Premises

The Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Office for Urbanization draws upon the School’s history of design innovation to address societal and cultural conditions associated with contemporary urbanization. It develops speculative and projective urban scenarios through sponsored design research projects.

The work of the office can be described under the general rubric of design research. Design research is synthetic, incorporating information relative to a particular project from a diverse array of sources. Often characterized by its capacity to organize and visually represent complex arrays of information, design research deploys simulations and scenario-based projections to reveal latent potentials for future conditions. Design research is most often propositional, rather than simply empirical or descriptive. Design research projects stand simultaneously as propositions for intervention in the world, and as a form of knowledge about the world.

The Office imagines alternative and better futures through applied design research. It aspires to reduce the distance between design innovation and societal impact.

People

  • Mohsen Mostafavi
  • Charles Waldheim
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  • Aziz Barbar
  • Kira Clingen
  • Charlie Gaillard
  • Nono Martinez-Alonso
  • Seok Min Yeo
  • Jeffrey S. Nesbit
  • Boya Zhang
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  • Research Assistants
  • GSD Faculty
  • External Faculty
  • Partners
  • Alumni
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  • Mohsen Mostafavi, architect and educator, is the Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design and served as Dean of the GSD from 2008-2019. His work focuses on modes and processes of urbanization and on the interface between technology and aesthetics. He was formerly Dean of the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University and Chairman of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He has taught at numerous institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, and the Frankfurt Academy of Fine Arts (Städelschule). Dean Mostafavi serves on the steering committee of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and the board of the Van Alen Institute, and has served on the design committees of the London Development Agency (LDA) and the RIBA Gold Medal. He is a consultant on a number of international architectural and urban projects. His publications include On Weathering (MIT, 1993); Delayed Space (Princeton, 1994); Approximations (AA/MIT, 2002); Surface Architecture (MIT, 2002);Logique Visuelle (Idea Books, 2003); Landscape Urbanism: A Manual for the Machinic Landscape (AA Publications, 2004); Structure as Space (AA Publications, 2006); Ecological Urbanism (Lars Müller Publishers/Harvard GSD, 2010); Implicate & Explicate (Lars Müller Publishers, 2011); and Louis Vuitton: Architecture and Interiors (Rizzoli, 2011).

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  • Charles Waldheim is a Canadian-American architect and urbanist. Waldheim is John E. Irving Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and director in the Office for Urbanization. Waldheim’s research examines the relations between landscape, ecology, and contemporary urbanism. He is author, editor, or co-editor of numerous books on these subjects, and his writing has been published and translated internationally. Waldheim is recipient of the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome; the Visiting Scholar Research Fellowship at the Study Centre of the Canadian Centre for Architecture; the Cullinan Chair at Rice University; and the Sanders Fellowship at the University of Michigan.

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  • Aziz Joseph Barbar is a Lebanese architect and research associate in the Office for Urbanization. Barbar graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design with a Master in Design Studies in Technology and holds a Bachelor of Architecture with distinction from the Lebanese American University. His experience and research interests focus around topics of computational geometry, automated construction techniques, and data analysis in relation to building performance and urban form. Barbar has taught landscape architecture studios at the GSD. Prior to his work at Harvard, he worked for distinguished architectural and engineering offices in Lebanon and Austria.

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  • Kira Clingen is an American landscape designer and research associate at the Office for Urbanization. Clingen completed her MLA and MDes in Risk and Resilience at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She holds a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and B.A. in Policy Studies and Asian Studies from Rice University. She was a 2016 Thomas J. Watson Fellow and spent a year in Mauritius and Myanmar looking at climate adaptation strategies for coastal communities. Her work explores preparation, usable pasts and the role of speculative fiction in designing for climate changed landscapes. She has written several articles and book chapters on climate adaptation.

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  • Charlie Gaillard is an American strategist and research assistant in the Office for Urbanization. Gaillard completed his B.A. in English and Art History at Williams College. His work takes place at the intersection of language and visual culture. Prior to joining the Office, he held a position as a strategist at the design consultancy 2×4.

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  • Nono Martínez Alonso is a computational designer, architect, and machine learning engineer with a penchant for simplicity. His research focuses on the development of intuitive tools for creatives and how the collaboration between human and artificial intelligences can enhance the design process (suggestivedrawing.com). Nono graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design with a Master in Design Studies in Technology, hosts Getting Simple (gettingsimple.com/podcast) — a podcast about simple living, lifestyle design, technology, and culture — sketches things that call his attention (sketch.nono.ma), writes about enjoying a slower life, and records creative coding and machine intelligence tutorials (youtube.com/nonomartinezalonso).

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  • Seok Min Yeo is a Korean landscape urbanist and research associate at the Office for Urbanization. Yeo completed his MLA at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and his B.Arch at Syracuse University School of Architecture. Yeo’s work explores techniques of understanding and translating ecological phenomena into design methods, with a special interest in the relationship of the sun and the built form of the city. Before coming to Harvard, he held design positions at Payette and Safdie Architects.

