What the COVID-19 Pandemic Can Tell Us About Housing Justice and Climate Resilience

by Jay Wu Believe it or not, home purchasers are on a buying spree. According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, home sales during the pandemic were higher than they’ve been since 2006, the housing boom that preceded the Great Recession. For millennials earning stable incomes, low mortgage rates and reduced spending opportunities during the lockdown have been a boon for building wealth and settling into homes. But for those with precarious income, particularly people of color, we see a completely different reality—millions of Americans are behind on rent and mortgages, threatened with evictions and foreclosures.  Low-income communities …

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Student Profile: Lia Heintjes

Lia Heintjes is from Brooklyn, New York. Despite growing up in the city, she’s always loved being outdoors and doing hands-on fieldwork. That’s why she decided to take a leap and intern at a green roofing company between her junior and senior years of college. Coming from a major in biotechnology, where processes occur at a scale too small to see with the naked eye, contributing to the transformation of large construction zones into vibrant gardens was thrilling. Lia’s mentors managed projects from design, to construction, to maintenance, and she got to learn from every step. She bid on materials, helped …

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Student Profile: Mariana Moreira

Mariana Moreira is from São Paulo, Brazil. A talented illustrator with a knack for organizing spaces, she always had a passion for architecture. She inherited this from her father, who had always wanted to become an architect but could never afford the education. Together, they would visit mock-up apartments for sale, go home, and draw the floor plan of what they saw. As Mariana grew older, she became determined to fulfill her dream of pursuing an international degree related to architecture—both for herself, and for her father. She spent ten years after high school working in a variety of occupations, …

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Watery Edges with Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Pt II

The following is part 2 of Jay Wu’s interview with Catherine Seavitt Nordenson. Check out part 1 here! This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Q. I saw that you’re involved with Jamaica Bay resilience research. I would love to hear a bit about that work and how it relates to these questions you’ve posed. A. I had been working on issues of sea-level rise and resilience to storm surges since 2007. My husband, Guy Nordenson (an engineer), Adam Yarinsky (an architect), and I received a Latrobe Prize from the Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, a two-year research grant. We …

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Student Profile: Mashyat Tomory

Mashyat Tomory was born and raised in Bangladesh. She has witnessed and suffered the consequences of climate-change-driven floods, including infrastructural loss, health hazards, a lack of governance and education. Her hometown Dhaka often sinks underwater and canoes often replace cars.  Mashyat moved to New York in 2016 and earned her undergraduate degree in Coastal Environmental Studies from Stony Brook University. In Spring 2021, she began the City College of New York’s Sustainability in the Urban Environment program to learn how planning and policy could improve the lives of groups disproportionately harmed by climate change. Her interest in the environment started …

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Student Profile: Chelsea Encababian

Sometimes taking one class can completely change your point of view. That was the case for Chelsea Encababian, a Bronx native who went to college intending to major in Asian Studies and become a Japanese Translator. Despite her intentions, she decided to enroll in an Environmental Ethics course during her sophomore year of college, because she knew the instructor was incredibly passionate. This course ultimately influenced her college experience and future career more than she could have ever imagined.  Chelsea’s extracurriculars revolved around environmentalism and so did her coursework. After graduating with a double major in Asian Studies and Environmental …

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Watery Edges with Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Pt I

The following is a transcript of Jay Wu’s interview with Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Director of CCNY’s Graduate Landscape Architecture Program. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Q. How did you become interested in sustainability? A. I have a long history of traveling through various aspects of architecture and landscape architecture. I earned my undergraduate architecture degree at Cooper Union in New York and went on to Princeton for my graduate degree. I worked in Europe for a while — first in Paris, then the American Academy in Rome. It was there that I really started to see …

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Denise Hoffman Brandt: “Landscape Issues are the Confluence of Society, Culture and Environment”: Part II

The following is part 2 of Jay Wu’s interview with Denise Hoffman Brandt. Check out part 1 here! This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Q. Let’s talk about your book, City Sink: Carbon Cycle Infrastructure for our Built Environment. I was looking at the Google Books description and it said, “City Sink is a design research proposal for a meta-park of dispersed landscape infrastructure to boost carbon stocks and biomass, and through the formation of long-term sequestration, reservoirs for soil organic carbon in New York City and Long Island.” Let’s break that down a little. A. The whole project …

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Denise Hoffman Brandt: “Landscape Issues are the Confluence of Society, Culture and Environment”: Part I

The following is a transcript of Jay Wu’s interview with Denise Hoffman Brandt, Professor at CCNY’s Anne Spitzer School of Architecture and Director of Graduate Landscape Architecture from 2010 to 2020. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Q. Many of my classmates don’t come from either environmental or urban studies backgrounds, yet we’re all here studying Urban Sustainability. Given that context, I thought it was really interesting that you first earned degrees in art history and painting before studying landscape architecture. Why did you become a landscape architect after studying art, and how does that background inform …

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Introducing Our Big Sibling/Little Sibling Program!

A priority of our Sustainability Program is creating an interdisciplinary community of professionals addressing the many issues surrounding equitable climate change mitigation and adaptation in our cities. Especially in the current era of remote learning, creating that sense of community is more challenging and more critical now than ever before. That is why two of our students, Navida and Kathy, came to the Program with a spectacular idea to support our incoming students. The Sustainability Big Sibling/Little Sibling program will pair each new student with a current Sustainability Student or recent Program graduate based on interests to help guide them …

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