Harvard Doctor of Design students constitute a group of select students with a great variety of research interests. The program is intended for persons who wish to enter teaching, research and advanced careers in the theory and practice of architecture, landscape architecture, urban form and technology; or the analysis and development of cities, landscapes and regions with emphasis on social, economic, ecological, transportation and infrastructural systems. Further, students may wish to conduct research in the area of digital technologies within such context.
In addition to their studies, doctoral candidates are involved in many aspects of the school. Among other activities, they hold Research or Teaching Fellowships and organize speaker series, conferences,and journals.
Click here for recent DDes graduates.
Suleiman Alhadidi is an architect and engineer. He is a researcher at the Material Processes and Systems Group (MaP+S) at the GSD. His practice and research work aims to design and build more efficient, intelligent, and sustainable buildings and cities.
He practiced architecture in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East and worked before at several well-known architectural research institutions and practices such as: MIT Media Lab, Melbourne University, RMIT University, SIAL, Coop Himmelblau, BVN, and HASSELL. During 2016–2018, Suleiman took an elected position in the administration council of The Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia. He has served as reviewer and contributor for several architecture journals and conferences such as ACADIA, the Journal of Architectural Education and CAADRIA. He authored several peer-reviewed publications and book chapters on architecture, urban design and technology.
During the last 15 years, Suleiman received more than 25 awards for his research, design and academic achievements. Suleiman is currently one of the American Australian Association 2018 Scholars. His doctoral research at Harvard focuses on robotic buildings with an aim to provide affordable smart buildings that encompasses environmental and spatial design, in particular, he is investigate the current need for flexible co-working spaces and the understanding of the future of workspace. Being a multidisciplinary advocate of architecture, real estate investment, computation and engineering, he aims to build transformable spaces using robotic technologies and smart methods.
Sulaiman Alothman is a third-year Doctor of Design student. His research focuses on using data-driven machine learning models to empower the design process in robotic fabrication. His research includes using robotics for 3D printing with the aid of sensory technologies and machine learning to optimize workflows for designers. His research— published in ACADIA and ROB|ARCH conferences— is supported by the Material System and Processes (MaP+S) group and sponsored by the Kuwait Foundation of the Advancement of Science (KFAS).
Sulaiman is a co-founder of Morphospace studio, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Kuwait. He has coordinated and co-directed the design of several digitally-driven projects and interactive installations in Kuwait. He also co-directed the Architectural Association Visiting School (AAVS), a design-and-built workshop for constructing inhabitable pavilions that are digitally designed and manufactured.
Sulaiman holds a Master in Design Studies (MDes) program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He also holds a Master of Architecture (MArch) in Emergent Technologies and Design from the Architectural Association and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona.
Rawan Alsaffar is a landscape architect, researcher and second-year doctoral student. Her work lies at the intersection of landscape, infrastructure and human ecology. In particular, her current research explores the role of desalination infrastructure in the production of landscapes in water-scarce regions and its impact on future energy and climate scenarios.
Prior to joining the DDes Program, Rawan worked at multiple landscape architecture offices, such as Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Sasaki. Her professional work has focused on resilience frameworks around the world including the US, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, with an interest in water as a tool of development and a risk factor to coastal and arid environments. Her past research has explored the aesthetic and political concerns of energy and infrastructure through ecologic narratives with work exhibited around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Rawan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from Rhode Island School of Design, and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) and Design Studies (MDes ULE) from Harvard Graduate School of Design with a full scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education of Kuwait for academic excellence.
Spyridon Ampanavos is a doctoral candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and a researcher at the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC). He holds a Diploma in Architectural Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece and a Master in Design Studies in Technology with Distinction from Harvard GSD. An architect and computational designer, Spyridon is exploring ways in which humans and artificial intelligence systems engage in a synergetic design process. In his doctoral thesis he is using machine learning methods and generative processes to support environmental building design in the early design phase.
Spyridon has worked with Adobe Research to create a new experience for browsing fonts through a machine learning-generated visual organization, and with Autodesk to develop machine learning applications for structural design and real-time energy prediction. He has taught several J-term courses at GSD investigating applications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Design and Art, with gentle technical introductions. He has previously worked as an architect in Greece and has taught design and programming at Nuvu Studio innovation school in Cambridge, MA.
Other research interests and skills include Human – Computer Interaction, Data Visualization, Data Science. His research at CGBC involves Augmented Reality for real time visualization, inspection and control of smart buildings’ operation (House Zero).
Aleksandar Bauranov is a licensed civil engineer and doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he explores the relationship between cities, mobility and autonomous vehicles.
Aleksandar was a researcher at NEXTOR, an aviation research institute, where he worked on projects led by the FAA and NASA on the modernization and automation of the National Airspace System. Coupled with his experience in transportation planning and urban design, Aleksandar has a keen perspective on the challenges of integrating autonomous vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles into the urban environment. His other recent projects tackled a variety of interdisciplinary topics in transportation, economics and operations research. Aleksandar regularly publishes papers in scientific journals and presents his research at international conferences. He is skilled in machine learning, data science, and data visualization.
Aleksandar is a founder of Urbanova, a consultancy that specializes in transportation planning and economics. Aleksandar holds a master’s degree in Transportation Engineering from the University of California Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Belgrade.
Hamed Bukhamseen is an architect and first-year doctoral student. His research is concerned with the politicization of logistical networks and the spatial impact of its associated infrastructure made by foreign governmental entities. Prior to his start at the DDes program, he had been an instructor at the Kuwait University – College of Architecture teaching design studios and seminars. Parallel to his time teaching, Hamed is the co-founder of the architectural office Civil Architecture. The work of Civil has been shown in the Sharjah Architecture Triennale, Oslo Triennale, Seoul Biennale, and Amman Design Week. Along with Ali Ismail Karimi (MArch ’16), Hamed curated the Kuwait Pavilion “Between East and West: A Gulf “at the 2016 Venice Biennale.
Hamed is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard Graduate School of Design, earning degrees in the fine arts, architecture, and urban design. He has previously worked as an architect in Kuwait, Japan, Germany, and the US prior to the establishment of his practice.
Elence Xinzhu Chen is a second year doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). She is searching for strategies to redefine building design and operation for achieving optimal natural ventilation, daylight and energy reduction. Her research interest lies in making buildings smarter, healthier and more sustainable via smart building technologies. Elence’s research integrates Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques into building energy modelling, simulation, and system control.
She holds a Master in Design Studies with a concentration in Energy and Environment from the GSD, a Bachelor of Science in Project and Facilities Management from National University of Singapore. Her master’s thesis investigated the use of Phase Change Materials in heating buildings to reduce building energy consumption through a passive manner and was awarded the Daniel L. Schodek Award for Technology and Sustainability in 2020.
Elence interned at Transsolar Germany, Building and Construction Authority Singapore and Arup Shanghai office. She has been involved in multiple national and international projects that aim to design ultra-efficient buildings with fewer resources and less dependence on machines and energy. The project she led has been awarded Singapore’s Green Mark Gold Award.
Yonghui Chen fourth-year DDes candidate with a background of urban planning and urban design. Focusing on urban conservation theory and practice, his doctoral research explores historic conservation strategies applicable to contemporary cities with particular interest in China. Prior to DDes, he held a Master Degree in Design Studies concentrating on Critical Conservation at Harvard GSD. He is interested in using spatial analytics methods to study urban conservation and urban design. During the past two years, he was granted the Outstanding Student Award of the Year in 2017 by the Eris Development Center and Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis. He worked as a research assistant at GSD City Form Lab, translating Andres Sevtsuk’s Urban Network Analysis: Tools for Modeling Pedestrian and Bicycle Trips in Cities which has been published in China. He taught as a teaching fellow at GSD Urban Planning Department for 2019 Fall VIS 2129 Spatial Analysis and the Built Environment, and 2020 Spring SES 5211 Cities by Design.
Zhanliang Chen is a doctoral student and urban artist. Zhan’s research focuses on the conservation of timber structural historical buildings of China. Specifically, it concerns the various methods, organizations, histories, and manners of China’s architectural conservation to resist the obsolesce of traditional wooden construction with regard to its physical characteristics. Born and raised in a family of architects and traditional arch-crafts persons, he received architectural training in both modern building and traditional Chinese craftsmanship before college. Zhan chose conservation of Chinese traditional vernacular architecture as a research topic at Zhejiang University, China, where he earned his M.Arch degree. He took part in village heritage conservation projects, including wooden clan temples, residences, stone roads and bridges, and general renovation design of Liruo village, Zhejiang, China. His master thesis was a study on facade renovation of buildings in traditional towns and villages in China, for which he had spent two years doing field research in 35 separate villages and towns.
Painting wall pieces (sometimes canvases) with spray cans(legally) since 2008, Zhan travels around the world creating murals in urban environments. Combining the Chinese building and calligraphy with graffiti murals, he develops his flow of art and co-works with commercial brands and art institutes. He and his crew have been hosting art and graffiti events, exhibitions and lectures around China since 2014.
Somayeh Chitchian is an architect, urban researcher and doctoral student at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design. Her research focuses on the extended corridors of migratory circulation and uses a logistical lens as both a material and theoretical tool towards a respatialized approach to migration research’s inherent methodological nationalism. Somayeh’s work lies at the intersection of critical urban theory, migration research, border- and logistics studies, and is guided by de/postcolonial thought, critical race theory, and radical cartography as its overarching framework of analysis. The central question guiding her doctoral work is: How does the contemporary logistics space (re)produce its political figure on-the-move—i.e., “the migrant”?
Somayeh is a trained architect (B.Arch and M.Arch) from Delft University of Technology in the Netherland and holds a Master in Design Studies degree (MDes) in Critical Conservation (with distinction) from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her masters thesis research “Middle Eastern Immigration Landscape in America” won Harvard ESRI Development Center’s Student of the Year Award in 2014. During her years in the Netherlands, she practiced as an architect at several firms in both Amsterdam and The Hague, where she collaborated on various residential and cultural projects, as well as the design of advanced building envelopes. At Harvard, she has held various appointments as teaching and research fellow.
From 2015-2019, she held a doctoral fellow position at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany, working towards her doctoral dissertation.
Sang-Yong Cho is a Doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His research focuses on the nexus between energy, water, and carbon in an urban and industrial environment. He incorporates material flow accounting methods and urban metabolism principles to test the feasibility of integrating energy, water, waste flow between urban and the industrial sectors. Recently, Sang and researchers at Samsung Medical Center was awarded a grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea to study the association between breast cancer and greenness in Seoul, South Korea.
Sang is also a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning where he teaches landscape architecture studio and seminars. Additionally, he is working with researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to study respiratory outcome and greenspace. He has practiced as a landscape planner in Boston; and was a research fellow in Ulsan, South Korea. He received his Master of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Bert De Jonghe is a first year Doctor of Design student. His doctoral research investigates polar urbanization in Russia while drawing attention to the emerging influences and ambitions of the ‘near-Arctic state,’ China.
