Student Q&A: Jacob Koch (MUP ’14)

Hometown Chicago, IL

Undergraduate school/major Yale University, Political Science

What was your work experience/background before coming to the GSD?

I worked for EMBARQ Brasil in Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on sustainable transportation and slum-upgrading projects and then worked as a strategic planner in the homeless program at the U.S. Veteran’s Administration in West Los Angeles.

Why did you decide to pursue planning as a career?

Cities are our future and our greatest hope for a sustainable civilization on this planet.  If that isn’t worth spending your career working on, what is?

What made you decide to come to the GSD?

My background is more in policy and I wanted to understand and develop skills in the physical planning/design side of urban planning, and that is what the GSD offered compared to other schools.

What are your main interests in planning and concentration area?

I am primarily interested in rapidly developing cities, informal/slum/subaltern urbanism, mobility/transport systems, and hybrid infrastructures.

What has been the most surprising aspect of the GSD?

The time-intensity of graphics software for designers.  The time that the designers in the building spend in front of a monitor to produce a drawing is incredible.

What did you do over the summer? How did that add to your education and goals?

I got support from the GSD and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies to spend 2 months in São Paulo working on research projects related to risk and governance, water management and the favelas, and resource extraction urbanism.  I gained valuable research experience and exposure to an evolving area of interest.

What are your career ambitions?

Make cities happier, healthier, more prosperous places for people to live.

Anything else?

One of my favorite parts of the GSD is the lectures/speakers/exhibitions.  These reflect and produce a critical part of the broader interdisciplinary conversation going on throughout the building and the wider professional worlds.