Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Cambridge MA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master of Science in Transportation (MST); Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Master of City Planning (MCP) 2010-2013
Winner of the Flora Crockett Stephenson Writing Prize from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning upon graduation.
Yale University | New Haven CT Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, with Distinction 2004-2008
Hillside High School | Durham NC Valedictorian, National Merit Scholar, International Baccalaureate Diploma 2000-2004
Worked with Professor Lawrence Vale on American public housing history.
Worked with Professors John Attanucci and Nigel Wilson on London’s Underground.
American public housing since 1937 is often viewed as a single failed experiment of architecture, management, and policy. This view masks a much more highly differentiated experience for residents and housing authorities, rooted in a long-term moral and ideological struggle over the place of the poorest residents in American cities. This article reframes public housing history as a succession of informal social experiments: initial public efforts to clear out slum-dwellers and instead accommodate barely poor working-class tenants or the worthy elderly; a 30-year interlude, where public housing authorities consolidated the poorest into welfare housing while gradually shifting responsibility for low-income housing to private landlords, private developers, and private investors; and a series of partnerships since 1990 that reserve more of this public-private housing for a less-poor constituency. Empirically, this article provides an unprecedented graphic glimpse into the ways that the overall mode-share of public housing has shifted and diversified. Ultimately, this article reveals that the reduced role of the public sector has curtailed the growth of deeply subsidized housing provision to the lowest-income Americans.
Today, New York City’s Roosevelt Island stands as living proof that the public sector can produce a mixed-income and mixed-race neighborhood from scratch. Its successes contrast with typical perceptions of government housing failure and indicate that with determined leadership, stable funding, and a good location, the public sector can create healthy, heterogeneous neighborhoods. This article examines the process of designing and constructing Roosevelt Island to illustrate how and why local actors took advantage of favorable conditions and made important political choices to achieve their commitments, even as political and financial support for such developments deteriorated. In light of the often dismal reputation of government housing policy in the United States, Roosevelt Island’s success—unique in its mixed-income legacy—offers lessons about effective city governance in the face of dwindling national support.
This website was created in October 2008 and tracks the state of transit in the U.S. and around the world. The site’s goal is to explore the intricate relationships between transportation projects and politics, both at the national and local levels.
Thanks to work on the site, Yonah Freemark has been interviewed for articles in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Miller-McCune, CNN, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Politico, City Journal, Remapping Debate, National Review Online, and The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. In addition, he has been interviewed for television by Al Jazeera America; for radio by Science Friday, WUSF (I, II), KPBS, KCRW, WNYC, WNPR, and WBUR; and online for the Infra Blog.
Swaleway: A Proposal for Water Infrastructure Improvements in Lincoln, NE
For Alan Berger’s Landscape + Urbanism Workshop at MIT in Spring 2012.
The goal of Swaleway is to provide a secondary urban water circulation system that offers the beneficial side effect of encouraging the redevelopment of a significant portion of Lincoln, Nebraska’s currently less desirable areas. By using swales implanted along the edge and in the median of the city’s streets, the project seeks to slow or eliminate runoff into the river system and bring landscaped areas to neighborhoods throughout the city — specifically those with limited park access today.
The swales are connected to expanded park spaces within the 100-year watershed and along the city’s creeks and rivers, serving both recreational and storm water holding functions. The project takes advantage of developer interest in building adjacent to green spaces to rebuild communities suffering from an overabundance of parking lots or underdeveloped land. The end product is a city with better control of its storm water and more attractive neighborhoods.
Though Swaleway will be insufficient to absorb all of the storm water produced during a major flooding event, it will be able to absorb a large percentage (about 2/3rd) of runoff from impervious land in the 100-year flood zone during typical rain events. During the most major storms, the system may be able to prevent a disaster by taking in about 7.5% of total rain water produced in the area.
As an added benefit, the larger swales located in the median of major arterials (the “water thoroughfares”) are designed to be able to handle snow storage during the winter, reducing the amount of plowing and snow removal currently required on these transportation axes.
A neighborhood improvement plan for East Boston. Goal of the project was to document the needs and opportunities in a transitioning urban neighborhood. A series of community meetings, a survey of dozens of inhabitants, and a catalogue of existing conditions, produced a plan that encouraged both physical and social improvements in the neighborhood. Work was completed in coordination with the East Boston Main Streets organization. Specific features of the plan include an improved streetscape with more street trees and signage, the installation of a new median and public art at the Porter Street Gateway, and the creation of a neighborhood-wide, multi-ethnic annual celebration.
With the Spring 2011 MIT Main Streets Practicum class, taught by Karl Seidman and Andrew Grace. Class members were Elaine Braithwaite, Yang Chen, Rob Crauderueff, Rebecca Economos, Maricarmen Esquivel, Joe Jenkins, Marcie Parkhurst, Stefanie Ritoper, Farzana Serang, Jeremy Steinemann, Marran Swartwood, Athena Ullah, Matthew Weinstein, and Danny Yadegar.
Economic Development Through Infrastructure: A Visual Case Study of a Major Transportation Investment
With Stephen Kennedy, Naomi Stein, and Dominick Tribone.
