Visit by Ronda Kaysen

Thursday proved to be an exciting afternoon, as New York Times reporter Ronda Kaysen visited the studio and shared some of her experiences with us. Typically, Kaysen writes for the Real Estate section, so she brings a particularly interesting view to the realm of architecture and the development of housing in New York. It was Kaysen who declared 2017 “The Year of the Renter”.

As Kaysen shared her writing methods with us, she emphasized her own approach, looking for buildings with impact on the city/neighborhood, buildings that point towards new and continuing trends, and architectural design that is innovative, interesting, or intrusive. You could see professionals and students alike take particular note as she spoke about those things that would bring a certain building to the front of the pack- we are all always interested in making sure our work gets the publicity we feel it deserves. Noting that “We are coming to the end of a cycle”, Kaysen pointed to the glut of luxury rental housing that has spread across Manhattan and Brooklyn, and questioned how the majority of the population is served when housing is geared towards the top and the bottom. What a perfect segue into the work being done this semester by the students, looking at exactly those under-served populations in today’s marketplace.

So how do we meet the needs of these people? Students shared their current work with Kaysen, emphasizing the key issues that each group is tackling , be it immigration, refugee status, age integration, or homeless youth. What can bringing these people into a neighborhood on Staten Island do for the community, and how do they integrate into one of the most diverse areas in the city? Kaysen, along with myself and others, was struck by the demographic map of northern Staten Island, which shows a huge mix of ethnicities and income groups. Perhaps as we look to continue improving the quality of New York for every New Yorker, we can look to Stapleton and Tompkinsville for potential answers.

Cameron Shore, Research Assistant, CR Housing Studio

2 thoughts on “Visit by Ronda Kaysen

  1. Hearing Kaysen present her work and share some colorful interviews, what I found particularly interesting was realizing how real estate is such a targeted response to housing. Much like what’s been pointed out, it is more often than not aimed to house either group A or group Z and what needs to be seen now is what is being done for everyone in between. Reading some of Kaysen’s previous works, she points out this notion to build for families under the belief that that’s who needs the greater part in the housing stock, when the reality of the situation is that more and more of the clientele are not your typical nuclear families, the array of people looking for housing has transformed incredibly within the past few decades, honestly, even within the past decade due to political and international changes, the influx of people is as much part of today’s housing crisis as is the need for more housing, affordable housing, etc… I agree very much with this post on seeing the versility between the two studios, there are proposals that take into account many types of groups, which in itself identifies a huge part of tackling “NYC Housing, What’s Missing?”


  2. Great summary! I thoroughly enjoyed Kaysen’s input as to how she finds, chooses and narrates her stories. I think it is valuable to apply her point about writing when cultivating design solutions; to choose stories that inform readers rather than promote interest groups and to always answer who/what/where/when/why.


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