Prior to joining the DDes program, Bert has worked as a landscape architect in Belgium, South Africa, and Norway. He is also the founder of Transpolar Studio, a spatial design practice specializing in landscape architecture, urbanism, and design research in the Arctic and Subarctic regions.
Bert earned his Master in Design Studies degree (with a concentration in Urbanism, Landscape, and Ecology) at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design after completing a Master of Landscape Architecture at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.
Aisha S. Densmore-Bey has benefited from over twenty years of professional experience in the field of architecture. She has written articles and has organized or been a panelist at various symposia discussing architecture and design, including Build Boston/ABx and the national American Institute of Architects Convention. Aisha runs a Boston based eponymous creative office that specializes in architecture, interiors, lighting design, graphic design, film, and art.
Aisha is a recipient of the American Institute of Architects Associates Award, and has been featured in Architect Magazine, ArchDaily, Design Bureau, Apartment Therapy, and the Lifework Blog of iconic furniture company, Herman Miller.
Developing and encouraging the next generation of designers, Aisha founded Future Prep 101: How to Prepare Teens for Design Careers™, a half-day seminar which exposes high school students and their parents to multiple design disciplines.
Aisha is author and illustrator of the children’s book Who Made My Stuff? Miles Learns About Design, and writer, producer, director of the award-winning film short ROOM. She is also co-founder of the collaborative open screening film platform 100 Minutes.
Aisha is a DDes candidate who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Florida A&M University, and a Master Of Science in Strategic Design and Management from the Parsons School of Design. While at Harvard, Aisha’s research explores how artists and arts-based planning in communities of color can create a framework for healthier and equitable neighborhoods in major US cities.
Boya Guo is a cultural geographer and urban historian with an interest in how cultural powers shape the built environment and vice versa. Her doctoral thesis focuses on the power interplay and conflicts between UNESCO’s Outstanding Universal Values, Chinese nationalistic discourses and practices of heritage, and local responses, to draw conclusions about underlying power dynamics of contemporary China’s use of heritage and history. In line with her research, she is working on a book project about Qianlong Beijing Plan and the history of cartography in Qing Dynasty of China.
Boya firmly believes the value of cross-disciplinary dialogue and has been actively engaged with China-related academic activities within and beyond GSD. Her research has been widely supported by Weatherhead Center, Asia Center, Fairbank Center of Chinese Studies, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Ash Center China Programs, Frederick Sheldon Fellowship, and Chinese Scholarship Council, etc. Her works have been presented at Tianjin University, Central Academy of Fine Arts in China, the bi-annual conference of Association of Critical Heritage Studies in 2020, annual conference of Royal Geographical Society with IBG in 2018, Royal College of Art Conference “Spatialised Governmentality: China and the Global Context” in 2018, Goethe-Institut Beijing “Whatever Works, Whatever It Takes” symposium in 2019. She also co-organized the Harvard DDes 2018 conference “[RE]FORM” in which nine worldwide prominent scholars repositioned the discourse of urban form within contemporary urban theory. Besides doing research, Boya has been practicing as an urban planner and consultant for many conservation projects in China. Boya holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in urban planning and a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Peking University, and a Master in Design Studies degree from the Harvard GSD in the area of Critical Conservation.
Jung Min (Ellie) Han is a fourth-year doctoral student who, through her research, seeks strategies for architectural sustainability and energy-efficient building design. She innovates on interoperable building performance simulation (BPS) software for architects to use in nimble building performance analysis and flexible early-stage design decision making. Her doctoral research, advised by Prof. Ali Malkawi, focuses on the geometric properties of architecture and exchangeable data formats for evaluating building designs. Artificial intelligence and deep learning are her primary methodologies for advancing the feasibility of BPS software.
Han holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Korea National University of Arts, a Master of Science in Building Performance and Diagnostics from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and a Master of Design Studies with a concentration in Energy and Environments from Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). Before starting the DDes program, she worked at the Delos Labs as a building science intern and the Brooks+Scarpa Architects as an intern architect. She has worked at the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities as a research assistant since 2017. As a student and researcher, she developed several BPS tools to help architects with sustainable design decision-making on topics ranging from building to urban scales of implementation. Along with her academic engagement, her journal and conference papers on building performance and simulation have been published and presented at conferences sponsored by the International Building Performance Simulation Association and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.
Vanessa Harden is a first year student in the Doctor of Design (DDes) program. She is an artist and designer focused on creating thought-provoking experiences and installations in the built environment. Her research focuses on how mycelium networks facilitate plant communication in urban spaces. She is developing tools and methodologies to help foster an environment beneficial to the health and evolution of mycelial networks in city centres, and that can offer insight, through visual translations and tangible interfaces, into plant interaction.
She is the founder of Subversive Gardener, an IF Concept Award winning design project turned non-profit organization that focuses on environmental education, design exploration, and public intervention connected to the guerrilla gardening subculture. Vanessa is also the founder of Wild Flag Studios, a design studio that creates interactive sculptures and produces art installations for clients worldwide.
Vanessa and her work have been featured in publications including Vogue, The Guardian, Wired, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Vice, and others, and on networks including CNN and the BBC. Her work has been shown in multiple exhibitions including at the Venice Biennale, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Royal Institution. She has delivered numerous talks about her work, addressing how public interventions act as vehicles that draw awareness to timely social and environmental issues.