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  • Jeffrey S. Nesbit is an American architect, urbanist, and postdoctoral research fellow in the Office for Urbanization. His research focuses on processes of urbanization, infrastructure, and the defense landscape. Currently, Nesbit is studying the 20th century spaceport launch complex at the intersection of architecture, aerospace history, and the rise of “technical lands.” He has written several journal articles and book chapters on infrastructure, urbanization, and the history of technology, and is co-editor of Chasing the City: Models for Extra-Urban Investigations (Routledge, 2018), Rio de Janeiro: Urban Expansion and Environment (Routledge, 2019), and New Geographies 11 Extraterrestrial (Actar, 2019).

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  • Boya Zhang is a Chinese architect and research associate in the Office for Urbanization. Zhang completed his MArch II at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and holds his MArch degree and BArch degree with Distinction from Tsinghua University. Zhang’s research interests focus on the interactions between urban form and its environs shaped by cultural and political forces. Prior to joining the Office, he worked for architectural offices in Beijing, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Boston.

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  • Celina Abba, MLA ’23

    Christopher Ball, MAUD ’23

    Fabiana Casale, MLA, MDes ’22

    Olani Ewunnet, MDes ’22

    Slide Kelly, MLA, MDes ’24

    Angela Moreno-Long, MLA ’22

    Arty Vartanyan, MLA, MAUD ’23

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  • Preston Scott Cohen, Gerald M. McCue Professor in Architecture

    Timothy Dekker, Lecturer in Landscape Architecture

    Jill Desimini, Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture

    Gareth Doherty, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Senior Research Associate

    Ann Forsyth, Professor of Urban Planning, Director of the Master in Urban Planning Program

    Jerold Kayden, Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design

    Ali Malkawi, Professor of Architectural Technology and Founding Director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities

    David Moreno-Mateos, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture

    Richard Peiser, Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development

    Chris Reed, Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture

    Holly W. Samuelson, Assistant Professor of Architecture

    Andres Sevtsuk, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning

    Bing Wang, Assistant Professor in Practice of Real Estate and the Built Environment

    Amy Whitesides, Design Critic in Landscape Architecture

    Andrew Witt, Assistant Professor in Practice of Architecture

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  • Rosetta Elkin, Academic Director of Landscape Architecture, Pratt Institute

    Andrew Fox, Professor, North Carolina State University and Co-Director of Coastal Dynamics Design Lab

    Teresa Gali-Izard, Chair of Landscape Architecture, ETH Zurich

    Jesse M. Keenan, Associate Professor of Real Estate, Tulane University

    Maggie Tsang, Wortham Fellow, Rice University

    Kongjian Yu, Professor of Landscape Architecture, Peking University

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  • Michael Rock / 2 × 4, New York

    Eric Rodenbeck / Stamen, San Francisco

    Eric de Broche des Combes / Luxigon, Paris

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  • Pedro Aparicio, Research Associate

    Aziz Barbar, Research Associate

    Christina Burkot, Administrator

    Bert deJonghe, Research Assistant

    Sara Favargiotti, Visiting Scholar

    Francesca Romana Forlini, Research Assistant

    Mariano Gomez-Luque, Research Fellow

    Mark Heller, Research Assistant

    Camila Huber Horta Barbosa, Research Assistant

    Daniel Ibañez, Research Fellow

    Gia Jung, Research Assistant

    Amir Karimpour, Research Assistant

    Mingyu Kim, Research Associate

    Sue Kim, Research Associate

    Helen Kongsgaard, Research Associate

    Christian Lavista, Research Assistant

    Jaewon Lee, Research Assistant

    Ting Liang, Research Assistant

    Xiuzheng Li, Research Associate

    Xun Liu, Research Associate

    Jiangpu Meng, Research Assistant

    Chris Merritt, Research Assistant

    Matthew Moffitt, Research Assistant

    Sam Naylor, Research Assistant

    Javier Ors-Austin, Research Assistant

    Mercedes Peralta, Research Associate

    Fletcher Phillips, Research Assistant

    Daniel Quesada Lombó, Research Associate

    Lane Raffaldini Rubin, Research Assistant

    Christopher Reznich, Research Assistant

    Luciana Saboia, Visiting Scholar

    Ruben Segovia, Research Associate

    Sudeshna Sen, Research Assistant

    Dana Shaikh Solaiman, Research Assistant

    Soo Ran Shin, Research Assistant

    Joshua Stevens, Research Assistant

    Isabel Strauss, Research Assistant

    Irene Toselli, Visiting Scholar

    Maggie Tsang, Research Assistant

    Ximena de Villafranca, Research Assistant

    Abbey Wallace, Research Assistant

    Zhaodi Wang, Research Assistant

    Zishen Wen, Research Assistant

    Lindsay Woodson, Research Assistant

    Weijia Wu, Research Assistant

    Sofia Xanthakou, Research Assistant

    Jessy Yang, Research Associate

    Erin Yook, Research Assistant

    Haoyu Zhao, Research Assistant

    Xin Zhong, Research Assistant

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