Harvard GSD M.Arch.I (Lian)

Lectures and exhibitions, life in the trays, happenings around the GSD and beyond.

  • Live Blog: Janette Sadik-Khan, Comissioner of NYC Department of Trasportation

    Hi Archinect,

    Janette Sadik-Khan, the New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner, is speaking in Piper as part of the 'Roadmap to Sustainable Infrastructures & Green Cities Conference.'

    image [Photo from]

    6:38: It's a pretty full house in Piper tonight. Sadik-Khan is as popular as Herzog + de Meuron or Bjarke Ingels, it seems.

    6:42: Aaron Naparstek, founder of, is making introductory remarks. In 1970, before Sadik-Khan, "New York city streets were run by an 80 year old traffic engineering mindset." The head of DOT then told him that "my job is to keep the traffic moving."


    "We were stuck in gridlock, literally. Janette Sadik-Khan changed that. ...She immediately began engaging communities and implementing long-sought ideas." Many of these were done with quick and cheap materials, so that they could be changed or torn up as necessary; experiments on NYC's streets was no longer a drawn-out, multi-year process.

    Naparstek tells us that this change hasn't been uncontroversial: at various NYC papers, Sadik-Khan is known as Janette "Sadist" Khan or "that crazy bike lady."

    6:50: Sadik-Khan takes the podium.

    Her goals: Delivering more reliable point-to-point transportation, and creating safer streets. NYC's streets, designed after a 1950s car-centric ethos, weren't designed to take the kind of mixed traffic that they deal with today. A recent guerrilla art project divided a sidewalk into two lanes: one for visitors, and one for residents. And people followed it! [Laughter.]


    "New Yorkers like to get around fast, so someone who is meandering and holding things up--that bugs up." But injuries to pedestrians have gone down 35% and to drivers by 65% after more space was made on major streets for pedestrians and non-motorized traffic.

    When we're talking about sustainable infrastructure, we need to think about people. "It's not surprising that when we put out chairs and tables, people immediately use them. When we put out orange pylons, people instantly materialize; it's like a Star Trek episode." "And for the first time, Times Square made the list of the top ten retail locations in the world according to Cushman & Wakefield."

    7:00: "And with no offense to Facebook, city streets are the original social network. It's been a wonderful thing to see people [out enjoying the streets]."

    "But we have to do better. NYC has the distinction of having the largest bus network and the slowest bus speeds; one of [my colleagues] says that the only way to get across town is to be born there." [chuckles.]

    "Travel speeds and ridership are both up by 20%" where bus lanes have been introduced. On-board fare collection, multi-door loading... "I really drool when I see [these buses], which means that I'm really a transportation geek."

    "Biking is a great fit with the city's topography." More than half of all bike trips in the city are under 2 miles. "But the key is safety; protect[ing] cyclists is what it's going to take to get people who aren't athletes." The row of parked cars is a safety barrier for cyclists. Traffic goes up by 50 to 200% when there are bike lanes. Cycling has doubled in the city since 2006. And it's not a major construction project: it's basically done with paint.

    image [before]

    image [after]

    Traffic injury rates are at the lowest that they've been in 100 years in New York, but there are still over 4000 fatalities a year.

    7:05: "And yesterday, we announced the start of NYC's bike-sharing program. It will hit the streets next summer with 10000 bikes: more than in any city except Paris and a couple of cities in China." And the head of the bike share company is in the house tonight.

    "How do we get all of this done? ...I have the great fortune of working for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who I think is the best mayor in the country, if not the world."

    7:10: "New Yorkers have 1/3 the carbon footprint as the average American. So those of you who are keen about saving the planet, you should just move to New York City."


    "My point in underscoring the policy framework in these documents is that if you really want to make change, [these are the kinds of goals to think about]. LEED works best as an incentive in a market-driven system, but infrastructure is developed by governments for billions of dollars, and I believe that for infrastructure, it's better to design it [in the best way] from the start, rather than [counting up points] after the fact."

    DOT is developing new standards, which are gathered in a book they call the 'Street Design Manual.' Not all of the innovations are visible: for example, NYC has the highest usage rates of recycled asphalt.

    7:15: "NYC DOT is larger than 2/3 of state DOTs in the country, so I have access to incredible engineers, managers, lawyers...[chuckling in the audience]...yes, lawyers: I'm a lawyer, and I know some, too."

    Sadik-Khan has also been involved in the "National Association of City Transportation Officials." "Even Portland has had problems" when trying to introduce innovations to their public.

    "But I really don't thing we're going to see the major progress that we need to see until a planner can pull a book off the shelf about how to design [these kinds of projects] without being subject to liability and funding concerns."

    Done. Short and sweet.