When she is not developing projects for Subversive Gardener and Wild Flag Studios, Vanessa teaches design at Tandon Engineering Department at New York University. She holds three art and design centric degrees from the Ontario College of Art & Design (BDes), MIT Media Lab and the Royal College of Art
Hakim Hasan specializes in robotic fabrication and computational design research. Upon earning a master’s degree in Digital Fabrication and Robotics from ETH Zurich, he leveraged his expertise to develop an innovative process of aggregating soft particles at Gramazio Kohler Research. This process further led him to a teaching stint at the Norman Foster Foundation Robotics Atelier. Since 2015, Hakim has actively participated in practice-based research at Perkins and Will, and in 2018 he became a lead researcher for the Building Technology Lab with a focus on architectural robotics. Since 2018 Hakim has been a researcher in residence at the Autodesk Technology Center in Boston. Hakim’s pioneering work with the development of the Mobile Robotic Assistant for Architectural Design platform, referred to as MRAAD, generates a revolutionary discourse in the AEC industry. Hakim’s current doctoral research focuses on robotic delivery models for multi-story mass timber structures.
Kristen Hunter‘s research concerns innovative public‑private financing mechanisms to stimulate urban regeneration and economic development. Additional interests include sustainable urbanism, institutional and non-profit development, and socially responsible investment.
An experienced development manager and LEED AP, Kristen currently provides strategic consulting for complex urban development projects in domestic and overseas markets. She authored a series of case studies on best practices in the delivery of federal construction projects for the U.S. General Services Administration Public Buildings Service, where she served as an Assistant Instructor at the agency’s semi-annual academy.
Since 2010 she has taught Real Estate Development and Finance, as well as Public and Private Development, at the GSD. She was the recipient of the 2012‑2013 GSD Student Forum Teaching Fellow Award. As an extension of her teaching, Kristen advises student teams participating in a variety of regional and national urban development competitions.
Kristen received a master’s degree with distinction in Real Estate and Project Management from the GSD, earning the Gerald M. McCue Medal for highest overall academic record and the Ferdinand Colleredo‑Mansfeld Prize for superior achievement in real estate studies. She also holds an M.A. in Medieval Chinese History from Cornell University and an A.B. cum laude in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University.
While currently an Irving Instructional Technology Fellow and Deans Diversity and Inclusion Fellow, Esesua Ikpefan’s doctoral research highlights spatial dimensions of inequality and marginalization in Lagos, Nigeria. Her work sees the built environment as both an informer of conflict and identity, as well as a reflection of these issues. Her research focuses on the intersection between heritage, identity, inequality, and colonial legacies in Nigeria’s urban centers. This work assesses how claims of ownership and authenticity are performed in contestation over limited urban space in Lagos. It confronts popular hierarchies of place and persons in Nigeria, questioning who a given society sees as valuable enough to have a right to urban space, and why.
Her past research in the Master in Design Studies in Critical Conservation program at the GSD, examines colonial, religious, and cultural practices that together have form contemporary governmental and societal biases towards Nigeria’s urban poor. This research focuses on how heritage and narratives of history and place, and its built environment, can become tools for urban inequality and exclusion.
Esesua has a B.F.A. in Environmental and Interior Design form Syracuse University. She held teaching fellowships at the GSD Urban Planning and Design Department, the Department of History of Art and Architecture, and the General Education Department at Harvard University. She was also a Research Assistant at the Just City Lab, and served as the Logistics Committee Lead for the 2019 Harvard GSD Black in Design Conference.
Gorata Kgafela is a first year Doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her research lies at the intersection of human identity and cyberspace. She explores the influence of the geopolitical landscape on the motivators and behavior patterns observed in participatory practice. Emphasis is placed on local knowledge systems as a keystone for innovation of tools for civic engagement. Specifically, her research explores the gamification of civic engagement and participatory planning to guide development policy in the hybrid urban space of the smart city.
Gorata holds an MBA from the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). She is trained as an Architect, qualifying with both an MArch and a Post Professional MArch in Computing from the University of Miami where she graduated valedictorian and was recipient of the Henry Adams Medal for Excellence in Architecture by the American Institute of Architects. Gorata received her B.A. in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
With over 18 years as a practising Architect and as President of Architects Association of Botswana, Gorata has garnered experience in design, advocacy, and participatory planning for policy formulation. She has also taught 3D modelling at University of Miami.
Elitza Koeva’s practice plays with temporality and the impermanence of tangible and intangible nature as well as the emerging in urban contexts interferences and resonances between sound and space. Her work takes up the argument that contemporary art has struggled to find its place relative to technology and society, especially as these are often pitted against each other in problematic polemics. Elitza’s aim is to understand how artistic visual & spatial practices engender people’s engagement, critical awareness, and participatory responses to digitally mediated environments, reconciling the self and the social at the level of city construction and subjectivity.
Elitza holds a Master’s Degree in Information Studies from the University of Tokyo. She has practiced at various art & architectural firms and institutions: OMA, Arata Isozaki & Associates, MAD Architects, MOT (Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo) and Junya Ishigami. At MOT, she worked on Oscar Niemeyer and Yoko Ono exhibitions. While at OMA/AMO, she was part of the exhibition team of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition / Fundamentals (Venice Architecture Biennale, 2014). Prior to Harvard, Elitza was a research fellow at the Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD), ETH Zürich. At ETH, she explored the convergence of art, philosophy, quantum physics, and coding. At Harvard she is pursuing a Doctor of Design Studies (DDes) Degree at Harvard Graduate School of Design, with a secondary field in critical media practice (CMP). She is also an affiliate with Harvard’s metaLAB. Elitza is a recipient of the Monbusho scholarship from the Japanese Government, of the ETH CAAD 2017 research fellowship, as well as a Fulbright and Thanks to Scandinavia grantee.
