The Centre for Conscious Design

Building Resilient Communities | Workshop

October 15, 2019 – 9:00 am
Pratt Brooklyn
Event Recordings (Listed for Members)

How our cities fare under environmental, social, or political stress is a measure of their resilience and ability to protect and support individuals and communities. Whilst resilience in urbanism usually refers to how built infrastructure can cope with natural disasters and climate change, Day 1 of the Conscious Cities Festival will focus on the resilience of the city’s social fabric.

How can we design cities to promote social cohesion that not only ensures communities thrive through challenges, but also that individuals aren’t left behind? The day’s events will propose paths forward through case studies and the development of science-informed architecture, urban design, and decision making.


Designers, community planners and organizers, advocates and activists, decision- and policy-makers, and behavioral scientists will present forward-thinking approaches to share knowledge and problem-solve in this festival workshop.

Workshop goals

  • Create a dialogue between researchers, practitioners, community planners and decision-makers reaching practical applications for impact-driven design.
  • Establish a Community of Practice focused on each festival thematic which activates and sets up engagement into the future.
  • Create outputs from each session that can act as both a resource and a catalyst for action within city agencies.

We will be joined by representatives of New York’s City Hall and other city agencies interested in the latest innovation in planning and engagement with local communities.

This event is part of an event series

Hosted by

Organised by

Gernot Riether is the Director of the School of Architecture and Associate Professor at the College of Architecture and Design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). He also serves on the board of Directors at the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU), an NPO affiliated with UN Habitat and the U.N.. Riether’s research explores the relationship between public urban space and information technology. His research projects have been funded by the AIA, the Austrian government, NPOs such as MainX24, material fabricators, the construction industry and universities. Riether’s work is featured in many books on digital fabrication. He is the author of several book chapters and of more than 40 refereed papers and articles. His most recent book Urban Machines, Public Space in a Digital Culture, co-authored with Marcella Del Signore was published in 2019.

Karen Kubey is an urbanist specializing in housing and health and a Fellow in Design for Spatial Justice at the University of Oregon. She is the editor of Housing as Intervention: Architecture towards Social Equity (Architectural Design, 2018) and served as the first executive director of the Institute for Public Architecture. Kubey co-founded the New York chapter of Architecture for Humanity (now Open Architecture/New York) and co-founded and led the New Housing New York design competition. Her work bridges the disciplines that shape the built environment, bringing together architects, policy and finance experts, and community leaders. Holding degrees in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley and the Columbia University Graduate School for Architecture, Preservation and Planning (GSAPP), Kubey began her career as a designer of below-market housing.

At ioby (in our backyards) Jennifer manages the City Action Strategist Team with staff located in Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Memphis. She guides them as they share ioby’s crowdfunding platform and resources to support local leaders working for neighborhood change. Prior to joining ioby, Jennifer was the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Trailnet in St. Louis where she oversaw The Calm Streets Project, built strategic partnerships, and assisted with advocacy campaigns. During her time in Los Angeles, Jennifer worked at Livable Places as an advocate for more affordable housing, transportation options, and quality public spaces for Angelenos.

Illya Azaroff, AIA, founding principal +LAB architect PLLC and Assoc. Professor, New York City College of Technology (CUNY), a leader in disaster mitigation, resilient planning strategies and design with more than 25 years experience. He consults with design teams across the US and the world. Currently, he is working with the city of Houston on Vision 2020, Puerto Rico, USVI, Kalinago first people of the Island of Dominica, Hau’ula community in Hawai’I and the City of Oakland Park Florida. He recently worked with FEMA/ANCR on developing community resilience benchmarks well as with the City of New York on the 2019 Hazard Mitigation Plan. Illya is a founding co-chair of the DfRRDesign for Risk and Reconstruction committee, contributing to the 3rd edition of the AIA Disaster Assistance Handbook. He is an instructor with NDTPC-National Disaster Training Preparedness Center in Hawaii and is certified trainer for CalEMA post disaster assessment (SAP).

Jimena is interested in planning as an interdisciplinary field that explores the interaction of people and place: how we build the spaces we live in and how we organize to do so. At Hester Street, she has managed projects that involve research and analysis of topics as varied as code enforcement, zoning and mental health, as well as capacity building for community-based organizations and local governments. She is currently working on Cities RISE, a project to embed equity considerations and community engagement in code enforcement processes in 10 cities in New York State. Prior to Hester Street, Jimena worked on advocacy for transportation projects with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, focusing especially on transit-oriented development and reducing car use. She holds a Master in Urban Planning from Harvard University, where she focused on learning about equitable development, design and real estate.

Dr. David Abramson is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s College of Global Public Health and the director of the research program on Population Impact, Recovery and Resilience (PiR2). His research employs a social ecological framework to examine the health consequences of disasters, individual and community resilience, and long-term recovery from acute collective stressors. His work has focused on population health consequences, interactions of complex systems, and risk communication strategies associated with hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Joplin tornado, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, H1N1, and Zika, among other natural, technological, and man-made disasters. Before joining NYU’s faculty, Dr. Abramson was the Deputy Director at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute.

