Columbia University to Conduct 2014 Urban Design Studio in Newburgh


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.

Photo “116th Street Columbia University Station” by Youngking11Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

12 Comment

  • It always creates a wonderful synergy when academia takes an interest or is a part of a city’s revitalization. This is wonderful to hear!

  • Great news! Beacon’s TOD committee (Transit Oriented Development) tried to make this happen here, but the mayor wasn’t interested.

  • This is the most exciting news I have heard since Andres Duany came here in 2006. And it doesn’t hurt that we now have a truly visionary and skilled city manager with substantial support of the city council. The timing seems just right – not too soon and not too late.

  • This sounds promising! The key may be taking a new and fresh look at what we are trying to solve here.. oh and inviting in some of the brightest minds in academia – that doesn’t hurt either!

  • I am so excited! After our “community conversation” this past Sunday hosted by Mount Saint Mary College and coordinated by Arianna Koudounas I agree our new city manager and the the growing group I see each time we gather will welcome this opportunity and weave it into the great work already in process!

  • Just to second, third, fourth and fifth all the comments above! Not only has the new City Manager–Michael Ciaravino–brought extraordinary energy and actual change in the City in a matter of weeks, that energy is being felt as far as Manhattan’s upper West Side. Hail Columbia!
    One small question: Will the urban design group have an actual brick and mortar location? Or will you be sidewalk soldiers? If the latter, please contact me at Although my heart is in the City of Newburgh–where I hope to be moving soon– my house is in the town of Newburgh and I have extra beds and a River Vu.

  • In the spirit of “engagement” and “new energy”, at what central location within the ‘City is this studio setting up temporary residence?

  • Great score to have these great creative minds spending time working within the City of Newburgh – this can only leave a positive impact.

  • Great news! Observing Newburgh’s role regionally is another way to focus attention on what makes it unique and relevant as an important hub. It something that needs to be explored whenever decisions are being made within the city. During this opportunity to develop our re-zoning, it would be prescient to heed the conclusions of this program instead of rushing into a document that was formulated behind closed doors.

  • “The best way for a person to appreciate it is to participate in the making of it.”
    This line is from the latest video on the work of MASS Design Group being accomplished in Haiti. I’m optimistic that the Columbia University studio’s focus on Newburgh is a precursor to more tangible endeavors such as the M.D.G.’s. Well worth watching, aside from being inspirational, the videos serve as a primer to how architecture can empower a community toward a positive change. Check it out…
    (thanks for the reply Cher)

  • Just got word they will be back again this semester…Fantastic news and I am sure we will hear more from Professor Moore and his students in the coming months..