access and visibility of the beautiful parks in Upper Manhattan and the trail that connects them all -a path that leads you through some of the most beautiful moments where infrastructure meets nature, amazing views and lots of history from Central Park to the Cloisters. To make this all more visible and accessible, we created a map that is now printed and will be available at Hike the Heights – an annual hike along the path this Saturday June 7th -see below for start times. (I recommend the Northern half, so start at the RING Garden at Dyckman and Broadway, the A train takes you right there)
Download a pdf version of the map here

Hike Starting Locations and Times:
RING Garden (Dyckman & Broadway): Meet at 9:45 am; Depart at 10 am
Swindler Cove (Dyckman & 10th Ave): Meet at 10:30 am; Depart at 11 am 
Central Park (110th St & Central Park West): Meet at 9:45 am; Depart at 10 am
Morningside Park (118th St & Morningside Ave): Meet at 10:20 am; Depart at 10:30 am
St. Nicholas Park (135th St & St. Nicholas Ave): Meet at 10:50 am; Depart at 11 am
Jackie Robinson Park (148th St & Bradhurst Ave): Meet at 11:20 am; Depart at 11:30 am
All Hikes End at a Community Celebration: 
Art, Dancing, Music, Food, and Fun!
Highbridge Park (Sunken Playground at 167th St & Edgecombe Ave): 11:30 am – 3 pm

Build a Better Burb Parking PLUS

There are more than 4,000 acres of surface parking lots in and around Long Island’s downtowns—that’s about 6.5 square miles solely dedicated to parking. In September 2013, the Long Island Index announced the ParkingPLUS Design Challenge to solicit innovative designs for parking structures, freeing up this valuable land for better uses. The design challenge paired four leading architectural firms with four Long Island communities: Utile, Inc. worked with Rockville Centre, LTL Architects worked with Westbury, Roger Sherman Architecture and Urban Design worked with Ronkonkoma, and dub Studios worked with Patchogue. Although each firm developed their design for a specific community, their ideas can be readily applied to downtowns across the Long Island region and around the nation. The challenge also included analyses of costs to build and maintain each of the parking structures, how to finance them, and economic benefits.The designs were released to the public January 16, 2014.

Image: Utile, Inc for Rockville Centre.

Together with  June Williamson, Associate Professor of Architecture at The City College of New York/CUNY, author of Designing Suburban Futures and co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia, I had the great pleasure of coordinating this effort for the Long Island Index.

See some press coverage of the Design Challenge in Newsday, Long Island Advance ,CBS News, NBC News. All designs can be viewed in detail at Build ab Better Burb

Designing Services for Housing

Finally! Designing Services for Housing is the culmination of 18 months of research, design and discovery with the Public Policy Lab, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Parsons DESIS Lab. The publication illustrates how our team of fellows developed proposals that support the way in which New Yorkers understand and apply for affordable housing. Among collaborators referred to as the “How-to-guide”, this report will now sit on agency staff’s desk as vital instruction for implementing these ideas as pilots. We will continue to work with HPD throughout 2014 to see, how that worked.

publication cover



Spontaneous Interventions

Some images from the Venice Architecture Biennale, where the Field Guide to Phytoremediation is featured in the US Pavilion’s Spontaneous Intervention exhibit.






Re-thinking Services

Re-thinking Services

Public & Collaborative, a project to design services for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Guilty Landscapes

Guilty Landscapes

The Spring 2012 Issue of Volume features the Field Lab for Phytoremediation in its issue on Guilty Landscape. “Guilt has…

Field Lab in Landscape Architecture Magazine

thank you Alex Ulam for writing a wonderful article about phytoremediation in Landscape Architecture Magazine and featuring the Field Lab at La Finca in it.


The Field Guide is here

Publication 2011

The Field Guide to Phytoremediation is finally printed. This 40-page booklet translates scientific research into easy-to-understand graphics and text, gives some background about urban vacant land, contamination and how plants can help to fix it. We will distribute copies at upcoming workshops this summer at our field lab in the South Bronx.  You can download a pdf here. If you are interested in receiving a copy email us.

sample page field guide

Environment Transformer

Workshop 2011

How do scent, sound, taste, sight, and touch influence our feelings of comfort or discomfort in public space? Can design improve happiness? The urban landscape produces feelings of anxiety, fear, pleasure, and excitement.  Invited by writer Charles Montgomery, who is writing a book about happiness and cities, I recently moderated two workshops at the BMW Guggenheim Lab. As part of the lab’s theme “Confronting Comfort”, Colin Ellard, a research psychologist at the University of Waterloo had collected data on a variety of sites surrounding the lab, monitoring the state of excitement, mood and ability to concentrate of participants. Borrowing from Haus-Rucker-Co.’s Environment Transformers we spent one day intervening in this perception by building wearable objects to explore the way our five sense experience public space and a second day building site specific interventions to generate discussion about our perception of public space, what drives it and how can design responds to the five senses.

Picture 1






more images are here at the Lab’s flickr site.