Yihao Li is a third-year DDes student with a focus on urban planning and infrastructure finance. Passionate about making urbanization work for developing countries, his dissertation investigates how China’s development banks, construction companies, and developers are reshaping the urban landscape in several overseas trade hubs along the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” in the form of large transport infrastructure, industrial zones, and real estate development. In the 2021-2022 academic year, Yihao is doing field research in Asia with a Harvard University Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship. His research is also supported by Harvard Fairbank Center, Harvard Asia Center, Harvard Ash Center, and the GSD. Before graduate school, he worked as a land policy consultant at the World Bank, researching comparative land and urbanization policy. Yihao also worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Yihao has a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government with a concentration on international development, and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with a B.A. in international relations and economics.
Hsuan Lo is a second-year doctoral student and teaching fellow in 5204 Real Estate Finance and Development at Harvard GSD. Born and raised in Taiwan, Hsuan is a trained planner, researcher, and licensed broker, holding dual master’s degrees in Urban Planning from the University of Manchester and National Taipei University and a Bachelor’s in Real Estate and Built Environment. His master thesis, “The Correlation Between Urban Renewal and Housing Vacancies,” was awarded by Taiwan’s Ministry of Interior and the Chinese Society of Housing Studies in 2018.
Hsuan’s ongoing research concerns property tax capitalization effects from Western to Eastern countries. Using 2SLS, cross-sectional, and DID models, he compares diverse cultures and governments’ attitudes toward property taxes and fiscal policies and identifies how these differences in the traditional mindset, intentionally or unintentionally, affect housing markets. The American cases emphasize the tax and expenditure limitations (TELs) of CA Prop 13 and NYC tax caps. The Asian instances refer to the tax disincentives in Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, and Seoul.
Since 2016, Hsuan has published journal, conference papers, and editorials on land economics, public finance, and urban renewal. From 2018 to 2020, he practiced as a researcher at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and Taipei City Government (TCG), assessing the efficacy of urban sharing, speculation, and vacancy taxes through panel data, AHP, and semi-structured interviews. He also interned at Turley UK, drafting master plans of commercial real estate for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority from 2016 to 2017. Hsuan runs his column on CommonWealth Magazine since 2015, continuously seeking resolutions for living justice.
Dominique Mashini is a second-year DDes student at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design as a Fulbright Grantee. She is an architect and urban planner from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, with a focus on metropolitan governance, climate change and landscape ecology, always recognizing in the observation of socio-ecological interactions an opportunity for equity in Latin American and Caribbean cities.
Previously, she was a consultant for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) division (Climate Change and Sustainable Development Department) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where she coordinated governance projects for emerging metropolitan systems in the framework of decentralization policies and institutional strengthening programs. She also supported the IDB Southern Cone countries team in research, operations and technical cooperation on sustainable development, Historic Urban Landscape (HUL), and neighborhood improvement in Chilean cities. She was also a researcher at the Urban Design Lab of the IDB, the Austrian Ministry of Finance, and the Technische Universität Wien (TU Wien), where she developed participatory methodologies for the design of urban projects with local communities in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, and Panamá.
Dominique has participated in collaborative networks for research and urban design, and in editorial projects such as Plataforma Urbana (Archdaily).
Mojdeh Mahdavi is an urban designer and registered architect. She is currently a Doctor of Design student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where her work is supported by GSD Dean’s merit, Iranian Scholarship Foundation and P.E.O Foundation. At the GSD, she is also the co-editor of the twelfth volume of the DDes annual journal, New Geographies 12: Commons. Mojdeh received a research-based (mention recherche) Post-Master degree in Architecture and Urbanism from École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris LaVillette, ENSAPLV, and a Master in Landscape Architecture from University of Tehran where she was graduated with honors.
Before the GSD, Mojdeh practiced urban and architectural design in Paris, Tehran, and Almaty in well-established firms as well as experimental design groups. Her work has been presented in conferences in Paris, Tehran, Zurich, and Montreal. During several years of professional and academic experience, she has gained extensive knowledge in civic engagement, public participation and community empowerment in the process of urban development. Since her collaboration with Tehran Urban Innovation Center in 2016, where she is currently a partner, she has examined the efficiency of a combination of off-line and online methods as well as digital technologies in the complex process of participation. Currently, as a Bloomberg fellow in City Leadership Initiative, she uses this practical knowledge in community engagement and ICT and urban intelligence engendered opportunities in helping Syracuse’s office of Accountability, Performance and Innovation to devise a socially-conscious, inclusive, and economically-responsive smart city plan.
Mojdeh’s research at the GSD investigates how spatialized urban intelligence and emerging digital technologies change the nature and structure of urban governance and public interfaces. She looks at the ways through which urban governments prepare for implementation of smart infrastructure and smart technologies, create new growth-coalitions and revise their relationships with citizens. Mojdeh’s broader research engages with the evolving relationships between urbanization, politics, urban governance, urban intelligence and their effects on sociopolitical capacity of the society.