Project attempts to analyse the economic development effects of a transit project completed in the Denver region in 2000, the Southeast light rail extension. By comparing datasets, the project shows how population and employment varied between different stations on the new line between 2000 and 2010. It portrays a transit program that generally allowed the areas near the line to avoid many of the negative effects of the recession in comparison with the rest of the metropolitan area.
Cooper Crossing: a proposal for an affordable housing development in Waltham, MA.
Worked with the WATCH CDC in Waltham and community residents through attendance at a series of public meetings.
With Elaine Braithwaite, Charles Harris, Ann Huang, Jeff Morgan, Marcie Parkhurst, Kathleen Thornton, and Danny Yadegar.
Cooper Crossing is a 165-unit mixed-income housing development that will transform a vacant three-acre contaminated lot into a vibrant residential community along the Charles River in downtown Waltham, Massachusetts. Located within a quarter- mile of several public transit options and just around the corner from the vibrant Moody Street commercial district, Cooper Crossing responds to residents’ demand for affordable housing in a highly convenient downtown location.
Recognizing the site’s high potential for mixed-use transit-oriented development, the project proposes to rezone the site from light industrial to a Chapter 40(R) smart growth district.
The site design for Cooper Crossing was developed in partnership with MetroWest Collaborative Developers, an alliance of four established community development corporations that are pooling their resources in order to develop affordable housing more effectively and efficiently. The proposed design complements existing land uses in the area while meeting local demand for additional housing, open space, and community amenities.
The development is comprised of 165 efficiencies, one-, two, and three-bedroom units available at a range of affordability levels. Five percent of the units are affordable to moderate-income households earning at or below 80% of area median income (AMI); 45% are affordable to those earning at or below 60% AMI; and 10% receive deep subsidies making them available to households earning at or below 30% AMI.
The development is financed through a combination of cross-subsidization from market rate units (40% of total units), Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Section 8 vouchers, and a host of additional federal, state, local and private funding sources.
Cooper Crossing offers a range of amenities that contribute to the residential experience, including a café and art space, a computer lab, a community gathering space, job training services, English language courses, and a bike sharing station. Additionally, the site design connects the development to the riverfront and repairs one of the only interruptions in the popular Charles River Bike Path, a 12-mile trail that runs from Newton to Boston.
The redevelopment of Cooper Crossing reclaims a former industrial site and reintegrates it into the natural environment.
A one-year predevelopment phase, during which environmental testing and remediation will be completed, sets the stage for the construction of a highly environmentally sensitive building. Careful consideration of sustainable design elements - such as massing that maximizes the benefits of passive solar, photovoltaic panels on the roof, and rainwater harvesting - qualify the development for LEED Gold certification.
For Fred Salvucci’s Urban Transportation Planning course at MIT.
Projects evaluated existing conditions in Somerville, Massachusetts and the Boston region in general, including demographic and travel data. Analysis specifically involved traffic counting at the intersection of McGrath Highway and Washington Street. As part of projects, plans for a renewal of Union Square were developed and the replacement of McGrath Highway with a surface-level boulevard was plotted out.
Part of work completed in conjunction with Alexandra Malikova and Jong Wai Tommee
MIT-Tsinghua Clean Energy Cities Workshop: New Clean Energy Urban Forms, January 2011
Taught by Dennis Frenchman, Jan Wampler, and Chris Zegras. Project conducted with Zhai Bingzhe, Veronica Hannan, and Peng Huang.
"Stalagmite City" project attempted to develop a new urban form for a developing district in Jinan, China, near the new high-speed rail station. Project was designed to maximize passive sunlight and avoid shadows in residential sections. Buildings were oriented to block high winds.
The project would take up a city block with a canal running through it. Uses would be exclusively commercial and public on the ground floor. Pedestrian-only access would be offered throughout most of the area, with an esplanade along the canal and a commodious public square. Mid-level floors would be comprised of office and public spaces, with residential increasing as a proportion of buildings higher up. Towers, designed to accomodate city’s burgeoning central business district, would be office space.
A primary goal of the project was to allow pedestrian circulation at multiple levels and to provide cascading buildings that allowed for large amounts of open garden space rising into the sky. Some of these spaces would be public, though most would be private to residents of the adjoining apartments.
For Dean Sakamoto and Sophia Gruzdy’s Architecture Studio II Course at Yale.
A new penthouse, constructed atop architect Paul Rudolph’s 53rd Street townhouse in New York City, would have to be prefabricated and easily assembled on site. Here is presented an ideal solution: a series of factory-built ovular rings, about 15 feet wide and 8 feet tall, that can be connected with one another either directly, or at 45 or 90 degree angles. The resulting form is one that can be easily customized to suit the needs of this roof or readapted for any other environment.
With Alice Tai and Vanessa Stockton. For Dean Sakamoto and Sophia Gruzdy’s Architecture Studio II course at Yale.
The National Tropical Botanical Garden, on Kauai in Hawaii, needs more housing for its employees. This project’s purpose is to develop a series of ecologically responsible huts that can be used for up to eight in- terns. This proposal incorporates a number of useful features, including roof gardens, two levels of circulation, and a large shade roof for hot days. The project would be constructed of locally-sourced, renewable materials.
For Emanuel Petit’s architectural analysis course at Yale.
Rafael Moneo’s art museum at Wellesley University served as the basis for a series of studies. These exercises were intended to help expand understanding of circulation, program, and connections within buildings.