THE GRID began in 2010 with Renée van Staveren, the Founder of Global Site Plans, blogging about branding, social media, content, and more – all related to environmental designers. Since its inception, the blog has grown to run weekly. Every weekday of the month The Grid is your destination for blogs related to architecture, engineering, environmental non-profits, landscape architecture, and urban planning. With a Featured Blogging staff of five, beginning in March 2011, and growing, Global Site Plans looks forward to providing you free and valuable information that relates to both the individual environmental designer, and firms. Furthermore, we hope that you will join our discussions and comment on what we are saying. Because without you, the reader, we would just be talking to ourselves. Below, please find a brief bio of each blogger.
Renée van Staveren: Editor-in-Chief
Renée van Staveren is the Founder of Global Site Plans. She holds a M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Environmental Planning and Policy from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She also holds a B.S. in Sustainable Community Development from Prescott College. Prior to establishing Global Site Plans and The Grid, Renée van Staveren was an Assistant Planner for A-M-M-A Transit Planning and the Program Director for Planet Green. You can find Renée blogging about featured environmental design firms, providing free website critiques via 15 Days of Fame, plus helping you achieve industry distinction through innovative discussions. Renée currently lives in Istanbul, Turkey; adding to the list of places she has traveled and lived.
Debra Hawryzki: Assistant Editor
Debra Hawryzki is a recent business graduate from the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, where she obtained a concentration in marketing and a publishing minor.Although she grew up in Nanaimo and Victoria, she considers the Greater Vancouver area her home. As can be gleaned from her time at SFU, her interests lie with publishing and marketing. She is also interested in baking, music, and travelling to exotic locations. An avid fiction reader from a young age, Debra’s passion for books has naturally led to her interest in the field of publishing and editing. Volunteering at such events as Word on the Street and the Vancouver Writer’s Fest in her spare time helps Debra stay connected to the world she aspires to one day live and work in full-time. She plans to do a Masters in Publishing in the near future.
Elizabeth Bastian: Assistant Editor
Elizabeth Bastian is currently pursuing a B.A. in Urban and Regional Studies and Anthropology, along with a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems, from the University of Michigan at Dearborn. Growing up in the metro-Detroit area produced in her a vested interest in urban planning, environmental design, and community development. Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for her school newspaper, The Michigan Journal, President of the Cross Country Club on campus, and a member of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, Dearborn chapter. After graduation, she plans on obtaining a Master’s in Urban Planning and becoming an urban planning consultant, acting as a mediator between the neighborhood residents and the city planners.
Meg Ryan: Assistant Editor
Originally from south central Arkansas, Meg Ryan recently moved to Norman, Oklahoma, and is currently searching for a job in her field of interest. While attending the University of Arkansas at Monticello, studying to receive a B.A. in Speech Communication and a minor in English, she gained experience writing and editing for the university’s publications, including their newspaper, The Voice, and The Foliate Oak magazine. Her interests include traveling and reading. Meg hopes to eventually receive her Masters in Communication, and to teach at a college level.
Mary Heberling : Program Support Intern
Mary Heberling is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Planning, Public Policy, and Management with a concentration in Urban Planning, along with, a minor in Business Administration. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, she grew up surrounded by Urban Growth Boundary lines, multiple types of mass transit, and innovative urban bicycle transportation endeavors. It wasn’t until college that she found her passion in the built environment and it’s effects on the public health of communities, especially the use of active and mass transportation. Eventually she would like to receive a Masters in Urban Planning with an emphasis on healthy community planning and urban design. Today she resides in Portland, OR where she will be a Program Support Intern for Global Site Plans.
Joshua Larson: Program Support Intern
As a graduate student in the Urban Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Joshua Larson serves as an Article Editor for e.polis – the university’s online student journal. While pursuing his B.S. in sociology and fine art at Carroll University, he spent a year backpacking through Europe as he studied architectural history, Italian literature, sculpture and painting at the Florence University of the Arts. His aspiration to pursue architecture, combined with his experience with various nonprofits and insistence in social change and environmental conservation redirected his focus towards the inner workings of the city. His concerns center primarily on sustainable community development – the transformation of blighted neighborhoods through Creative Placemaking, grassroots activism, and the organic growth of arts districts. He believes that grassroots activism is essential to transform afflicted areas of the city by promoting community solidarity and increasing social capital, thereby reducing crime and regenerating a neighborhood’s cultural identity.
