Vishaan Chakrabarti

Walter Wisznia Memorial Lecture


Marc Holliday Associate Professor of Real Estate Development, Columbia University GASPP
Partner, SHoP Architects

New on the scene as the most recent partner at SHoP Architects, Vishaan Chakrabarti is not new to the issues of urban design in the United States and far beyond. A native of Kolkata, India, Chakrabarti's interest in “dense, transit-rich, affordable urbanism” has led him down many, varied paths. As Marc Holliday Professor of Real Estate and Director of the Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE) at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Mr. Chakrabarti is very in tune with the current conditions of urban environments. Formerly the Director of New York City's planning department after 9-11, Mr. Chakrabarti facilitated huge infrastructure and design projects including extensive rezoning in Midtown Manhattan and expanding an entire subway line. Adding to the expanse of his experiences, Mr. Chakrabarti has also served as the Director of Urban Design at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill as well as a transportation planner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Recent interests have led to the “LoLo” proposal: a beautifully poetic and utopian 20 acre infill system to mediate dredging the Hudson River and connect Lower Manhattan to Governor's Island. After Hurricane Sandy, Mr. Chakrabarti was interviewed for input on flood and distaster protection methods; his suggestion included thoughtful examples from his extensive studies and traveling, and interestingly, cited Dutch floodgates as a potential method. 

Vishaan Chakrabarti is a licensed architect with a Master of Architecture from the University of California Berkeley while also holding a Master of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a dual Bachelors degree from Cornell University in Art History and Engineering. 

His wisdom, skills and observations will be published in a forthcoming book: “A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America” due later this spring. Within, Chakrabarti emphasizes the three pillars of urban real estate: financial, physical, transactional. He has been named by Metropolis Magazine as one of the top 12 “Game Changers” for 2012, as well as one of the “40 under 40” by Crain's. Mr. Chakrabarti serves on the board of the Architectural League of New York, Enterprise Community Partners and is an emeritus board member of the Friends of the High Line. 

Working now to “bring SHoP Architects into an age of global practice,” Mr. Chakrabarti is interested in the international impact of his firm's innovative and spectacular work in a interdisciplinary manner. We are curious to hear Vishaan's input on our own definition of urbanism in New Orleans, and welcome him. 


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