Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of the Columbia Center for Urban Real Estate since 2009, has been appointed a partner at SHoP Architects effective immediately. The seventh partner (and only the second not related to the firm’s founders by blood or marriage), Chakrabarti will focus on large-scale urban projects, drawing on his years of expertise through such on-going endeavors as Related Companies’ involvement with the Moynihan Station project and development at Hudson Yards. (While he will remain director of the Columbia real estate program, he will forgo his consultancy with Related.)
“We are thrilled to have Vishaan join the firm. His background and depth of experience allow SHoP to add expertise to our bench while continuing our firm-wide focus on both planning and building,” said William Sharples, SHoP Partner, in a statement, adding that the firm wants now to pay closer attention to the public realm and the consequences of building “through use of public space, density, sustainability, and innovative construction methods.” The aim, according to the press release is “to reinvent urbansim.”
Few design professionals have parlayed their careers and urban interests as expertly as Chakrabarti, who served as head of the Manhattan office of the Department of City Planning from 2002 to 2004—heyday of the Doctoroff pro-development years—then became executive vice president of design and planning for Related in 2008 before joining Columbia.
A vocal advocate of urban density and public-private partnerships, Chakrabarti wrote in his Country of Cities column—soon to be a book— for the website Urban Omnibus website on such issues as Tokyo as a model of dense development and the ethical binds implicit in energy development, writing in “Spill, Baby, Spill”: “Do we have the strength to reject the threat that is oil, both foreign and domestic? Do we have the vision to recognize that we have seen the enemy, and it is the suburban house? Do we have the will to embrace high-density living as the only solution, the only land use that limits our energy use, our healthcare costs, our vulnerability to petro-dictators, and our free fall into a sprawling national deficit?” In a recent issue, Metropolis magazine named him a “Game Changer of 2012”
Chakrabarti joins SHoP Architects now steeped in a number of large-scale projects with urban impacts, ranging from heralded to controversial, from the East River Waterfront and the redevelopment of South Street Seaport to Atlantic Yards. Local projects in the office are for Google, Goldman Sachs, Columbia and the Fashion Institute of Technology, while the firm has also worked abroad on large-scale projects in Japan, China, Korea, and India.
Chakrabarti is quoted in the press release announcement: “It is an honor and a thrill for me to join SHoP Architects, a firm that since its inception has redefined practice, and is now poised to design and build some of the most significant large-scale projects in the world. In the urban age that is upon us, we need the very best practitioners and I have long believed that SHoP offers to New York and the world an unsurpassed 21st Century vision of design and technology.”