Trained as an Architect, Nusrat Jahan Mim from Bangladesh, is a Doctor of Design candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). Her research work is focused on studying the socio-economic politics embedded in resource-constrained contexts of the Global South and designing novel and creative spaces to facilitate an inclusive and democratic participation of the marginalized communities there. Her work draws upon cutting-edge critical literature in Urban Design Politics around Faith and Informalities and addresses the contemporary struggles of marginalized communities within the globalized projects of modernization, urbanization, and digitization. Her projects have been published in ACM SIGCHI ’20, ‘21(Best Paper Honorable Mention Awards), Religions ‘20, Peer Production ’18, Interaction ’21, and S.Arch ’20.
Nusrat holds a Master of Architecture from Syracuse School of Architecture with the A.I.A Henry Adams Medal for achieving the highest academic rank. Her study at SyrArc was supported by Design TA fellowship, Teaching Assistantships, and Creative Work and Research Grants. She is currently involved with Third Space Research Group at the DGP, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Toronto. She also worked with BRAC (the largest global NGO) in cyclone resilient housing project for fishermen communities and with Oxfam in culturally sensitive washing facilities project for Rohingya refugee women in Bangladesh. She received her B.Arch from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), where she worked as a lecturer and design studio teacher for two years after her graduation. She has received several international awards including Lafarge-Holcim Award for sustainable construction (Next Generation), Laka International: Architecture that Reacts, HDR Graduate Student Award in Architecture and Urban Design among others.
Sarah Norman studies self-actuated forms and systems, with particular interest in geometries exhibiting ranges of transformations; explored through additive 3D printing processes in multiple materials and robotics. In research at Harvard, she currently collaborates with Martin Bechthold and the Materials Processes and Systems Group (MaP+S) at the GSD; and James Weaver at the Wyss Institute for Biological Engineering.
With over ten years of experience as an interdisciplinary designer on civic, cultural, institutional and infrastructural projects, Sarah formerly worked in New York with Rafael Viñoly Architects, Schlaich Bergermann Partner and Santiago Calatrava. Her international projects include complex facades, grid shells, membrane structures, pedestrian bridges, slender spires and various complex/special structures.
Having taught most recently at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) as a visiting fellow, Sarah has also taught design studios and technology/theory courses at Parsons School of Design, The New School, and University of Michigan. She has also been an invited visiting critic for reviews at Columbia University, University of Virginia, Pratt Institute and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Sarah earned her MArch I from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), an MFA in Product Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and undergraduate degree concentrations in studio art, art history, journalism and photography.
Begoña Peiro is a first-year DDes student. She has worked in the fields of architecture and urban planning, focusing on urban climate resilience, informal settlements upgrading, and climate justice. Begoña has recently been awarded a La Caixa Fellowship to carry out her doctoral studies. She holds an M.Sc. in International Cooperation from the International University of Catalunya and a Bachelor & Master’s Degree in Architecture from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia.
Begoña worked as part of UN-Habitat’s climate change team (Global Solutions Division), supporting the program on strengthened climate action. She also worked for the Bangkok Office, the Pacific Office, and the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. She conducted applied research on urban climate resilience, ecosystem-based adaptation, and informal settlements, collaborating with UNEP, UNESCAP, UNDRR, among others. In Fiji, she led the development of community-level vulnerability assessments and action plans in 16 informal settlements across four urban areas. She authored a guide on participatory methodologies to support community-level resilience planning and implemented them on the ground, working with local communities. Begoña has presented at international conferences including the World Urban Forum and the Urban Resilience Asia Pacific Conference.
Previously, Begoña worked at architecture and urban planning offices as a project leader, where she worked on a diverse range of internationally recognized European projects (including the International Architecture Award)
Katarina Richter-Lunn is an architectural designer, researcher, and first year doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her research, found at the intersection of design, psychology, and neuroscience, aims to promote well-being through our environment.
By translating methods of traditional behavioral therapy, her research seeks to demonstrate how human, machine, and spatial interactions can be leveraged via AI algorithms to propose more seamless and intuitive solutions to addressing mental health. As part of this work, she explores how neurological and physiological cues can give insight to one’s behavior, and in turn support cognitive processes through the lens of materiality, computational design, affective computing, and social robotics.
Alongside her doctoral studies at Harvard, Katarina is a research assistant with the Materials Processes and Systems Group (MaP+S) at the GSD, as well as a member of the Aizenberg Lab at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
Katarina holds a Master in Design Technology (M.Des.) from Harvard GSD and a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with a minor in Sustainable Environments. She has worked at leading architecture firms including Snøhetta, Arup, IwamottoScott, and most recently Gehry Partners, where she worked as a project designer.
Adam Royalty develops programs that impact social systems through human centered design. He is a second-year DDes student researching the effect innovation labs and entrepreneurship programs have on urban development. With training as a learning designer, Adam is particularly interested in how individuals, organizations, and communities transfer knowledge into action.
Prior to the GSD Adam founded the Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Studio. The Design Studio hosts numerous interdisciplinary design courses at Columbia University, including the Design for Social Innovation initiative. DFSI teaches teams of students how to use human centered design to help social impact organizations advance an innovation project. Past organizations include Harlem Children’s Zone, Witness.org, the NYC Department of Education, and the Aga Khan Foundation in Kyrgyzstan.
Adam’s research journey began at the Stanford University d.school. There he started the d.school’s first research effort with the goal of measuring the impact of the institute’s programs. Using a mixed method approach, Adam developed and implemented quantitative and qualitative assessments of students’ design practice. This work led to over a dozen chapter and journal publications.
Outside of his work in academia, Adam consults with a range of companies and foundations to promote organizational change through human centered design.