Vincent Gauthier is Program Manager for the Health is Everyone’s Business Initiative at the UN Global Compact. He works with companies to set health strategies, policies, and initiatives that have benefits for the health of the planet and people. Prior to working at the Global Compact, Vincent completed his Masters of Environmental Management at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

Shannon McAuliffe is a Vice President at ideas42 focusing on safety & justice. ideas42 is a nonprofit behavioral science consulting firm that applies cutting-edge behavioral insights to some of the world’s toughest problems to increase social impact. Shannon has more than 20 years of experience working deeply in the justice system. For 15 years, she worked as a public defender in federal and state courts in California and Massachusetts. Shannon then served as the Director of Roca Boston, an innovative, data-driven non-profit specializing in breaking the cycle of incarceration, violence, and poverty amongst emerging adults who are at high-risk of recidivism and returning to prison. She holds a BA from the University of San Diego in Communication and English, a JD from Suffolk Law School, an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government, and Bar Membership in California and Massachusetts.

Manuela is a Senior Planner at the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP). Within the Zoning Division, Manuela serves as the project manager for Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency, a zoning initiative that encourages the adoption of building-scale resiliency measures within the City’s floodplain. Prior to DCP, she worked in Brazil as an architect and a city planner and was a CNPQ research scholar, specialized in design for aging and ethnographic landscapes. Manuela earned her Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University and her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Universidade Estadual de Londrina in Brazil.

Daniele Santucci is a practicing architect, building scientist, and university lecturer at the chair of Building Technology and Climate Responsive Design at the Technical University of Munich. His research expertise is in environmental engineering and sustainable design focusing on energy modelling, performance driven design workflows and environmental sensing in both urban and architectural scale. His principal research line is focusing on urban microclimate and outdoor comfort in urban space. He co-developed the concept of Climatewalks: city walks with portable georeferenced sensing devices that allow mapping microclimatic conditions at a human level by relating physiology, psychology and environmental conditions. Daniele has been appointed visiting researcher at the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Javier William Lopez is the Chief Strategy Officer for the Red Hook Initiative (RHI). As RHI’s first Chief Strategy Officer Javier’s current portfolio includes but not limited to: Violence Prevention without Police, Health and Housing, Red Hook Neighborhood Farms, Red Hook Wi-Fi Expansion, Red Hook Houses Health and Housing Campaign, and Red Hook House Capital Restoration Campaign. Javier is part of the local and national “Gun Violence Is A Public Health Issue” movement via supporting new research, program planning and the communications reframing needed to re-classify how society can appropriately respond to Gun Violence in African and Latinx Diaspora communities. Javier, along with many others in the “movement,” views the incidence of Gun Violence in African and Latinx Diaspora neighborhoods is as a result of “unsaid” and “said” racist ideas and policies that have exacerbated the premature mortality rates for members of these communities living in the United States.

Andreas Tjeldflaat is a Norwegian architect and design engineer based in New York City. He is the director of Framlab, a New York City and Bergen-based social innovation studio, and has previously worked with leading design firms in Oslo, Copenhagen, Taipei, and New York City. In addition, Andreas has taught at institutions such as Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the New York Institute of Technology.

Tahilia J. Rebello is trained as a neuroscientist, and completed her doctorate in the field of Developmental Psychobiology and Pharmacology at Columbia University. She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Program Manager of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Global Mental Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She is on the Steering Committee for the consortium of Global Mental Health Programs at Columbia and serves as the Project Coordinator for WHO’s Global Clinical Practice Network (GCPN) – the largest practice-based research networks for mental health in the world, consisting of over 15,000 health professionals from 158 countries who have been actively participating in research studies aimed at developing the next version of WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). She manages the development and implementation of global field studies aimed at enhancing the clinical utility, global applicability, and reliability of the ICD-11 diagnostic guidelines for mental and behavioural disorders which will be used by clinicians around the world. She is also part of the global team of scientists and clinicians who are now developing a comprehensive training program for global clinicians that will facilitate the implementation of the new ICD-11.

Amy Chester works to create solutions for complex issues at the nexus of urbanism, politics, design, and community engagement. She is the managing director of Rebuild by Design, bringing its collaborative research and design approach to address climate challenges in cities in the U.S. and around the world. Chester worked for NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg where she was part of the team who created PlaNYC, the Mayor’s sustainability agenda, and as the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Legislative Affairs. Previously, Chester has worked at the NY City Council and more than a dozen electoral and issue-based campaigns, as well as working to build affordable housing to low income New Yorkers.

Dr. Sofia B. Pertuz is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that protects the emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults. With over 20 years of experience in strategic planning, critical incident management, and inclusive excellence in higher education, Dr. Pertuz serves as an adjunct faculty member at Hofstra University. Dr. Pertuz has been an invited speaker for international audiences on topics in leadership, change management, social justice, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Her research focuses on Latinx leadership and culturally responsive mental health resources. Dr. Pertuz is the founder and moderator of the Latinas Completing Doctoral Degrees online doctoral support network with over 6700 actively engaged members. Dr. Pertuz has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY New Paltz and earned a master’s degree and PhD in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy from Seton Hall University.