Aascot Holt is an undergraduate student in Urban and Regional Planning with a minor in Visual Communication Design at Eastern Washington University. She is from Stevenson, Washington and currently lives in Spokane, Washington. Though a plucky little nineteen year old, she is a senior in college and will graduate in the spring of 2013. She is the sole writer for The Comprehensive. Most interested in participatory planning, urban design, historic preservation, and small city/rural planning, she hopes that planning will lead her across the world.
Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country bicycle trip in support of affordable housing. During the trip she became fascinated with connecting communities through the development of safe cycling routes. On a bike, she is constantly thinking about her urban environment and how it can grow to meet the needs of her community. Although currently living in Hummelstown, PA – having recently returned from working on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica – she plans to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in Southern California. Finding happiness through connecting with her community and environment, she is most interested in improving citizen quality of life though: bicycle and pedestrian planning, green street design, and increasing citizen participation in the planning process.
After graduating from Princeton University with an A.B. in Architecture and a Certificate in Urban Studies, Andrew Kinaci set out to the Midwest to break out of the insular world of academia, and into the direct service of non-profit work. After a year working on Chicago’s West Side with a social enterprise specializing in re-entry employment training for ex-felons, Andrew now works for a different organization conducting energy audits of multi-family affordable housing buildings. He will be blogging about the many ways Chicago is seeking a more sustainable and equitable urban future.
Athina Kyrgeorgiou graduated from National Technical University of Athens, Greece as a Civil Engineer with a specialization in Transportation Planning and Engineering. She currently lives in Athens, Greece and is always eager to learn about sustainable ideas and solutions for a better life in her city. A part of her research has been the impact of day-lighting patients’ rooms, which provided her the possibility to research further into bio-climatic design of buildings. She aims to continue her studies with a Master’s degree in transportation and sustainable development. Her blogs will cover environmental issues and urban planning occurring in Athens, but also generally in Greece, trying to analyse them from an engineering point-of-view.
Originally from the North-Central area of California, Bonnie Rodd found herself at home among the creative, participatory, and sometimes off-beat Austinites. She holds a B.A. in Urban Studies with a minor in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary interest is sustainable urban development, focusing on alternative transportation and pedestrianism. Believing that the human element in design is invaluable, she dabbled in some social studies as well. This past spring she explored the three legs of sustainability in her thesis titled “Making a Case for Affordable Housing in Transit-Oriented Developments: Austin, TX” and developed a model for single-family affordable housing delivery in such neighborhoods. Bonnie currently resides in Austin, Texas, and will be exposing readers to environmental design issues present in both Austin and Central Texas.
Courtney McLaughlin is completing her undergraduate degree in Communication Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. An avid traveler, her interests are public space modification in Canadian cities and sustainable urban planning. As an aspiring landscape architect, Courtney is particularly fascinated by the interplay of landscape architecture, public space, and urban power structures. Courtney reports on urban developments in Vancouver, a city frequently named one of the world’s “most live-able” urban locations. Her blog posts explore how this title is maintained through sustainable and accessible urban design decisions that pride themselves on community engagement.
Born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but having spent most of her adult life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.; Jasna Hadzic has been greatly influenced by both cultures, most specifically in terms of architecture, planning, and design. The transition of living in a small European pedestrian-oriented city to a large and vehicle-oriented American city greatly influenced her interest in the field of planning. She came to appreciate the vibrant, culturally diverse and faster-pace of life, while also looking toward her native city as a paradigm of sustainable living with traditional architecture, multi-modal transportation systems, and pedestrian-friendly spaces and streets.A recent Master’s graduate in Community and Regional Planning and G.I.S from Iowa State University, Jasna’s Thesis focused on the analysis of the built environment and demographic factors that influence physical activity, while examining street connectivity and infrastructure. In addition, Jasna holds a B.E.D. in Environmental Design, with a minor in Urban Studies, from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Her most recent work experience as a Planning Research Assistant at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, as well as volunteer work with the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has exposed her to new city projects, as well as community engagement. Her career goal is to not only work directly on sustainable urban design projects, but to also ensure equitable and sustainable planning practices.
Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution.Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University.Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.
Originally from Berlin, Luise Letzner currently pursues a Masters at HafenCity University in Hamburg, Germany, in Urban Planning.She also holds a B.A. in European Studies from Malmö University, Sweden, where she focused on inner-city redevelopment projects, place branding, and the concept of urbanity. She worked as a concept strategist and social media manager for several online agencies and in trend research, where she investigated new forms of communication via mobile and online technology, as well as trends within city marketing. Apart from Sweden, she has lived in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. and is fascinated by different approaches to the creation and use of public spaces within city centres. For The GRID, she will investigate current urban and environmental design projects in Berlin.
Alex Lenhoff is in his final semester of the Masters of Planning in Civic Urbanism program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. His other degrees include anthropology and foreign languages, which provide him with a diverse, human-centered perspective of urban planning. Alex returned to Orlando after spending a few years exploring Europe, teaching English, and attending universities in Germany and Spain. He hopes to use his experiences abroad to further the built environment in Florida through efficient design, environmentally friendly practices, and authentic communities. In the future, he would like to focus on urban development and community building through site plan illustrations, concept renderings, branding, and marketing. For The Grid, Alex will write about Orlando’s challenges and successes, while profiling a city coming into its own.
Devon Paige Willis
Devon Paige Willis is a native Montrealer and recent graduate of McGill University where she did her B.A. in Environment and Political Science. She discovered a passion for urban and transportation planning in her final year, during which time she attended UC Berkeley’s [IN]City introductory urban planning program and completed her honours thesis about cycling in Montreal, specifically measuring bikeability and understanding what affects cyclist satisfaction. She is currently applying to do her Masters in Urban Planning, focusing on sustainable transportation and is especially interested in urban planning and transportation in suburban environments. She spearheaded the Vélobstacles project, which aims to crowd source data about obstacles in the road network for cyclists to make cycling safer in the city.
Finbar Gillen is an undergraduate student in Environmental Planning at Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has a budding interest in urban planning and design and renewable energy developments. He is currently undertaking a voluntary placement in a private consulting firm which specializes in wind farm developments. He plans on obtaining a planning position within a renewable energy firm. His hobbies mainly revolve around sport and socializing with friends, though he has a keen interest in soccer and Gaelic football and plays for both local clubs. Finbar will be blogging about renewable energy schemes and how environmentally, socially, and financially viable they are. This is particularly relevant to Northern Ireland, where the government is aiming for 40% of their electricity to come from alternative energy sources by 2020. This figure currently stands in and around 10%. After attending a field-trip in Amsterdam this year his planning interests widened and has now a keen interest in elements that contribute to a healthy city; in particular bike policies.
Geoff Bliss grew up in Woodstock, New York and will soon graduate from the Master of Community Planning program at the University of Cincinnati with a focus in Physical Planning. He holds a B.S. in Applied Arts & Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology where he studied Political Science & Archaeology. With broad interests in urban planning, Geoff is interested in the relationship between sustainable development, urban archaeology public art, and DIY Urbanism. As a The Grid Blogger, Geoff will be reporting on a wide range of urban planning & urban design topics in the greater New York City area.
James Gardner is a graduate student in Urban and Environmental Planning at Arizona State University. Growing up in a small, sprawling town in Arizona, James became attracted to the field of planning and design by taking a critical look at his surroundings, and realizing there is a better way to live. With a Bachelors in Public Planning from Northern Arizona University, James has received extensive education in planning, and has worked as a Planner for Yavapai County, Arizona. James is currently focused on the health effects of the built environment in the Phoenix Metro area, and the integration of this focus into topics of transportation, bicycle, and pedestrian planning. James hopes to become a Planner who advocates for a healthier built environment in order to make the cities we live in more vibrant and habitable.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Jennifer García now enjoys the energy and quality of life that Miami has to offer. Professionally, she uses traditional architecture and the principles of New Urbanism in her consulting work at Garcia Design Studio. Based on careful research, she designs each project within the context of the local architectural language, distinct culture, and regional settlement patterns. She proudly holds aMaster of Architecture from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Traveling has taught her to immerse herself into each place’s history, culture, traditions, and how they contribute to the range of urbanism and local vernacular. She also enjoys blogging as a local transit advocate for Transit Miami. Her daily bicycle commutes reinforce her belief in nurturing a living urbanism with livable streets.
