Skylar Bisom-Rapp

Skylar Bisom-Rapp

New York, NY, US



Skylar Bisom-Rapp is a Senior Associate at Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) where he has worked on projects ranging from storefront cultural spaces to neighborhood-scale masterplans. His work is informed by the belief that design and development are both inherently synthetic disciplines and must be approached holistically, with an eye towards context in the broadest sense: local culture, politics, history, social justice and the environment. 

At PAU, Skylar project managed the design and engineering teams for the 180 acre Sunnyside Yard Master Plan in Queens, NY, leading the integration of work from 14 different sub-consultants and serving as the lead author and editor for the final planning documents. His other work at PAU has included a programming exercise for the planned Lowline underground park on the Lower East Side, analysis of the East Midtown Rezoning’s effects on mid-block development sites as well as master planning and feasibility studies for large-scale, mixed-use projects such as a 2,000 unit affordable housing project in East New York and a 1.5 million SF transit oriented, laboratory, office and residential development in Philadelphia.

Skylar has also participated in PAU’s advocacy work, developing design concepts, coordinating with transportation engineers and leading the animation and illustration team that collaborated with New York Times columnist, Farhad Manjoo on his much-discussed editorial "I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing" as well as providing demographic analysis for a letter to Mayor de Blasioabout spaces of public protest.

Skylar was formerly a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia University’s Graduate School for Architecture, Planning and Preservation where he taught courses with PAU founder Vishaan Chakrabarti including a seminar on theories of city form and an interdisciplinary workshop on urban development. Skylar is also an alumnus of GSAPP, where he received dual masters degrees in Architecture and Real Estate Development, with a coursework emphasis on affordable housing finance and policy. Skylar was the inaugural recipient of the Glascock and van Buren Graduate Fellowship at Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE) where he worked under then Research Director Jesse Keenan in support of CURE publications, including Director Keenan’s own work on climate change adaptation in the commercial real estate industry. His projects at Columbia have been published in Abstract, the school’s anthology of student work, and were recognized with the CURE Award for Transdisciplinary Work and the William Kinne Traveling Fellowship. Skylar also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture with High Honors from the University of California, Berkeley. Skylar's scholarly work focusses on architecture fits within larger political economic structures including a paper on how the flexibility of the legal definition of property ownership can benefit socially conscious architects that was published in the fifth issue of the Applied Research Practices in Architecture Journal.

Previously, Skylar has worked for Pollen Architecture & Design in Austin, Texas on a 25,000SF creative office project, the firm’s first attempt at development work, with Janette Kim and Erik Carver on their book, The Underdome Guide to Energy Reform and at Estudio Teddy Cruz.



Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), New York, NY, US, Senior Associate

Skylar Bisom-Rapp is a Senior Associate at Practice for Architecture & Urbanism (PAU) where he leads teams for urban projects ranging from district plans to targeted architectural interventions.

Nov 2015 - current

The Center for Urban Real Estate at Columbia University (CURE), New York, NY, US, Graduate Researcher, Glascock and van Beuren Fellow

Starting in 2014 as the inaugural recipient of the Glascock and van Buren Graduate Fellowship and continuing in the fall of 2015, Skylar's role at the Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE) has been a hybrid of research and design. Working directly under the center's research director, Jesse Keenan, Skylar conducted a literature review of office space design metrics to aid in CURE's case study of the climate change adaptation strategies that Goldman Sachs employed in the design of their new corporate headquarters in Lower Manhattan. Skylar also prepared background research on the last 50 years of Mexican housing policy to brief director Keenan ahead of a talk he gave at a conference organized by Infonavit, Mexico's national home mortgage lending agency.

Skylar was also in charge of managing and implementing CURE’s graphic identity, designing posters for events the center hosted and laying out working papers for its senior researchers. Additionally, Skylar advised Director Keenan on graphic representation strategies for his work on climate change adaptation in the real estate industry, producing charts and diagrams for Keenan’s publications.

Jun 2014 - Dec 2015

Pollen Architecture & Design, Austin, TX, US, Architecture + Development Intern

Skylar spent the Summer of 2015 working for Pollen Architecture & Design in Austin, TX. A small firm with a very progressive ethos, Pollen gave him the chance work on a range of different projects at different levels of development. He produced the final presentation and marketing drawings for a pair of speculative houses being built for a small local developer and was trusted with a leading role in the initial schematic design of a pool-house and back yard storage project. Skylar also completed a ground-up redesign of the firm’s website.

Given his particular training, Skylar was able to advise Pollen on its first in-house development project: a 25,000 SF “creative-office” complex still in the early phases of conceptualization. In that capacity he conducted market analysis, built a detailed pro-forma that leveraged the principals’ sweat-equity and walked the firm through using these tools to help evaluate schematic massing strategies. Doing development work in a design firm setting provided a chance practice a philosophy in which budgetary concerns that would normally lead to cost cutting and site “maximization” are instead placed in dialogue with a constellation of other formal drivers.

Jun 2015 - Sep 2015

The Urban Landscape Lab at Columbia University (ULL), New York, NY, US, Design Associate

Started in 2010 by Janette Kim and Erik Carver at Columbia's Urban Landscape Lab, the Underdome project is:

"…an architect's guide to contending with energy agendas. A cross between an architectural handbook and a voter's guide, the project maps approaches to energy management and performance to examine their implications for public life. Underdome catalogs a spectrum of positions argued for by a diverse cast including economists, environmentalists, community advocates, political scientists, and designers. In turn, it highlights in architecture questions of professional agency, the contemporary city, and collective priorities in the face of uncertain energy futures."

