The Future of Zone A

New York Neighborhoods on the Frontline of Climate Change

A Moderated Panel Discussion

THURSDAY JANUARY 10 2013 | 7:00PM | GREAT HALL | The Cooper Union Foundation Building | 7 East 7th Street
*please note the location for this event has changed to the Great Hall

Two Bridges Neighborhood Council in collaboration with the Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design & the Architectural League of New York will convene a public discussion to explore issues and ideas for the future of coastal New York. In the Two Bridges neighborhood, and across the five boroughs, vulnerable, low-income populations housed along a high-risk waterfront makes for a challenging social, planning & design problem.

  • Is it possible, and on what scale is it practical, to deploy ecologically sound design (and policy) to mitigate adverse climate impacts on waterfront communities?
  • Given that real estate interests drive the planning of the city, are there “market based” solutions that can be ecologically sound & socially responsible, e.g., not resulting in wholesale displacement of low-income populations?

Panelists with expertise in urban ecology, design, and community planning will present examples of current work and thinking about these issues, followed by a provocative and necessary discussion.


Tom Angotti, Ph.D., is Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development. His recent books include The New Century of the Metropolis, New York For Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate, which won the Davidoff Book Award, and Accidental Warriors and Battlefield Myths. He is co-editor of Progressive Planning Magazine, and Participating Editor for Latin American Perspectives and Local Environment. He is actively engaged in community and environmental justice issues in New York City.

Kerri Culhane is Associate Director of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, where she leads Two Bridges’ engagement in community planning and neighborhood preservation. Over the past 15 years, Kerri has consulted on projects ranging from detailed documentation of historic architecture to landscape-scale conservation efforts; urban design integrates her interests in natural resources conservation, cultural resources preservation, and the cultural landscape. She holds an M.A in Architectural History and Historic Preservation from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.A. in Sustainable Landscape Planning and Design from the Conway School.

Susannah C. Drake, RLA, RA, is the Principal of dlandstudio pllc, an award winning multidisciplinary design firm. dlandstudio’s public projects include the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park™, the Brooklyn Bridge Pop-up Park, BQGREEN park in Williamsburg, HOLD System in Flushing Bay, and the security for the New York City Police Department headquarters in lower Manhattan. dlandstudio partnered with ARO on the 2010 MoMA rising currents exhibition proposing a transformation of lower Manhattan’s street infrastructure and coastline to increase city climate change resilience. dlandstudio is the recipient of National and International design urban design awards from the AIA, ASLA and Chicago Athenaeum among others.

Susannah received a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree from Dartmouth College and MArch and MLA degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is the recipient of grants from the Graham Foundation, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission,  The James Marston Fitch Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts for research on campus landscapes and large scale urban infrastructure projects. Susannah is the former President and Trustee of The New York ASLA, Trustee of the Van Alen Institute and visiting studio professor at the Cooper Union and Harvard University. She is the author of Elastic Landscape: Seeding Ecology in Public Space & Urban Infrastructure which was recently published in the collection of essays entitled Infrastruktururbanismus.

Alexander Felson, RLS, Ph.D., is an urban ecologist, a registered landscape architect and an assistant professor at Yale University. He is jointly appointed between the School of Architecture and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research focuses on integrating ecological understanding and research methods with urban design and land development strategies to study and shape the feedbacks, adaptive capacity, vulnerability, and resilience of coupled human and natural systems. Felson encourages place-based approaches to urban ecology and through his design and planning projects, links scientific analysis of urban landscape functions with the various design and planning drivers of the built environment and land development. Felson transitioned from professional practice to academia in 2009. In this capacity, he also oversees the joint degree program between Forestry and Architecture. In his first year, he founded the Urban Ecology and Design Lab (UEDLAB) — a dedicated program for teaching and applying urban ecological theory and methods through actionable science. The UEDLAB studies how patterns and processes at local and regional scales are shaped by, and shape, multi-scale processes and patterns and complex adaptive systems that manifest at the regional and even global scale. The Lab partners with the Nature Conservancy for the development of the Long Island Coastal Resilience Plan.  The Lab’s work was featured in the recent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, entitled “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream”.  His team’s work with AECOM and Snohetta Architects were finalist for the National Parks Department Union Square on the National Mall.   

In 2005 Felson developed a novel approach for integrating ecological experimentation into the creative design process –“designed experiments.”  Designed experiments are included in several graduate teaching programs in architecture and planning. They embed research experiments within the urban landscape as a means of melding scientific experimentation with urban planning and design. They provide a process whereby ecologists, working with designers, can situate manipulative experiments in urban areas and generate robust scientific data that can help inform and adaptively manage urban ecosystems. Designed experimentation advocates collaboration between ecologists and designers, producing a proactive approach to studying, shaping and designing cities.

He has lectured and published widely and has been awarded several ASLA Honor Awards for his work. He received a B.A. and an M.S. from Wisconsin-Madison, an M.L.A. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

Cassim Shepard (Moderator) is the founding editor of Urban Omnibus, an online publication of the Architectural League of New York. Trained in documentary filmmaking, urban geography and urban planning, he produces non-fiction media about cities, buildings, and places. He has exhibited film and video work at the Musée de la civilisation, Quebec; the Cineteca di Bologna; the Salone del Mobile, Milan; the Venice Architecture Biennale 2006; the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon; the Kemper Art Museum in St Louis; and the United Nations. His most recent video project. “Informal Urbanisms,” chronicled life in six informal settlements around the world for the Cooper-Hewitt exhibition Design with the Other 90%: CITIES. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture at Columbia University and a Poiesis Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University.

Claire Weisz, AIA, is a founding principal of WXY, an award winning practice based in NYC.  With her partners Mark Yoes, Layng Pew and Adam Lubinsky, WXY focuses on innovative approaches to public space, structures and cities. They have received the League Prize and an Emerging Voice in 2011 from the Architecture League. Recent and ongoing public work includes the redesign of Astor Place and a variety of work on the waterfront including Far Rockaway Park, the Spring Street Sanitation Garage, Transmitter Park and Pier, Pier 26’s Boathouse/Restaurant, The Battery’s Seaglass and the latest study for Pier 40. Current planning efforts include Civic Action with The Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park, GCT/East Midtown’s Next 100 re-imagined with MAS, a study for the Brooklyn Tech Triangle and the East River Blueway Plan.  She co-founded with Andrea Woodner The Design Trust for Public Space and is currently on faculty at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and a visiting critic at the University of Toronto. She has served on numerous design award and competition juries and was co-editor of AD magazine’s “Extreme Sites: Greening the Brownfield” issue. Frequently cited in the media and professional circles, Claire is a registered architect in California, New York and New Jersey.


For additional information, please contact Kerri Culhane, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, 212.566.2729,