    Whoops! Fire alarm! (Are the first years messing up on the laser cutters?) Guess it's over. It's too bad, because the talk itself went down so smooth--just a simple infomercial with some uncontroversial and positive tidbits--and I think they real hay would have been made in the question period. Anyways, at least I get to have dinner this way.

    image [People were getting autographs despite the fire alarm.]


    Thanks for reading!

  • Live Blog: Naginski, Jarzombek, Savage, and Wodiczko on Memory, Vision, and Practice

    Hi Archinect! Live-blogging tonight from Piper Auditorium, where we somewhat inexplicably (and to my endless fascination) have a new gold lamé curtain. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Erika Naginski, Mark Jarzombek, and Kirk Savage are talking in an event marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The...

  • Tennis, not architecture.

    Hi Archinect! This post is as advertised. "Site visit" on Saturday, September 3, 2011 to our site from last semester's studio project--Flushing Meadows. [I was crouched in the bushes like a pervert to take this photo. Tennis fans, you know that I know that you know who this is.] Now I'm back at my...

  • Schmancy new website for the GSD

    Hello Archinect! Just a quick note to say that it looks like the GSD's new website, which has been in the works for the past few years, is live! I haven't even looked through it yet, but you can check it out here. The site is designed by Lisa Strausfeld's team at Pentagram. Thanks for looking!...

  • Arigatou gozaimasu, Mohsen-sama!

    Hello Archinect!!! I was very happy to wake up to this email from Dean Mostafavi this morning:Dear Students, Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to this semester’s Paris studio offering, we have made plans to continue the Study Abroad Program in Tokyo for the Spring 2012 term. Toyo...

  • Gund Hall is Naked

    Hello Archinect! Like everyone else who's heading back to school this fall, I'm not yet prepared to let go of summer. There are so many things I wanted to do but haven't yet done! I just need a bit more time. I'm not ready yet! Apparently, Gund Hall feels the same way: The GSD's 75th anniversary...

  • Slow summer...slummer

    Hello Archinect, All good things must come to an end. This summer, for me, has brought a little bit of work and a lot of rest, with plenty of time to rehab my ankle, to catch up with friends, and to neurotically develop and re-develop my five-year plan reconnect with what really matters to me...

  • The long road

    Hi Archinect! You may have seen from an earlier post that I broke my ankle at the end of May. Here is an update on my recovery, and also my first Archinect video blog! Thanks for watching, Lian

  • On Loyalties Divided (re: sacking of Michael Jemtrud at McGill)

    Hello Archinect, This past Thursday, Michael Jemtrud was forced to resign as Director of McGill University School of Architecture. My response to this news is not unbiased. It is entirely biased because this is entirely personal. I want to tell you why this, for me, is the only possible response...

  • things of unusual beauty (x rays of my broken bones)

    Hello Archinect! So, I had a bicycle accident almost three weeks ago now, in which I broke three bones and dislocated my tibia. Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and got copies of my x-rays and the radiologist's descriptions of them. Here is...

  • Live Blog: Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron

    Hello Archinect! Live-Blogging Herzog and de Meuron's lecture at the GSD this afternoon, after their directed thesis studio had their final reviews. Introduction by Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. 4:08 pm: JH: I don't believe in books on architecture; they're bound to fail and disappear even sooner than...

  • Korean Dance-Off and Cory Booker

    Hello Archinect! Korea GSD hosts one of the very best Beer and Dogs* events of the year because they prepare Korean food and a dance performance. This year, the Graduate School of Education (GSE) also sent a group to perform. The GSE team. I wish I could dance. The GSD team. They did us proud...

  • In which I question David Brooks on his support of the GOP budget. Read Brooks' reply.

    Hi Archinect! David Brooks, conservative columnist for the New York Times, spoke at the GSD this evening as part of the Kennedy School's 'Science and Democracy' series. The talk was called “Politics, the Brain, & Human Nature,” and covered many of the talking points from Brooks'...

  • Letter from "Harvard Design School" re: Ai Weiwei

    Hello Archinect! Thanks for looking. Lian

  • Sparking Social Change (Maurice Cox, Marshall Ganz, Duarte Morais)

    Hello Archinect! Last night, Bryan Bell of Design Corps (and currently in residence at the GSD as a Loeb Fellow) held a panel called ‘Sparking Social Change,’ with Maurice Cox, Marshall Ganz, and Duarte Morais. Maurice Cox—professor at University of Virginia’s School of...

  • Live Blog: Ryue MIT

    Konnichiwa, Archinect! In lieu of attending the March 31 Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa lecture at the GSD, I went to the Nishizawa-only lecture tonight at MIT on April 1. Word on the street was that when Sejima and Nishizawa brought their minimal approach to the lecture format at the GSD ("this...

