Posted on May 26, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research
Image still from In Plain Sight

In Plain Sight, a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with the Center for Spatial Research, will open on May 26, 2018 in Venice, Italy.

The installation is conceived and designed for Dimensions of Citizenship, the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago. The installation will be on view through November 25.

In Plain Sight presents anomalies in population distribution seen in nighttime satellite imagery of Earth and census grid counts produced by governments worldwide — revealing places with bright lights and no people and places with people and no lights—thus, challenging our assumptions about geographies of belonging and exclusion.

Several events are planned during the opening weekend, May 24-27, featuring project collaborators Laura Kurgan, Elizabeth Diller, Robert Pietrusko. See the full schedule of events on the Dimensions of Citizenship website here.

Posted on April 12, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research
Urban Floods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Urban Floods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Thursday, April 12, 2018
6:30-8:30pm, followed by a reception
2911 Broadway
A conversation on climate and catastrophe with Solomon Hsiang, University of California, Berkley and Saskia Sassen, Columbia University

Friday, April 13, 2018
2911 Broadway
All day conference.

Full schedule and link to registration is available here.

The Center is pleased to support the Initiative on Extreme Weather & Climate as they present: Urban Floods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

This unique conference seeks to bridge the gap between physical scientists – who draw on physical observations, quantitative data analysis, computer simulation, and visualization – and social scientists and humanists who focus on participant observation, case studies, and other interpretive methods.

Our focus for this conference is the relationship between physical development choices and environmental risk, with specific focus on large-scale urban floods.

This one-day conference will address major urban floods, past, present and future. The goal is to understand these events in as holistic a way as possible, considering scientific and humanist questions together, and informed by historical context. We will focus on global linkages between extreme weather events, with a focus on South Asia and the United States. We ask how these disasters reflect the confluence of urban development decisions, natural climate variability, and human-induced climate change. What are the relative roles of urban development decisions, e.g., reclamation, zoning, patterns of land use and urbanization, natural climate variability, and human-induced climate change? How does scientific knowledge and risk get translated and how does the answer depend on where we are in the world and the historical context of local priorities? What do these events of the recent past teach us about the future, when these cities will be increasingly encroached upon by rising seas?

The conference is envisioned as the first in a series on the theme of Science and Global Urbanism organized through the Center for Science and Society, and the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate.

Supported by ISERP with co-sponsorship by Center for the Study of Social Difference, the Center for Spatial Research, and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.

Full schedule and link to registration is available here.

Posted on April 5, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

The Art of Storytelling
Thursday, April 5, 2018, 10:00am-2:30pm
Davis Auditorium, Shapiro Hall

The Center is pleased to co-sponsor The Art of Storytelling, a half-day conference on data visualization convened by the Columbia University Libraries.

“We are almost two decades into the 21st Century and living in a dense forest of information.  Making our way through means filtering and processing vast quantities of tangled and interconnected data, and in order to do this successfully, we must be able to see the information in meaningful ways, to be understood and shared with others. Ultimately, we must do what we've done for millennia -- we must tell stories.”

Full program and registration is available here.

Posted on February 26, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking student candidates for both full-time and part-time positions during Summer 2018.

Students will be responsible for data analysis, visualization, map design, and research on projects dealing with our current research focus: conflict urbanism. Students will work extensively with spatial data including mining and analyzing data, processing and collecting data, and/or visualizing data in compelling and innovative ways.  Working in close collaboration with principal investigators, students will produce work for inclusion in papers, multi-media projects, and exhibitions.

Candidates must have experience with GIS and Adobe Creative Suite. In addition, a working knowledge of some of the following tools is a plus: Processing, Python, D3, R, APIs, Microsoft Access, SQL, Stata/SPSS, HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

We are seeking candidates who have experience with computational tools but are also eager to acquire additional skills through the course of their internship. CSR researchers will mentor successful candidates and match them with projects which help them build additional fluencies with computational methods.

Full-time positions are 35 hours per week for up to twelve weeks. Part-time work will be negotiated by student/project. All positions are $15/hour. Please note, positions are only available for continuing students at Columbia University. Positions open to both graduate and undergraduate students. 

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to with the subject "Application: Summer 2018 Student Positions". 

Applications will be reviewed in the order there are received. 

Posted on February 9, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

Ways of Knowing Cities

Friday, February 9, 2018, 9:30 am
Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall

Pre-registration is now closed, the auditorium seating is first come first served. Registration does not guarantee seating. The conference will be live streamed to Ware Lounge in Avery Hall and online at

See for full schedule.

