Michael Kwartler


Michael Kwartler is an architect, planner, urban designer, and educator. He is the founding Executive Director and President of the Environmental Simulation Center, a non-profit research laboratory created to design and develop innovative applications of information technology for community planning, design, and decision-making. Kwartler directed the design and development of CommunityViz, the first GIS based planning and design decision support software to fully integrate virtual reality with scenario design, impact analysis, and policy simulation. CommunityViz is currently being used by communities across the country.

For forty years, Kwartler's professional practice and teaching have focused on urban design and the theory and practice of legislating aesthetics and good city form. Examples of his work include the award winning and precedent setting performance-based Housing Quality Zoning Regulations (1976) and Midtown Zoning Regulations (1982), both adopted by New York City, which recognize the power of zoning to determine urban form; Westside Futures (1985), a community based preservation and development plan; "Building in Your Own Backyard" (1991), a foundation supported proposal to use infill housing and site redesign to reweave NYC public housing developments into the fabric of the neighborhood; pilot community planning and design projects with the Regional Plan Association for the Third Regional Plan (1995/96); the Southwest Santa Fe City/County Master Plan Initiative (2000), Baltimore Vision 2030 Regional Plan (2002), and Community Development Plan for the Kona Region of Hawaii (2005) with American Community Partnership (ACP); and the Greenwich Street South Urban Design Plan with H3 (2006). He is currently directing the Ford Foundation supported Human Development Overlay District (HD-OD), a three year project designed to bridge the gap between Physical Capital Plans and Human Capital Plans in rapidly changing neighborhoods to provide opportunities in upward mobility to the impacted vulnerable population.

His publications include "Legislating Aesthetics: The Role of Zoning in Designing Cities": in Zoning and the American Dream (Haar and Kayden, 1990); Preserving Sunlight in New York City's Parks: A Zoning Proposal (1991); "Planning and Zoning the Mature City: A Working Paper: in Planning and Zoning New York City (1992); "Regulating the good you can't think of" in URBAN DESIGN International (1999); and Critique: "New Zoning Proposed for New York Needs Further Refinement" Architectural Record (2000) "CommunityViz: An Integrated Planning Support System" in Planning Support Systems: Integrating GIS, Models, and Visualization Tools (Brail and Klosterman, 2001), "Visualization in Support of Public Participation" in Visualization in Landscape and Environmental Planning (Lange and Bishop, 2004), "Just-In-Time Planning: New York + Houston" in Architectural Design (2005), Visualizing and Visualization" in Complex Artificial Environments (Portugali, 2006), Visioning and Visualization (co-authored with Gianni Longo), Lincoln Institute for Land Policy (2008), and "Linking People and Place: The Human Development Overlay District" in Planning and Technology Today (Summer 2008)

Michael Kwartler studied Architecture and Planning at The Cooper Union and Columbia University respectively. Entering the New York City government in 1969 he served as Deputy Director of the Mayor's Urban Design Council and later joined the City Planning Department as Associate Director of the Division of Land Planning and Environmental Management. He has lectured widely and taught architecture and urban design at Arizona State University, the University of Oregon, Renneselaer Polytechnic Institute, M.I.T., Harvard University and the Milano School of Public Policy at the New School, and was the Director of Columbia University's Program in Historic Preservation. Kwartler was named Affiliate Research Professor at George Mason University in January 2003 and is on the faculty of the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy. He held the Clarkson Chair in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at SUNY/Buffalo and most recently was awarded Cooper Union's John Q. Hejduk Award in Architecture. Kwartler was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1990 for his work in urban design and performance based zoning. He has served as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects.