A series of upscale buildings next to sheet metal neighborhoods.

The Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities transfers knowledge to action to build more equitable and sustainable cities today and in the future. The center connects our creative, design, and analytical capacities to produce new action-oriented research and innovation that have the power to scale and transform cities.

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News

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Major Gift Endows Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities in AAP

A foundational gift has endowed and named the Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities at AAP, advancing research, teaching, and partnerships dedicated to fostering more sustainable and just cities. The largest single gift to AAP to date, in the amount of $25 million from alumna Mui Ho (B.Arch. '66), secures in perpetuity the center's long-term future and strengthens its mission to catalyze urban transformation through actionable knowledge about how to better plan, design, and build thriving cities.

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Areas Of Work

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A Focus on Innovation

Innovation takes many forms and cuts across the center's three main work areas that:

  • Provide actionable knowledge to urban leaders, policymakers, and change agents to address the most urgent and entrenched problems cities face.
  • Support strategic partnerships and collaborations with diverse stakeholders to link knowledge to action and scale our impact.
  • Educate and prepare the next generation of urban change agents to plan, design, and create more just, sustainable, and livable cities for all.
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A building with trees and people on the grass next to it.
Initiatives

The center is currently undertaking three high-impact, multi-year initiatives. Each initiative involves faculty and students from across the college and collaborations with external partners.

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A body of water next to sheet metal houses next to large buildings surrounded by trees.

Your City Counts

What are the highest priorities for city leaders around the world? To answer this question, we surveyed a globally representative sample of 1,000 local government executive leaders from 125 countries, asking about their local economy, housing, infrastructure, built and natural environments, social issues, governance, and finance. The survey generates geographically specific, cross-cultural insights to inform urban design, planning, and policy. Your City Counts is a collaborative effort between the Mui Ho Center for Cities and a coalition of international institutions, civil society partners, and international researchers.

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A body of water next to sheet metal houses next to large buildings surrounded by trees.
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Rows of houses next to a wetland area.
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Rows of houses next to a wetland area.

Urban Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

This initiative generates new, actionable, and scalable knowledge about how diverse urban built environments and ecosystems across the Global North and Global South can mitigate and adapt to climate change. One project under this initiative focuses on climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in the context of in situ informal settlement upgrading. The initiative involves collaboration with civil society partners and stakeholders, AAP faculty research, residencies for reflective practitioners, new hybrid course offerings, student internships, and programming.

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Street rows surrounded by grass and 3 houses.

Inclusive Urban Development

With a focus on the transformation of so-called blighted urban neighborhoods, this initiative embeds Cornell faculty and students in communities to critically examine how to plan, design, and build more inclusive cities. This initiative examines racist urban practices, systematic disinvestment, and disenfranchisement. The Inclusive Urban Development initiative uses design methodologies and collective knowledge of building practices, site, materials, technology, and policy mechanisms to develop scalable solutions to housing, food, livelihoods, and infrastructure.

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Street rows surrounded by grass and 3 houses.
Structure

The center is organized around dynamic thematic hubs. Within the hubs, faculty-lead research labs create new knowledge, support and train postdoctoral fellows as well as undergraduate and graduate students, spearhead innovation, and engage diverse sets of stakeholders.

A bridge leading to costal houses with trees surrounding the area.

Adaptive Land Lab

LINDA SHI

Studies why cities adopt regressive climate adaptation practices and what alternative approaches to property rights, land use and fiscal policies, and regional governance would enable more equitable and sustainable futures. 

Rusty metal objects connected with panes of glass and mesh.

Circular Construction Lab

FELIX HEISEL

Activates research to shift material consumption toward a circular model for designing and building a sustainable, low- / no-carbon construction industry.

White dots on a black background with white lines and white text.

Design Across Scales Lab

ALEX KOBALDJ. MEEJIN YOON

A research platform, creative think tank, and incubator working at the intersection of the built environment, technology, sociology, and ecology.

White three dimensional blocks surrounded by gradient blue shapes with a computer program window displayed on top.

