Zeerak Ahmed MDE ’18 runs Matnsaz, an initiative to better represent Urdu in technology. Growing on his master’s thesis work of building breakthrough Urdu keyboards for modern smartphones, Zeerak now runs a collaboration across continents and disciplines to build infrastructure for software developers across the world that want to support Urdu and other languages in the Arabic script.
In late 2019, they released Makhzan, an Urdu text corpus. A corpus of text is the fundamental building block used to train artificial intelligence upon which language processing capabilities are built. From autocorrect, to search, and to linguistic analysis, Makhzan will support a diverse set of use cases with a high-quality and free-to-use data source.
With the help of learnings from Makhzan, Zeerak is inching closer to a public beta of his Urdu keyboard. Recent articles in MIT Technology Review Pakistan, and Princeton Alumni Weekly go deeper into the technological and cultural implications of this new technology.
Credit: Michael Raspuzzi
posted April, 2020
From their new home base in Mexico City, Rodman Primack and Rudy Weissenberg MDes ’18 find inspiration in the country’s flourishing design scene.
For 20 years, almost as long as they’ve been a couple, Rodman Primack and Rudy Weissenberg told friends they were thinking of moving to Mexico. They often traveled there, Primack in his role as an auction-house executive and later creative director of the Design Miami fairs, Weissenberg as a television producer, and both fell hard for its relaxed pace and cultural éclat. They built a circle of friends. They started buying from the local art galleries. Still, when they unpacked their boxes in Mexico City this past spring, “everyone was like, ‘WHAT?!?’ ” Weissenberg says. “We discovered there’s a difference between saying you’re moving to Mexico and moving to Mexico.”
They haven’t looked back. The idea, incubated for so long that it slowly evolved with them, was that Mexico City would be a new home base—while they still retained a foothold in New York City—that would give Primack additional headquarters for his thriving interior design–and–fabric business, RP Miller (he took a step back from the fair world in 2019), and give Weissenberg a vantage from which to launch new ventures in enlightened real estate development. “What do you add to New York City nowadays in the design space?” he asks. “Mexico is a place where you can still add something to the story, where you can have an impact.”
posted October, 2019
17 Harvard GSD Alumni from Puerto Rico have assembled as a group to protest the limited civic engagement and transparency in the reviewal process behind the adoption of significant and potentially detrimental changes to the island’s Zoning Maps, led by the Planning Board of Puerto Rico. Together, they wrote an open letter to María del C. Gordillo Pérez, chairwoman of the Planning Board.
The group is made up of the following alumni:
Pedro Manuel Cardona Roig MAUD ’91
Hugo Colón MLA ’13
Manuel Antonio Colón Amador MLA ’14
Irene Figueroa-Ortiz MUP & March I ’15
Nataniel Fúster MAUD ’96 & DDes ’99
Fabiola Guzmán Rivera March I ’18
Yanick Lay Fumero MLA ’18
Eduardo M. Llinás Messeguer MAUD ’13
Maria Victoria Mateo MLA ’11
Oscar Oliver Didier MAUD ’06
Judith Rodríguez MLA & MAUD ’13
Gabriella S. Rodríguez MLA & MAUD ’16
Ángel Y. Rodríguez Colón MAUD ’11
Joanna Rodriguez-Noyola MArch I ’14
Héctor Tarrido-Picart MAUD & MLA ’15
José Juan Terrasa Soler MLA ’07
Emmanuel Torres MAUD ’14
In the past months there was a recent upsurge in democratic mobilization to demand transparency and democracy in the way politics and business are conducted in Puerto Rico. This led to the recent resignation of Governor Ricardo Roselló and will likely lead to fundamental changes to the political and institutional structures of the Caribbean island.