  • The Cognitive Science of Embodiment and the Place of Architecture Today: a conversation with Alberto Pérez-Gómez

    Hello Archinect! So I know I've been posting quite a bit lately, but I have two really important things to share: 1. My former PhD advisor, Alberto Pérez-Gómez, will be in town next weekend for Boston University's Architecture + Philosophy Conference, and will be joining us for an...

  • Live Blog: Eclipse of Beauty, vol. II

    Hello Archinect! Here we are in Piper for more blah blah blah. This, the second volume of the Eclipse of Beauty symposia, features Evan Douglis, the Dean of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Georges Teyssot, a professor from Laval University's school of architecture in Quebec City. And it is...

  • Great shame upon our family.

    Hello Archinect, I love my hometown of Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada (a.k.a. Texas of the North), but sometimes I just have to throw my hands up. Edmonton is apparently the largest city in North America to not have an architecture school. There are good architects there and a decent art scene, but...

  • GSD M.Arch.I Q+A

    Hello Archinect! Occasionally I get emails from people asking about what it's like in the GSD's M.Arch.I program, if I enjoy Harvard, if the people really are evil and competitive, or what it's like living in Cambridge/Somerville. The best way to find out all these answers is to visit our school...

  • Live Blog: Junya Ishigami in Piper

    Tonight's feast is the second installment in the series "A New Innocence: Emerging Trends in Japanese Architecture," which is sponsored by Dean Mohsen Mostafavi with the support of Harvard University Asia Center. Here's a description of the series that Mohsen emailed to us earlier today: The...

  • Nicholas Kristof Win-a-Trip finalist, UVA architecture student Hannah Silver!

    Hello Archinect! This year, Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times is picking one university student and one senior citizen to accompany him on a reporting trip in the developing world. One of the student finalists, Hannah Silver, is also an undergraduate architecture student at the University of...

  • On Fukushima

    Hello, all, I'm packing for an impromptu spring break trip to Chicago, to check out Theaster Gates' Dorchester Project and other community-building and earth-reconciling art, architecture, and urban projects that are growing there. It's a happy thing. I'm looking forward to kicking it in Chi-town...

  • They can't stop me from live blogging this one: The Eclipse of Beauty

    6:20 pm: Starting in ten minutes: Harvard GSD Symposia on Architecture / The Eclipse of Beauty: Parametric Beauty (with Mario Carpo, Michael Meredith, and Ingeborg Rocker.) Symposium co-convened by Antoine Picon and Preston Scott Cohen. Here's the short description from the GSD website: "What has...

  • Conversation with U Michigan's Architecture Program Chair

    Hello Archinect! John McMorrough, Chair of the architecture program at University of Michigan Taubman College, visited our studio this week. I sat down with him to find out about the pedagogical initiatives underway there. Here is an edited transcript of the conversation: LC: Thanks for talking...

  • Vito Acconci, again and again

    Hi Archinect! Vito Acconci was in Piper tonight. Andrew Zientek, MLAII, and Krzysztof Wodiczko, the GSD's Professor in Residence of Art, Design, and the Public Domain (yes, that is his actual title), provided heartfelt introductions. Acconci himself spoke in a straightforward manner, without notes...

  • Hamlet on the Red Line

    So here's the setup. I was on the red line of the T (Boston’s subway) and a guy (pictured here on his knees) starts talking to himself in a loud and agitated way. He looks borderline between hipster and crazy. But as he's talking, I realize that it's Shakespeare, and then that it's a...

  • Inflated

    Hello Archinect! Elizabeth Federic and Laura Harrison's 2008 documentary, "Ant Farm," was screened last night at the GSD. Timothy Hyde provided the introduction and, inspired by the film, the Inflatables Club built an inflatable to fill the Piper floor. Unfortunately, because it is no longer the...

  • Mubarak steps down.

    We don't know how the military will handle their power and how this will all play out. But can we hold on to this image, and remember it when we talk about public space, not just in Egypt, but here at home, and everywhere where we aspire to democracy? Lian


    Hello Archinect! I just wanted to tell you about a new website--something between a blog and an academic journal--called YES NO. It was started by two GSD students, Ted Baab and Jade Yang, in order to create a new public forum for GSD students and the wider community to contest and discuss...

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About this Blog

Lectures and exhibitions, life in the trays, happenings around Cambridge...and once in a while, some studio and course work. Please note that all live blogs are abridged and approximate. If you want to see exactly what happened, in most cases a video of the event is posted online by the event's hosts. If you have concerns about how you are quoted, please contact me via Archinect's email.

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  • Lian Chikako Chang

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