Adam’s academic background includes a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of California Berkeley and an M.A. in Learning, Design, & Technology from Stanford University.
Charu Srivastava is an architect, engineer and second year doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her research focuses on human-building interaction, perceptions of space and the optimization of healthy and high-performance buildings. She is exploring the use of data analytics and technology to augment design experiences and promote health and well-being in hybrid physical/digital environments.
Previously, Charu worked as a researcher at the Urban Informatics Lab and with the Hybrid Physical + Digital Spaces team at Stanford University. She also practiced architectural design at DES Architects + Engineers and CAW Architects, researched and published articles as a Schneider Fellow at the U.S. Green Building Council and conducted social network analysis at Google Real Estate + Workplace Services.
Charu holds a Master of Science in Sustainable Design and Construction and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Design, both from Stanford University. She also studied abroad at Oxford University. She received an Honorable Mention by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program, the ARCC King Medal for Excellence in Environmental Design and Research, the Schneider Sustainable Energy Fellowship and the Chappell Lougee Scholarship.
Elaine Stokes, PLA, is an educator and landscape architect who studies the cultural and narrative implications of North American infrastructure. She is currently in her first year of the Doctor of Design program at the GSD, after spending several years working in professional practice, first at Stoss Landscape Urbanism and then Sasaki. Elaine’s research explores the riverine corridors of the Upper Mississippi River Watershed, focusing specifically on dams constructed on sites recognized as sacred land by local indigenous tribes. Her work considers storytelling as a critical method deployed by both federal agencies and indigenous communities to explore new infrastructural imaginaries. This research is situated within the theoretical frameworks of water rights, indigenous sovereignty, river infrastructural history, landscapes of memory, and contemporary territorial landscape practice.
Elaine currently teaches at Rhode Island School of Design and Boston Architectural College, where she has led a range of studios and seminars focused on urban infrastructure and digital representation. Previously, Elaine earned her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and her Master in Landscape Architecture from the GSD, where she graduated with distinction. Her work and writing have been featured in Pidgin, Paprika!, World Landscape Architecture (WLA), and Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM), as well as various edited volumes.
Tianyu Su is a first-year Doctor of Design student, with his concentrations in urban informatics and spatial data analysis. His research focuses on applying large-scale urban sensing and transportation data to support policy- and decision-making. Tianyu has engaged in research projects at Harvard Kennedy School, MIT JTL Urban Mobility Lab, and the City Science Group at MIT Media Lab.
Before joining the DDes program, Tianyu received his Master in City Planning from MIT, concentrating on Urban Information Systems and City Design & Development. His thesis research investigated the commuting behavior patterns of MIT employees to support better transportation service design. More specifically, the thesis, “Identifying Commuting Behavior Segments for TDM Program Design: University Case Study”, under the supervision of Prof. Jinhua Zhao and Dr. M. Elena Renda, found nine distinct commuting clusters among MIT employees and proposed target policy recommendations for each group.
Tianyu holds a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Architecture from Tsinghua University in China. He got well equipped with architectural and planning knowledge, was involved in design projects at multiple scales, and identified his interest in the relationship between place and human behavior during his studies. His research at Tsinghua was published as a book chapter (Chapter 6) in Handbook of Planning Support Science.
Daniel Tish is a designer and researcher whose work lies at the intersection of digital fabrication, material science, sustainability, and computation, investigating new design opportunities through the lens of bespoke materiality. Working in collaboration with material scientists, his dissertation research develops robotic fabrication techniques for a new class of carbon-negative biocomposites. At Harvard, Daniel is a fourth-year doctoral candidate, a member of the MaP+S group, and has had his research generously supported by the Center for Green Buildings and Cities and the Joint Center for Housing Studies. Daniel is also a Research Associate at Autodesk, where he develops new technologies for construction robotics. His recent projects have included computer vision-guided robotics, machine learning algorithms for self-actuating objects, and additively manufactured cable-net structures at various scales – from kinetic gallery installations to functionally-graded chairs. His work has been published as a part of recent ACADIA, Fabricate, Rob|Arch, and IASS conferences, as well as in the book Towards a Robotic Architecture and the journals Construction Robotics and TAD.
Daniel was previously a Lecturer at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where he taught digital fabrication. Additionally, he led an intensive summer masterclass at the University of Technology Sydney. Daniel has worked in the research offices of RVTR in Ann Arbor and murmur in Los Angeles, as well as in commercial firms in Chicago and St. Louis. Daniel received his Master of Architecture with Distinction from the University of Michigan and his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis with a self-guided special major in Sustainable Design.
Lara Tomholt is a sixth year Doctor of Design candidate studying how the integration of science, technology and design can help us develop new, innovative concepts for adaptable façades that significantly increase the energy efficiency of building thermoregulation.
Alongside her doctoral research at the GSD, she has been part of Harvard’s Council of Student Sustainability Leaders, joined The Green Program, and conducted materials research for the GSD’s Adaptive Living Environments (ALivE) group. She is currently a research assistant for the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC), and conducts biology and biologically inspired robotics research at the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory (formerly affiliated with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering). Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Energy & Buildings, Journal of Structural Biology and Science Translational Medicine.
Lara holds a BSc and MSc degree in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences from Delft University of Technology. As part of her studies in Delft, she participated in multiple projects of The Why Factory (part of MVRDV) and an exchange program with the Polytechnic University of Milan. She worked as an intern at Benthem Crouwel Architects, after which her research was presented at the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2014.
Her other interests include complex data visualization, parametric modeling, fabrication, animal welfare, and food sustainability.