While these mass civil protests were taking place, the Planning Board of Puerto Rico conducted most of the public hearings for first-time proposed major revisions to the Zoning Maps. In addition, the Planning Board failed to provide key information and a suitable timeline for a comprehensive examination by all the parties affected by the zoning changes, including the island’s 78 municipalities. Some of these zoning changes go against the interest of vulnerable communities, the ones most affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
posted August, 2019
What kind of impact is the North American beaver having on the landscape of the Mountain West? An article by Stacy Passmore MLA ’18 published in the July issue of Places Journal takes on this question. Supported by a 2017 Penny White Project Fund grant and recipient of the GSD’s Charles Eliot Traveling Fellowship, Passmore chronicles her travels examining the work of the animal that has “gained something of a cult reputation as an environmental engineer.”
“I had heard stories about humans and beavers working together to restore wetlands and river systems, and I wanted to see for myself,” writes Passmore. “That might sound weird — working together — but as a landscape designer you have to be open to unusual collaborations. If farmers and ranchers were turning into ‘beaver believers,’ I could respect that.”
When she’s not scouting such altered landscapes, Passmore is a landscape designer at Civitas in Denver, Colorado.
Read the full article, “Landscape with Beavers.”
Image: Concept sketch of a “beaver deceiver,” a flow device to limit pond depth. [Stacy Passmore]
posted August, 2019
Architectural projects by Philip Poon MArch ’18 will be on display at the Pearl River Mart gallery in NYC from July 13 through August 31, 2019. The show, “Shared Spaces,” is an invitation to imagine how people of diverse backgrounds might share the same physical space, particularly Manhattan’s Chinatown. Using large scale models and images, Poon explores architecture’s role in shaping worlds in which those with differing viewpoints, values, and experiences might coincide, and the possible conflicts — and harmonies — that come with that. Three projects will be on display: a proposed Chinatown gateway, a monument to humanitarian Keshia Thomas, and photos documenting Chinatown’s changing landscape.
Pearl River Mart, a family-owned Asian emporium, houses one of the few galleries in New York’s Lower Manhattan dedicated to showing works that matter to Asian American communities.
There is an opening reception on Saturday, July 13, from 5 – 7 PM.
Read a Q+A with Poon.
posted July, 2019
Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the professional association for landscape architects in the United States, representing more than 15,000 members. Each year, the ASLA Professional Awards honor the best in landscape architecture from around the globe, while the ASLA Student Awards give us a glimpse into the future of the profession.
Award recipients receive featured coverage in Landscape Architecture Magazine, the magazine of ASLA, and in many other design and construction industry and general interest media. Award recipients, their clients, and advisors will be honored at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Philadelphia, October 19-22, 2018.
This year, recent GSD graduates and current students received four awards in three categories:
2018 Student Award of Excellence in the Communication Category, on behalf of “Korea Remade: A Guide to the Reuse of the DMZ Area Towards Unification“: Xiwei Shen MLA ’19, Jiawen Chen MLA ’18, and Siyu Jiang MLA ’18; Faculty Advisors: Niall Kirkwood, Jungyoon (Yuni) Kim MLA ’00, and Yoonjin Park MLA ’00.
2018 Student Award of Excellence in the Residential Design Category, on behalf of “Baseco: A New Housing Paradigm“: Julio F. Torres Santana MArch ’19, Yinan Liu MLA ’19, and Aime Vailes-Macarie MArch ’19; Faculty Advisor: David A. Rubin MLA ’90
2018 Student Honor Award in the Analysis And Planning Category, on behalf of “Bloom! A Dynamic Landscape Biological System“: Xiwei Shen MLA ’19, Jiawen Chen MLA ’18, and Chengzhe Zhang MLA ’18; Faculty Advisors: Craig Douglas and David Watts
2018 Student Honor Award the Residential Design Category, on behalf of “The Snow [RESERVE]: Dynamic Microclimate Strategies for South Boston Living“: Sunmee Lee MLA ’19 and Phia Sennett MLA ’19; Faculty Advisor: Craig Douglas
posted September, 2018