Jessica Yoon is a native Oregonian, currently residing in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University, where she became interested in how great places can promote both equity and prosperity. She is primarily interested in how smart planning and design initiatives, combined with inspired real estate development projects, can create wonderful urban places for people to live, work, and thrive. Jessica reports on new initiatives and urban developments in New Orleans, where a fast pace of progress raises hope for a vibrant future for the city and region. Beyond her work as a marketing professional and blogger, Jessica enjoys riding her bicycle, eating her way through the city’s food scene, and listening to economics podcasts.
Katherine (Katie) Poppel comes to The Grid as a student constantly on the go. Set to graduate from the University of Cincinnati in 2014, she is studying for a bachelor of urban planning with focuses in urban design and sustainability. Her program has allowed her to work for the City of Chicago and the Congress for New Urbanism this past year, as well as study abroad at the University of Amsterdam, College of Social Sciences. In her free time, you can find her exploring cities, playing soccer, or skiing. She has a serious case of wanderlust and enjoys the rush of cities over the countryside. Katie writes from Colorado, as she interns for the small town of Buena Vista south of Denver.
Lisa Gran is an undergraduate student studying Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As an aspiring engineer, Lisa is especially interested in the utilization and development of environmentally sound materials in sustainable planning and design. As she progresses in her studies, she is finding more and more that her passion lies in sustainable urban design and engineering principles, drawing inspiration from cities around the globe. Although reporting from the mid-western city of Lincoln, Lisa is setting out to explore how Lincoln is becoming a place of innovation for sustainability.
Maxwell Vidaver is a graduate student in Urban Planning, Policy, and Design at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy, and also holds a B.A. in Geography from Binghamton University, where he focused on urban economic analysis. He is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, and developed an early passion for urban planning and environmental design as an avid cyclist, mechanic, and commuter. His planning interests include exploring alternative transportation options, maximizing energy efficiency in new urban projects, and improving access between city users and government. Max’s goals are to help promote smart design initiatives, and facilitate community-city collaboration in order to create more sustainable, as well as comfortable, urban environments.
Meg Mulhall is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She calls Kalamazoo, Michigan her hometown but is currently exploring community organizing and urban planning efforts in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan. Planning to pursue a degree in either public policy or political science, Meg is interested in the relationship between government and non-governmental organizations and how those relationships can help remedy the lack of responsible and smart planning-related policies.
An Oakland, California native, Michael Jenkins is a recent post graduate from the University of Nottingham Business School with a Masters in Business Administration. Jenkins’ interest in urban regeneration and town planning sprouted during a visit to China. It was there that Michael met with firms that combined business consulting with innovative urban designs stimulating economic growth. He believes economic development can be generated through the connections between city council, local business, and education as he saw modeled in China. Currently residing in Nottingham, England, Michael spots similarities between Nottingham and Oakland, as well as opportunities for development and growth. He aims to bring transformational solutions for city improvement. Michael’s areas of focus lay within town planning, urban regeneration, and human capital. During his off time, Michael enjoys backpacking, outdoor adventures, vinyasa yoga, and completing items off his bucket list.
Sean Glowacz holds a Masters of Urban Planning and Public Policy degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Sean spent two years at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning as a Research Assistant. His work focused on various tasks related to the GO TO 2040 plan, the comprehensive regional plan to help Chicagoland’s seven counties and 284 communities plan for sustainable prosperity through mid-century and beyond. Sean is currently employed by Kane County as a Land Use Planner, primarily working on their Quality of Kane campaign, an effort to help bring Healthy People, Healthy Living, and Healthy Communities to Kane County through cutting-edge planning policies and practices. Currently residing in Chicago, Sean will be introducing readers to an array of urban planning projects that are taking place throughout the Chicagoland area.
