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
NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives
As Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, Deputy Mayor Thompson is responsible for spearheading a diverse collection of priority initiatives. This expansive portfolio includes Democracy NYC, the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises Program, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, the Office of the Census, and the Young Men’s Initiative. Additionally, his agency portfolio includes the Department of Youth and Community Development; the Department of Small Business Services; the Commission on Human Rights; the Department of Veterans’ Services; the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities; and the NYC Public Engagement Unit.
Prior to joining the de Blasio administration, Thompson was an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy published in 2006 by Oxford University Press. He has also written and worked extensively on community health planning, race and community development, and the politics of black economic advancement.
Visiting Scholar, School of Architecture, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Sarah Williams Goldhagen writes, lectures, and consults about the design of architecture and landscapes, cities and urban design, infrastructure and public art – all the things that constitute the built environment. The author of the widely discussed Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives (HarperCollins, 2017).
Goldhagen is a contributing editor at Art in America and Architectural Record; for many years, she was the New Republic’s architecture critic, and taught for a decade at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Goldhagen has been an invited guest lecturer at numerous universities and colleges in the US and Europe, and her award-winning essays appear regularly in professional and general-interest publications.
Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design
Diane E. Davis is the Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Development and Urbanism and former Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. She currently co-directs the GSD’s Risk and Resilience Track in the Master of Design Studies Program. Trained as a sociologist, Davis’s research interests includes the politics of urban policy, comparative urban governance, socio-spatial practice in rapidly urbanizing locales, and the coping and adaptation strategies adopted by citizens and authorities to push back against violence and other vulnerabilities.
She is author of Urban Resilience in Situations of Chronic Violence, a report prepared for USAID that examines spatial strategies for violence reduction in 7 cities around the world. Davis has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Planning Education and Research, City and Community, and the Journal of Latin American Studies, is an active member of the American Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). Her most recent book is Transforming Urban Transport (Oxford University Press, 2018).
Dean of the Pratt School of Architecture
Professor Harriet Harriss (RIBA, PFHEA, Ph.D.) is a qualified architect and Dean of the Pratt School of Architecture in Brooklyn, New York. Her teaching, research and writing focus upon pioneering new pedagogic models for design education, as captured in Radical Pedagogies: Architectural Education & the British Tradition, and for widening participation in architecture to ensure it remains as diverse as the society it seeks to serve, a subject she interrogates in her book, A Gendered Profession.
Dean Harriss has won various awards for teaching excellence including a Brookes Teaching Fellowship, a Higher Education Academy Internationalisation Award, a Churchill Fellowship, and two Santander awards. Before joining the RCA, she led the MArchD in Architecture at Oxford Brookes and was appointed a Principal Lecturer of Student Experience. Dean Harriss was awarded a Clore Fellowship for cultural leadership (2016-17) and elected to the European Association of Architectural Education Council in summer 2017. Across both academe and industry, Dean Harriss has spoken across a range of media channels (from the BBC to TEDx) on the wider issues facing the built environment.
Chief Urban Designer at NYC’s Department of City Planning
Claudia Herasme is the Chief Urban Designer and Director of the Urban Design Division at New York City’s Department of City Planning. The Department of City Planning’s mission is to plan the future of the city of New York. One of the core values of the mission is a concern for the livability of New York City’s neighborhoods and quality of the urban design that shapes them. As the department works to advance comprehensive neighborhood planning and the review of land use applications, the urban design office is charged with providing a clear and consistent perspective and advocacy in all matters that will affect the public realm.
Senior Vice President at Project for Public Spaces
Cynthia Nikitin has led numerous large-scale multi-sectoral place-based community-led projects during her twenty seven years with Project for Public Spaces. Cynthia’s technical expertise stretches from the development of downtown master plans and transit facility and station area enhancement projects, to the creation of corridor-wide transportation and land use strategies, to the development of creative placemaking initiatives, the coalescing of government buildings, libraries and cultural institutions into civic centers, using placemaking to create safer and healthier cities and upgrade informal settlements in the developing world.
Currently, she is developing Resilient Places, a new PPS initiative that promotes a place-based people-centered approach to disaster recovery and mitigation which seeks to build social resilience and civic infrastructure.
Director of the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency
Jainey K. Bavishi currently serves as the Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Resiliency, where she leads the City’s OneNYC resiliency program, preparing the city for the impacts of climate change. She previously served as the Associate Director for Climate Preparedness at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In this role, she led the implementation of the climate preparedness pillar of the President's Climate Action Plan. In the final year of the Obama Administration, she was responsible for embedding and institutionalizing climate resilience considerations across Federal programs and policies; advancing climate equity to address the disproportionate impacts of climate change on low-income and other vulnerable communities; and developing innovative approaches to climate adaptation finance.
Prior to this, Jainey served as Executive Director of R3ADY Asia-Pacific based in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she was responsible for initiating, expanding and managing the start-up public-private partnership, which focused on enhancing disaster risk reduction and resilience in the Asia-Pacific region. Jainey has a Master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bachelor’s degree in public policy and cultural anthropology from Duke University.