Juan Pablo Ugarte is a DDes candidate. He holds an Architecture degree from Universidad Católica de Chile, and a Master of Architecture from the Harvard GSD. Juan Pablo’s doctoral research seeks to advance our understanding of the design cognition processes that underlie model making. Using post-cognitivist theories of the mind and eye tracking technology, he is designing and conducting experiments to record and analyze the gaze behavior of designers during exploratory model-making tasks. The results of these experiments may shed light on how designers think when they physically materialize their ideas, which in turn may help inform the future development of robotic tools that support and enhance designers’ creative thinking.
Liang Wang is an architect, urban designer, and educator. He is a Doctor of Design candidate and was previously a teaching fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He taught at Syracuse University School of Architecture as the 2020-21 Harry der Boghosian Fellow. Liang’s scholarship and teaching concern history and theory of urban form, space and politics of the superblock, architecture and the idea of the city in East Asia, as well as the idea of the commons and collective living. His research work and teaching have been supported by Harvard University, Syracuse University, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, among others. In line with his research work, Liang is the co-author of the book Urban Blocks and Grids: History, Technical Features, and Outcomes (Scholars’ Press, 2019). He is also the co-editor of the twelfth issue Commons of the New Geographies journal (Harvard University Press, 2021). .
Previously, Liang completed his Master of Architecture in Urban Design degree with distinction from the GSD, where he was awarded the Urban Design Thesis Prize and the Clifford Wong Prize in Housing Design. He also holds a Master of Architecture degree from Rice University, where he won the Morris R. Pitman Award in Architecture and the Fondren Research Award.
In addition to his academic experiences, Liang is the co-founder of Commons Office—a creative think tank and a research-minded design practice. Prior to founding Commons Office, he practiced architecture and urban design internationally at Herzog & de Meuron, SOM, WW Architecture, and Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects.
Seok Min Yeo (he) is a Doctor of Design candidate at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His research focuses on the relationship between ecological forces and design. His doctoral dissertation, titled Envelopes and Laboratories of Environmental Knowledge, narrates the story of architectural laboratories that sought to codify the formal relationship between climate and architecture. This dissertation is advised by Charles Waldheim, Ed Eigen, and Holly Samuelson. Yeo’s doctoral research has been supported by the Office for Urbanization Research Fellowship from 2019-21, as well as the GSD Summer Research Grant in 2020, and the GSD Doctor of Design Research Grant in 2021.
At the GSD, he has contributed to teaching courses in the Department of Landscape Architecture. Since 2018, he has been a guest Instructor for numerous workshops for core design studios, Teaching Fellow for theory and representation courses, and Teaching Assistant for Master in Landscape Architecture design thesis and option studio..
Yeo joins the School of Architecture as a Part-Time instructor in Fall 2021. At Syracuse University, he will teach the second-year undergraduate architectural design studio. He has also taught core architectural design studios at the Boston Architectural College from 2018-19.
Yeo was a Research Associate from 2018-19 and a Research Fellow from 2019-21 at the Office for Urbanization, led by Charles Waldheim. Yeo is a co-author of a forthcoming design research publication titled 50 Species-Towns (Harvard University, 2021) that imagines alternative futures of agrarian urbanization in China. A portion of this work was featured in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Design Week in 2021. He also contributed to the Office for Urbanization’s exhibition entry Heliomorphic Seoul for Seoul:Superground exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Architecture and Urbanism in 2018. Yeo has also held design positions at Payette and Safdie Architects in Boston.
Yeo earned his MLA from Harvard University in 2018, where he received the Master in Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize for his design thesis Wild: Manhattanism Unhinged. He earned his B.Arch from Syracuse University in 2015, where his design thesis Crazy Long: A Sticky Landscape Infrastructure received the Dean’s Citation for Excellence.
Maroula Zacharias is an Architect and Computational Designer based in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a first-year DDes student, advised by Professor Martin Bechthold and Professor Sawako Kaijima. Her research interests are related to advanced material systems, human-centered and data-driven design. She holds a Diploma in Architectural Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and a Master of Science (SMArchS 2018) in Computational Design from MIT. Prior to joining the DDes program, she was a Visiting Lecturer at MIT, where she taught classes on Computational Design & Fabrication, Assistive Design and Design Thinking at the MIT Department of Architecture and at the MIT School of Engineering. Parallel to her teaching, she has worked as a researcher in Human-Computer Interaction at the Human-Computer Interaction Engineering (HCIE) Lab at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Parallel to her research and teaching, she loves engaging in curatorial activities that blend architecture, design and technology. A recent example of her curatorial work is “Design on Display” at MIT in 2019.
Boya Zhang is a Chinese architect interested in interactions between urban form and the cultural, political, and economic forces. As a third-year doctoral student at the Graduate School of Design, Boya has been a member of Office for Urbanization since 2018, where he works for several scenario-based design research projects in the context of agricultural modernization and new town planning in rural China. His research engages with the global discourse of agrarian urbanism, in particular as a response to the increasingly urgent call for alternative interpretations of rural conditions. His doctoral dissertation focuses on the reception of ideas about the agrarian from the West to China. It aspires to offer an account of history through which the urban-rural transformation in 20th-century China could be understood in a broader theoretical framework beyond the conventional East-West binary. Boya holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Architecture from Tsinghua University, and a post-professional master’s degree in architecture from Harvard GSD. Prior to pursuing the doctoral degree, he worked for architectural offices in Beijing, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Boston.