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1.5 LU / 1.5 HSW

Several projects responding to sea level rise and future storms are being designed and constructed in and around New York, and especially in lower Manhattan. These projects are large, complex and traverse diverse and well-established neighborhoods with vibrant public spaces. This panel discussion will help explain the science behind the designs and the challenges of coordination across various agencies, as well as the importance of the stakeholder engagement process.

Gonzalo Cruz, ASLA, VP & Urbanism + Planning Lead, Design Principal, Metro New York, AECOM
Gwen Dawson, Senior Vice President of Real Property, Battery Park City Authority
Alexis Taylor, VP of Climate Resilience, NYC Economic Development Corporation
Joel Towers, Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design, Parsons School of Design

Varun Kohli, FAIA,
Principal & Director of Sustainability, Corgan

About the Speakers:

Gonzalo Cruz leads AECOM’s Urbanism + Planning Practice across the Americas and abroad and is Design Principal for the firm’s Metro New York office. His award-winning portfolio is driven by public realm design and incorporates traditional forms of practice as well as large-scale infrastructure. Cruz’s diverse professional accomplishments are rooted in his interdisciplinary background. In recent years, he has been creating innovative work at the intersection of large-scale infrastructure and placemaking, including South Battery Park City Resilience’s Wagner Park and Pier A Plaza, Brooklyn Bridge-Montgomery Coastal Resilience’s Open Space, and Hoboken Cove’s Waterfront Park. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the City College of New York and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Gwen Dawson is Battery Park City Authority’s Vice President of Real Property, responsible for the authority’s planning, design, construction, and facilities management activities. During her tenure, the authority has overseen the completed buildout of the Battery Park City development parcels and the restoration of historic Pier A, as well as the implementation of a broad capital program focused on the maintenance, restoration, and enhancement of Battery Park City infrastructure, public spaces, and related facilities and amenities.

Alexis Taylor is the VP of Climate Resilience at the NYC Economic Development Corporation. She is responsible for leading a portfolio of resilience and waterfront projects, which include neighborhood-scale projects like the Financial District & Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan, resilient waterfront greenway planning and design, and climate risk assessment tools to understand multi-hazard climate impacts across NYCEDC assets and projects and inform future planning priorities.

Varun Kohli has contributed to major architecture firms as well as his own studio, integrating environmental analytics and sustainable design strategies ranging from urban-scale resiliency and decarbonization to major commercial, educational, aviation, and mixed-use development projects, both domestically and internationally. As the Director of Sustainability at Corgan, Kohli provides leadership for high-performance projects and strives to maximize environmental sustainability and social equity while addressing climate change and resiliency. Kohli has collaborated with the Yale Center for Ecosystems + Architecture researchers on novel pedagogical models for environmental design and has taught courses at Harvard GSD and RPI. He is a frequent critic at Princeton School of Architecture and Penn Design, contributes to books and peer-reviewed journals, and speaks at conferences and forums. He recently authored a chapter in Energy Modeling in Architecture: A Practice Guide, published by RIBA and serves on the board of the Pokhrama Foundation, working to build a net-zero school to in a remote region of northern India.

Joel Towers is a Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design at Parsons School of Design in The School of Constructed Environments. He is also the Director of The Tishman Environment and Design Center, and a University Professor at The New School. He is also on the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC).  In 2009 he was appointed Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design.  He finished his second term in that role in 2019 and, after a decade of service, returned to the faculty.  With the intent to expand the school’s reach and research capabilities, Towers supported multiple industry leading design and research labs and expanded the ranks of full-time faculty.

COVID-19 vaccinations and face masks are strongly encouraged for all visitors. Read our full Health and Safety Protocol here.  

Organized by
AIANY Committee on the Environment
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