After much deliberation, the graduate urban design program at Columbia University has chosen the City of Newburgh for their fall 2014 semester urban design studio! There will be approximately 45 students from 20+ countries and 6-8 faculty all focusing their attention on the city. Professor Justin Garrett Moore and his fellow faculty felt that Newburgh and its larger Hudson River Valley context would be a rich place for their students to investigate and hopefully contribute to generating new ideas for the city’s potential. Although Newburgh has its challenges, they felt the energy, engagement and momentum that seem to be building here has made them feel that it will be a good choice. It will be the smallest city ever studied for an urban design studio by the program at Columbia.
All of the 45 students in the program have architecture or landscape architecture professional degrees and are doing graduate/advanced study to learn urban design and its more interdisciplinary focus. Some studios focus on single issues such as architecture, historic preservation, or transportation. However, this studio will be focusing on issues of a more larger scale including: housing and social dynamics, economic development, infrastructure, environmental quality, open space and mobility networks, etc. The fall semester of the program is also focused on the regional relationships of cities. So while students would work with a focus in Newburgh, their projects and responsibilities will expand to larger scales – environmental, social, economic, infrastructure, etc., of how Newburgh fits or operates within the Hudson Valley and NYC metro regions.
The results from the design studio will be presented at a final project review at Columbia University, and possibly in Newburgh. While there will not be any enforcement of the recommendations the students make, the city and its stakeholders will have the option to take into consideration any advice offered and carry it out.
Justin’s interest in the City of Newburgh came about from the recent New York Times article, as did the new City Manager. We can only hope that this new design studio will cause more people to discover Newburgh and bring new energy and creativity to the city. To learn more about how urban design studios work, you can check out the studio from last year done in New Rochelle.