Jeanne DuPont is the founder of RISE Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity formerly Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. She has worked to inspire Rockaway residents to care for their environment and community through civic engagement and youth development programs. For nearly 15 years, Ms. DuPont has worked closely with the Rockaway community and city agencies to redevelop underutilized public land for public programs to advance the physical, economic and social sustainability in the Rockaway Peninsula. Through her work, Jeanne has focused on building RISE as a thriving resource for this underserved community, by leading large scale community planning efforts to establish public space to serve local families and advocate for environmental justice in the Rockaways.

Kizzy Charles-Guzman is a Deputy Director at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Resiliency, leading efforts to strengthen neighborhoods, community organizations, small businesses, and social infrastructure so that they are ready to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change. Kizzy engages in citywide sustainability and resiliency planning efforts to ensure that social, public health and environmental justice priorities are integrated into adaptation plans and environmental policies. She led the development of Cool Neighborhoods NYC, the City’s first comprehensive strategy to address the impacts of rising temperatures and heat waves. She received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award, and a Champion of Change Award from the U.S. White House in recognition of her work. She is a graduate of Carleton College and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Anvit is an aspiring social entrepreneur and passionate changemaker with 6 years of experience leading innovations for the greater good and empathizing with the stakeholders to design solutions for societal impact across industries- manufacturing, retail, healthcare, governments, and, non-profits. He has an MBA from The Johns Hopkins University with dual specializations in Healthcare Management and Enterprise Risk Management. He was a fellow at the City Government of Baltimore, worked at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and consulted a social entrepreneur in Rwanda, for an inventor at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and for the Children’s Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Alexandra Sanyal is pursuing her Masters in Design Studies in the field of Critical Conservation, at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her work revolves around constructed narratives of heritage and investigates the tensions between progress and tradition and the union of urban identity, preservation, and politics in post-colonial countries, particularly India. She seeks to answer how, why, and under whose hegemony does historic preservation occur by scrutinizing conflicting institutions and ideologies of power. Largely, her research aims to understand socio-political arcs of cultural coexistence in Indian cities and beyond.

Ethan Kent works to support public space organizations, projects, and leadership around the world to build a global placemaking movement. Ethan has traveled to more than 900 cities and 60 countries to advance the cause of leading urban development with inclusive public spaces and placemaking. In 2019 he co-founded PlacemakingX to network, amplify, and accelerate placemaking leadership and impact globally. Ethan has been integral to the development of placemaking as a transformative approach to economic development, environmentalism, transportation planning, governance, resilience, social equity, design, digital space, and innovation.

Ifeoma Ebo is an urban designer and strategist who strives to be a catalyst for social justice and design activism while addressing challenges of the urban milieu. As the Director of Strategic Design Initiatives with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, she leads interagency design and built environment initiatives exploring the use of design to address public safety and social justice in marginalized communities across NYC. She is an advising member of the NYC-based collective BlackSpace – a coalition of Black urban professionals focused on supporting Black communities in developing new tools for cultural preservation in the midst of gentrification. Ifeoma is a 2016 Forefront Fellow of the NYC Urban Design Forum and Next City Vanguard Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and a Masters in City Planning and Urban Design from MIT.

Alexis is Director of Health for Sidewalk Labs and is based in the Toronto office. Before joining Sidewalk, Alexis worked at MaRS, North America’s largest urban innovation hub, where she lead the Centre for Impact Investing’s health practice and supported the Health Systems Innovation team. Alexis also has experience working as a management consultant in North America and the UK, a civil servant with the National Health Service in England, and an entrepreneur where she was focused on workplace health and well-being. Alexis is a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and completed her MBA at London Business School, both with distinction. She is also a proud mother to three awesome kids.

Theresa Cassano is the Director of the Supportive Housing Loan Program at New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), where she coordinates low-interest loan financing to support the development of approximately 900 units of permanent supportive housing each year. Theresa began her career at HPD as an Urban Fellow and project manager, and then worked at HR&A Advisors as a senior analyst. In this role, she worked with private and public sector clients to evaluate feasibility of affordable housing opportunities across the country. After returning to HPD in 2016, she has been actively involved in the launch of the NYC 15/15 service and rental assistance programs as well as continued to support the new construction and preservation of supportive housing in all five boroughs.

Takeesha White has over 10 years of progressive experience, in public health education and mental health promotion and service delivery in national and international settings. Takeesha has been an active participant in improving partnerships within the five boroughs to ensure health equity and healthier environments while naming racism as a root cause for poor health outcomes. She was also a leader in the design and strategic development of Mental Health By Design and the Founding Director of Friendship Benches NYC a non-traditional approach to closing treatment gaps by employing Peers as community mental health workers to deliver counseling at the neighborhood level. Ms. White led community connectivity and digital strategies for mental health promotion for Thrive NYC and behavioral health strategy development at the Center for Health Equity.