Steven Chang is a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His interest in urban planning began in his hometown of Rowland Heights, California (near Los Angeles), when he noticed that his community, a predominantly ethnic suburb, was very different from other cities he had traveled to. He is very interested in every aspect of urban planning, especially in the way people influence and are influenced by the city fabric. He hopes to one day pursue a Masters of Urban Planning, focusing on economic development and housing. He is also very excited to bring the bustling activity of the San Francisco Bay Area to The Grid!
Steven Petsinis is an Urban Planning graduate from Melbourne, Australia. He has been involved in Urban Research and Development projects in Medellin, Colombia and Saigon, Vietnam and is currently pursuing his masters in Melbourne, Australia. His main interests lie in land use and social planning, sustainability, as well as studies involving globalization and it’s effect on third world communities. He has recently spent one year travelling throughout North and South America, as well as Europe, where he has gathered material and inspiration for his upcoming blogs for The Grid.
Sunny Menozzi’s military duties have taken her to diverse and exciting places; from Singapore to Arizona, South Korea to Afghanistan, and North Carolina to Hawaii. Sunny’s travels inspired her interest in cities, especially how they function, the impact of the built environment on the residents, the methods planners employ to shape natural features, and the vibrancy that can be cultivated by good planning and design. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in planning with a focus on re-use and historic preservation, community-building, and economic and environmental sustainability. She hopes to contribute to projects that re-purpose military bases. An avid runner, Sunny is interested in the design of recreational trails and policies that encourage the development of walkable communities. She holds a B.S. in International Relations and Russian from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Dafni Dimitriadi is a student of Architecture at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Her numerous experiences participating in architectural competitions has helped her understand the importance of research and design. She is interested in building and urban design restoration and aims to continue her studies in order to gain more knowledge related to these fields. She is an active volunteer and has participated in many interesting projects, including Open House Thessaloniki. Currently, she lives in Thessaloniki and through her blogs aims to explore developments associated with architecture and urban design.
Alkisti Victoratou originates from Andros, a Cycladic island in Greece, and has lived and studied in Thessaloniki, England, Spain, and Athens – where she currently resides. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and in Architecture from the National Technical University of Athens. Having this multicultural and interdisciplinary background gives her a better understanding of socially sensitive urban issues. Her dissertation thesis in Architecture dealt with the study and assessment of the legislation relating to Bioclimatic Architecture in the European Mediterranean countries of France, Spain, and Greece. Her interests also extend to sustainable technologies and parametric design, contributing to building design and urbanism. During her internship with The Grid, she will concentrate on the most important top-down and bottom-up urban transformations of Athens during their current Crisis. Her aspirations are to further her academic and professional specializations in urban issues and sustainable design.
Amanda Bosse is currently in the Master of Architecture program at the University of Washington. Growing up in the Midwest, she became interested in the dialogue between the individual structures and the urban fabric (including those structures not typically designed by architects). With a background in both architecture and urban design, Amanda is primarily interested in applying architectural thinking to solve larger scale design problems.
A Large Thank You to Previous Global Site Plans Blogging Contributors:
Evan Comen, Michael Lytton, Jamaal Davis, Jordan Rockerbie, Matthew Traucht, Ellen Schwaller, Kennith George, Wanyi Song, Selin Mutdoğan, Patricia Kent, Alexandria Stankovich, Akua Nyame-Mensah, Miriam Ansorena, Lillian Mathews, Nazlı Ödevci, Erman Eruz, Alex Banuelos, Jeff Jilek, Jordan Meerdink, Benjamin Ha, Ubaid Khan, Christine Camilleri, Ashley Roberts, Nina Coveney, Sarah Thomas, Barrett Lane, Yosef Robinson, Laura Paterson, Daniel Sheehan, Shelley Rekte, Paul Drummond, Jessica DeVries, Nidia Garcia-Erceg, Ryan Champlin, and Pamela Abee-Taulli.
Global Site Plans is consistently seeking new bloggers for The Grid. If you are a student or professional with a passion and talent for writing about architecture, engineering, urban planning, landscape architecture, and related fields, and are able to make a minimum 6-month commitment, then Global Site Plans wants you as a contributing blogger. Visit http://www.globalsiteplans.com/internship for more details.