Alumni Profiles: Vishaan Chakrabarti (MCP 1993)

We recently asked a number of alumni to share their reflections on the value of their DUSP education.  From time to time, we will feature their responses in this space.

DUSP transformed my worldview, giving me a profound understanding of the role cities and their citizens play in creating a more economically prosperous, environmentally resilient, and socially just planet.  This understanding guides me as I navigate the challenges of my profession, and I use my DUSP education every day, thanks to its great faculty: Lois Craig taught me how to write, Julian Beinart taught me how to think, Gary Hack taught me how to achieve, Larry Vale taught me that design is politics, Dennis Frenchman taught me how to read cities, Langley Keys taught me how to argue, Roy Strickland taught me values – the list goes on and on…


Vishaan Chakrabarti, MCP 1993, is an architect, professor and author of A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America (Metropolis Books, 2013).  Vishaan is Holliday Professor and the Director of CURE, the Center for Urban Real Estate, at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation. CURE researches and advocates dense, mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-based, sustainable development for a rapidly urbanizing world.

Simultaneously, Vishaan is also a Partner at SHoP Architects.  Some of SHoP’s projects include the Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, the Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn and a master plan for a new city in Kenya. Previously, Vishaan was an Executive Vice President at the Related Companies where his projects included the Moynihan Station project and Hudson Yards. In addition, he was the inaugural Jaquelin T. Robertson Visiting Professor in Architecture for the University of Virginia in 2009.

From 2002 to 2005, Vishaan served as the Director of the Manhattan Office for the New York Department of City Planning. While with the City, he directed the City's design response to the reconstruction of Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, the expansion of Columbia University into Manhattanville, the makeover of Lincoln Center, the transformation of the High Line, and several other major development proposals in Manhattan. Prior to his work with the City, Vishaan was an Associate Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, as well as a transportation planner at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Vishaan serves on the boards of the Architectural League of New York and Enterprise Community Partners, is a trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission, the Chairman’s Council of New York Restoration Project, and is an emeritus board member of Friends of the High Line. He is also a member of the Young Leaders Forum of the National Council on US-China Relations. Metropolis Magazine named Vishaan one of the top 12 “Game Changers” for 2012. He is a David Rockefeller Fellow and was a Crain’s “40 under 40" in 2000.  Vishaan lives in Manhattan with his wife Maria Alataris, who is a practicing architect, their two children and a dog.

Note: on September 9, Vishaan will be at MIT speaking about his recent book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America.  See for more info.