Skylar joined project in its final months, as the team was readying the manuscript of its capstone book, The Underdome Guide to Energy Reform, helping to finalize the 3D modeling of its case study projects and refine the book's final graphic language. Throughout the summer of 2014 Skylar developed and executed the workflow that realized the final illustrations from the 3D models that the team had produced.

Jun 2014 - Sep 2014

Columbia University, New York, NY, US, Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistant for the 1st year drawing series for GSAPP's M. Arch program. Led a section of students in tutorial sessions for working between Rhino 3D, 3DS Max, and the Adobe Creative Suite. Also gave feedback and instruction in a critical approach to architectural representation, prompting students to actively question the efficacy of a given method of representation for the argument they are seeking to advance with a given drawing. Also assisted with a series of visual studies workshops for GSAPP's Advanced Architectural Design (AAD) post-professional degree program.

Sep 2013 - Jun 2014

Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, New York, NY, US, Intern

In June 2011 Estudio Teddy Cruz held the third in its series of conferences on borderland architecture. The Political Equator 3 was focused on border neighborhoods as sites of social and cultural production and was framed around conversations at three sites straddling both sides of the US/Mexico border. Skylar worked with a team of other interns to produce a model that anchored the conversation at the second site: the Tijuana Estuary right at the mouth of Smuggler’s Gulch, a point of entry for those who do not have the privilege to cross the border with papers. The model depicted the gulch on the US side and the “zero setback” condition of Tijuana’s urban fabric clashing against the border fence. After the discussion the attendees crossed the border in to Tijuana through a storm drain.

Skylar also helped to diagram Professor Cruz’s arguments about the micro-politics of neighborhoods and his work with the local community development agency Casa Familiar, as well as to conduct research on the historical and theoretical precedents of Cruz's theories.

May 2011 - Mar 2012

Rebar, San Francisco, CA, US, Apprentice

Research, rendering, design, project logistics, carpentry and construction for San Francisco based, internationally acclaimed art and design collective, best known for originating Park(ing) Day.

Feb 2009 - Sep 2009


SketchUp renderings, client meetings and office duties for a small firm specializing in custom residential projects.

Jun 2005 - Aug 2008


Columbia University, New York, NY, US, Masters, Real Estate

May 2014 - Dec 2015

Columbia University, New York, NY, US, MArch, Architecture

Sep 2012 - Dec 2015

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, US, Bachelors, Architecture

Minor: Global Poverty and Practice

Graduated with High Honors

Senior Thesis: "Divergent Urbanisms:
The political economy of design practice and the agency of the architect."

Sep 2008 - May 2012


William Kinne Traveling Fellowship, Award

These awards are granted on the merit of proposals submitted for travel abroad incorporating the study of architecture, including planning and other specialized aspects of architecture.


CURE Award for Transdisciplinary Work, Award

This award presented by the Dean and the affiliated faculty of the Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE.) is awarded to graduates from the departments of Real Estate Development, Urban Planning and Architecture who have excelled in the advancement of transdisciplinary research in urban development. By dedicating themselves to one or several research projects which balance inquiries and methods relating to design, finance and public policy, this award is given in recognition of a graduate whose contribution can be defined as inspirational, innovative and constructive.


Glascock and van Beuren Graduate Fellowship, Scholarship

The Glascock & van Beuren Fellowship is awarded to a graduate student who is a registered degree candidate in the Department of Real Estate Development. The graduate fellowship was established with the mission of advancing the education of meritorious students whose ambitions and accomplishments set the foundation for the next generations’ leaders in the real estate development industry. The selected Fellow works directly under the direction of the Research Director of CURE over the course of the Fall and Spring semesters in exchange for a partial tuition waiver, a work stipend and a travel stipend. Graduate fellows will be asked to undertake a variety of tasks including but not limited to literature reviews, policy briefs, graphic production and data collection. Successful candidates are those students who possess some combination of superlative skills in real estate finance, urban planning & design, architecture, graphic design, law & public policy analysis.


CED Undergraduate Thesis Prize, Award

The Undergraduate Thesis Prize honors excellent papers composed by undergraduate students for their senior thesis. The students are selected by a jury of architecture faculty members, and are honored for their achievements at the Department of Architecture prizes and awards ceremony.


Fong + Chan Architects Scholarship, Scholarship

The Fong and Chan Architects Undergraduate Scholarship Endowment Fund was established in 1998 with a gift from David G. Fong (B.Arch '68) and Chiu Lin Tse-Chan. Scholarships are offered to undergraduates in the Department of Architecture who demonstrate academic merit and financial need. Fong and Chan Architects is a San Francisco based design firm specializing in architecture, master planning, programming, interior design and other related disciplines for projects ranging from health care to museum facilities.


Camille J. Ehrenfels Scholarship, Scholarship

The Camille J. Ehrenfels Scholarship was established in 1966 by the estate of Camille Johnston Ehrenfels, who attended Cal briefly in the early years of the 20th century. Throughout her life, Camille was an avid supporter of UC Berkeley, volunteering with the Cal Alumni Association for a number of years.


Alumni Leadership Award, Scholarship

Established in 1934, The Leadership Award is a one-year, merit-based scholarship that recognizes undergraduate students at UC Berkeley who demonstrate innovative, initiative-driven leadership impacting their academic, work, or community environments. Students compete for the scholarship every year, ensuring a diverse and dynamic annual cohort of leaders whose work is relevant and newly inspiring.


Areas of Specialization