Technology increasingly mediates the way that knowledge, power, and culture interact to create and transform the cities we live in. Ways of Knowing Cities is a one-day conference which brings together leading scholars and practitioners from across multiple disciplines to consider the role that technologies have played in changing how urban spaces and social life are structured and understood – both historically and in the present moment. 

Keynote lectures by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Trevor Paglen

Participating Speakers
Simone BrowneMaribel Casas-Cortés,  Anita Say ChanSebastian Cobarrubias,  Orit HalpernCharles Heller,  Shannon Mattern, V. Mitch McEwenLeah Meisterlin,  Nontsikelelo MutitiDietmar OffenhuberLorenzo PezzaniRobert Pietrusko, and Matthew Wilson.

From John Snow’s cholera maps of London and the design of the radio network in Colonial Nigeria to NASA’s composite images of global night lights, the way the city and its inhabitants have been comprehended in moments of technological change has always been deeply political. Representations of the urban have been sites of contestation and violence, but have also enabled spaces of resistance and delight. Our cities have been built and transformed through conflict, and the struggle is as much informational and representational as it is physical and bodily. Today, the generation and deployment of data is at the forefront of projects to reshape our cities, for better and for worse. As a consequence, responding to urban change demands critical literacy in technology, and particularly data technologies. The conference addresses itself to the deep ambivalence of interventions in the urban, as it explores the ways that knowledge regimes have impacted the built world. In this sense, it seeks to catalyze more robust, creative, and far-reaching ways to think about the relationship between the urban and the information systems that enable, engage and express the city.

Please note, seating will be first come, first serve. Registration does not guarantee seating. The event will be livestreamed in Ware Lounge, Avery Hall and on

Support for Ways of Knowing Cities is provided through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and hosting by Columbia GSAPP.


Posted on January 8, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce a call for applications for a full-time Associate Research Scholar position for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The position, within the Center for Spatial Research (CSR) will focus on critical work with Geographic Information Systems and design for a new grant-funded project mapping historical New York. We invite applications from candidates with a strong interest in interdisciplinary work whose research practices combine GIS-based methods and strong visual design. The position is for one year and renewable for up to three additional semesters.

The position will report to the Director of CSR and will be part of a collaborative project team between CSR and the Department of History. The incumbent will work closely with a postdoctoral fellow in History and Principal Investigators to: develop methodologies for historical geographic information systems research, including geocoding census records; create compelling visualizations of research outcomes for broad public audiences; participate in writing and creating maps and visualizations for papers and other publications in journal and multimedia formats; and develop curricula and teaching materials related to this research. Successful candidates must have experience and interest in using GIS-based research practices to open up new questions in, and modes of representation of, urban environments.

Position Qualifications:

Candidates must hold a Master’s degree or the equivalent. Successful candidates will have robust experience with GIS-based research, and methodology design as well as a range of other computational tools for urban research and must be eager to acquire additional skills through their work with CSR. Experience with historical GIS research is a plus.

The Center’s projects typically draw on a range of tools including: GIS (ESRI and Open Source); R; Python; Adobe Creative Suite; mapping and visualization libraries such as Leaflet, Processing, D3, APIs, HTML5, CSS and Javascript. The candidate is not required to know all of these tools, but a willingness to learn new software, the most up to date tools, and a collaborative spirit is a requirement of the job.

Candidates will have the ability to do collaborative and cross-disciplinary research and the ability to convey specialized knowledge to students and faculty working in the Center. Candidates should demonstrate ability to show how their own fields of specialty intersect with or bring new tools and research methods to research in the urban humanities. Preferred qualifications include publication in recognized media and conference presentations.

Candidates for professional officer of research positions are expected to have established their ability to conduct original, independent research a field of the humanities. Associate research scholars' qualifications and contributions to their fields of research must be equivalent to those of an assistant professor.

Please visit our online application site at:

for further information about this position and to submit your application. You will be asked to submit your 1-2 page letter of interest, CV, and a portfolio which demonstrates your work and research experiences. Review of applications will begin February 1, 2018 and continue until the position is filled.

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Posted on December 19, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce a new $1 million grant recieved from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to create web-based, interactive maps of Manhattan and Brooklyn during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The three-year project is a collaboration of Columbia’s History Department and the Columbia Center for Spatial Research in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP).