Environmental Systems Lab

TIMUR DOGAN

Specializes in sustainable architecture and urbanism through research across design, engineering, computation, and building performance simulation.

Rows of houses surrounded by streets and trees and grass as seen from above.

Housing + Property Lab

SUZANNE LANYI CHARLES

Examines the effects of global housing investment on local neighborhoods and household access to affordable, secure, and stable housing.

Black lines on a creamy grey background depicting a city.

Just Places Lab

JENNIFER MINNER

A multi-disciplinary research lab for igniting creative action, public imagination, and participatory place-keeping in the built environment.

Water next to mountains with a bright blue sky and houses and buildings.

Landscape and Urban Environmentalities Lab

TAO DUFOUR

Studies the lived experience, narrative structure, and interlaced constitution of architecture, cities, and landscapes, inquiring into the sense of environmental experience as an embodied and intergenerationally shared inheritance and responsibility. 

A row of buildings with some flags hanging out front and trees.

Legal Constructs Lab

SARA BRONIN

Leads interdisciplinary projects in property, land use, historic preservation, and energy, inquiring into how law can foster more equitable, sustainable, well-designed, and connected places.

People sitting at a desk talking with other people.

Local Government Restructuring Lab

MILDRED WARNER

From finance and infrastructure policy to economic development, planning, and public health, the Local Government Restructuring Lab explores cutting-edge research to inform public practice.

Robots walking around a city street with colorful trails behind them as they walk.

Realtime Urbanism Lab

FARZIN LOTFI-JAM

Investigates the social impacts of new technologies that virtualize cities and populations. The lab produces research using extended reality interfaces, gaming engines, agent-based simulations, digital twins, and smart urban systems.

Concrete triangles as part of a larger structure.

Regenerative Architecture Lab

MARTA H. WISNIEWSKA

Investigates alternative building materials and innovative construction techniques for a healthier and more regenerative built environment in the context of developed and developing territories.

Pink, blue, green, and yellow shapes on a pink background.

Rural-Urban Building Innovation Lab

LESLIE LOK

Explores the intersection of urbanization, novel material methods, and technology to create and experiment with hybridized design and construction processes in the urban fringe.

People walking in a city at night while its snowing.

Transportation Access and Policy Lab

NICHOLAS J. KLEIN

Focused on urban transportation, the lab studies the role that transportation plays in social and economic mobility, public opinions, and new technologies.

A water spout next to some buckets and plants in a concrete canal.

Water In, Water Out Lab

VICTORIA A. BEARD

Produces new research on the water to waste cycle, across actionable scales, from source protection to household access. The lab connects knowledge to action to create more equitable and sustainable urban water management systems.

Black text on a book with slightly yellowed pages with black drawn symbols

&Lab

MARÍA GONZÁLEZ PENDÁSSUZANNE LETTIERI

A space born out of collaboration aimed at fostering new pedagogies and modes of public and civic-academic alliance through architectural design, architectural humanities, and the modes of research, teaching, and learning that animate them. 

Our Key Performance Indicators

Are we building the cities we want and need? We use our analytical capacity to evaluate the impact of our initiatives, the work we do with our partners, and our research and innovation.

Economic Development

  • Increased economic growth and revitalization
  • Improved productivity
  • Reduced unemployment

Environmental Sustainability

  • Adoption of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures
  • Reduced GHG and other harmful emissions
  • Improved air and water quality
  • Reduced waste

Social Equity

  • Improved access to urban infrastructure and services
  • Increased availability of affordable housing
  • Reduced crime and improved public safety
  • Expanded access to public and green space

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Expanded opportunities for public involvement in planning, policymaking, and design
  • Increased public participation in agenda setting and resource allocation decisions
Partners

The center scales its impact through strategic partnerships and a growing network of collaborations with other research institutes, the public sector, civil society, and private industry.

Photography
From top: images 1, 4, 5, 6 / Johnny Miller, Unequal Scenes; image 3 / Sasa Zivkovic.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Mui Ho Center for Cities or to inquire about potential collaborations, please email us at centerforcities@cornell.edu.

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