Mapping Historical New York will create digitized maps of the two boroughs as well as detailed neighborhood case studies. The maps will capture two major transformations of the city at the turn of the 20th century: demographic changes resulting from immigration; and changes in land use resulting from the incorporation of parts of Long Island (Brooklyn and Queens) into city in the 1890s. The website and maps created by the project will be freely accessible to the public.

The project aims to both create the interactive maps and to train faculty and students in digital research and teaching methods, by incorporating them into the project’s design and execution and in courses on New York, immigration, and urban history.

The principal investigators for the project are Mae Ngai, Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History; Rebecca Kobrin, Russell and Bettina Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History; and Laura Kurgan, Associate Professor of Architecture and Director of the Center for Spatial Research.

Seth Schwartz, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Classical Jewish Civilization and chair of the History Department, said, “Thanks to the Gardiner foundation, we have an exciting opportunity to use cutting-edge digital methods in historical research and teaching. We look forward to collaborating with the Center for Spatial Research in GSAPP.”

"GSAPP has a long legacy of studying housing and preservation in New York City, and it will be exciting for the university's research to be made more accessible through Laura Kurgan's Center for Spatial Research and its pioneering forms of visualization," said Amale Andraos, Dean of Columbia GSAPP.

Read the full press release here.

Posted on November 27, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

With the Dean of Humanities we are pleased to invite interested Columbia University faculty and doctoral candidates to participate in Mapping for the Urban Humanities: A Summer Institute.

Mapping for the Urban Humanities is a two-week skills-building workshop in critical cartography, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is designed to expand the disciplinary locations within which spatial knowledge in the urban humanities is produced and interpreted. Workshop participants will learn key skills in mapping, data collection, and data visualization that they can incorporate into their research and teaching. Space is limited. Interested faculty and doctoral candidates are encouraged to apply by January 31, 2018.

The Summer 2018 session will be held from 1:00-5:30pm, May 21-June 1, 2018 with an optional third week practicum from June 4-8. No class will be held on Memorial Day, May 28. 

Eligibility: This course is open to faculty, research scholars and doctoral candidates from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Barnard College. 

If you have questions about your eligibility or about whether your course or research project is a good fit for the institute, please do not hesitate to reach out to Dare Brawley ( at the Center for Spatial Research. 

How to Apply: Interested faculty and doctoral candidates should apply by sending the following materials to by January 31, 2018.

  • 1-2 page statement that describes your interest in taking the institute, and includes a description of the course or research topic you hope to workshop during the summer intensive. 
  • CV 

More information about the course, including materials from prior iterations of the institute, is available here.

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce a call for applications for Associate Research Scholars for the 2018-2019 academic year as part of the Andrew W Mellon Foundation funded initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities.

We invite applications from candidates whose intellectual interests are situated within the broad urban humanities, who have strong digital, visual, and multidisciplinary research practices, and are enthusiastic about collaborative working environments. The appointment is one year, with the possibility of a second year depending on funding.

Two Associate Research Scholars will be appointed: one position is open to candidates with training in the design disciplines, and one is open to candidates with training in a field(s) of the humanities. 

Successful candidates must have experience and interest in using qualitative as well as quantitative data to open up new questions in the urban humanities. The incumbents will contribute to projects underway at CSR, work on independent research on a topic(s) proposed by the incumbent, as well as contribute to the design and teaching of the Center’s workshop and seminar courses.

For further information and to apply for the position for candidates from fields in the humanities please visit:

For further information and to apply for the position for candidates from the design fields please visit:

You will be asked to submit a 1-2 page letter of interest, 2 page proposal for the project(s) you would hope to complete at the Center, CV, and portfolio which demonstrates your work and research focus.

Review of applications will begin immediately.

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Posted on November 3, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research, with Urban Omnibus, has just published an interactive map that locates the diverse sites and institutions that comprise the New York City criminal justice system. The map is part of Urban Omnibus’s new series, The Location of Justice, which examines “the pervasive and often overlooked infrastructure of criminal justice in New York and the spaces that could serve a more just city.”

The map was built and designed by Laura Kurgan, Juan Saldarriaga, and Jochen Hartmann at the Center for Spatial Research based on data that was originally compiled by Emily Schmidt of the Architectural League. Additional research contributions were made by Olivia Schwob, Ayluonne Terieszkiewicz, Maya Tellman, and Nishant Jacob.

For more information and to view the map visit Urban Omnibus here