PAU is a New York based studio dedicated to the advancement of sustainable, equitable, and joyous cities. The practice is led by Vishaan Chakrabarti, the firm’s Founder and Creative Director, and Ruchika Modi, the firm’s Principal. We embrace architecture and city planning as allied fields operating along a range of scales. We break down disciplinary boundaries by expanding the definition of architecture and rejecting the silos that have ossified it. Our designers use both sides of their brains to be as creative as they are analytical. Given the breadth and depth of our team’s talents, but also in an effort to raise labor standards in our field, we treat our personnel with the utmost respect in terms of compensation, staff development, benefits, and work-life balance. Our team of thirty, our network of experienced collaborators, and our clients all come to PAU inspired by our desire to palpably and positively impact the world. Together we thrive on constraints such as program, constructability, public process, regulation, budget, and schedule as the fuel for innovation and beauty. To achieve this, from the precise scale of an architectural detail to the large scale of a master plan, ours is a group of “swiss-army knives,” professionals who employ an unprecedented range of skills and mindsets. We are fluent in multiple languages: we speak architecture, we speak culture, we speak ecology, we speak economics, we speak academia, we speak urbanity, we speak government, and, perhaps most importantly, we speak the language of democratic public process, because the complexities of the projects we design demand no less. Below are brief descriptions of the individuals who form our unique collective, a group of thinkers who build, utopian pragmatists whose dreams of impactful design have been forged in the white heat of hard-fought experience.
Founder and Creative Director
With over thirty years of experience investigating, designing, and implementing urban architecture, Vishaan Chakrabarti is the Founder and Creative Director of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism | PAU , where he leads the firm’s growing global portfolio of cultural, institutional, and public projects. Chakrabarti’s past roles—including Principal at architecture firms SHoP Architects and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, President of the Moynihan Station Venture at the Related Companies, Director of the Manhattan Office for the New York Department of City Planning in the Bloomberg administration, and the William W. Wurster Dean of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley—have given him a uniquely well-rounded perspective on how cities and their architecture function and what they need to flourish.
While serving under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chakrabarti successfully collaborated on the now-realized efforts to save the High Line, extend the #7 subway line, rebuild the East River Waterfront, expand the Columbia University campus, and reincorporate the street grid at the World Trade Center site after the events of 9/11. This deep-seated experience of implementing landmark urban designs under bureaucratic confines drives PAU’s innovative yet practical approach to creating vibrant, resilient, and cross-cultural urban environments that uplift the experience of everyday people.
PAU’s process begins with a search for emotional, social, and cultural connection, which inspires bespoke design solutions that deploy material, tectonics, light, and space to foster a sense of serendipity and community. Integral to PAU’s philosophy is developing a robust understanding of the daily lives of a diverse spectrum of urban dwellers, allowing the team to create multi-functional spaces that stimulate civic delight, promote environmental justice and cross-cultural pollination, and improve how people interact with the city and with each other. Current projects of note include the expansion of the I.M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the planning and redevelopment of downtown Niagara Falls, and the conversion of the historic Domino Sugar Factory on Brooklyn’s waterfront into a contemporary office complex, to open this summer.
Chakrabarti is the author of the highly acclaimed book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America (Metropolis Books, 2013), and The Architecture of Urbanity: Designing for Place, Pluralism, and Planet (2024, Princeton University Press). He taught at Columbia for more than a decade and serves on the boards of the Architectural League of New York, the Regional Planning Association, the Norman Foster Foundation, The World Around and Prometheus Materials. Chakrabarti has degrees in architecture, urban planning, art history, and engineering.
With a background spanning industrial design, economics, and journalism, Principal Ruchika Modi brings a multifaceted understanding of the ways in which cities function to her architectural practice. Modi’s experiences living and working in Mumbai (then Bombay), New Delhi, and San Francisco have also influenced her nuanced view of urban planning and design, inspiring her passion to find architectural solutions to a range of relevant issues, from sustainability to inequality. At PAU, Modi sets the firm’s vision in partnership with Creative Director Vishaan Chakrabarti, including shaping the firm’s diverse portfolio of projects, and overseeing all aspects of the design process.
Currently, Modi is leading the design team for the FAA’s new sustainable air traffic control tower prototype, which will be adapted to replace over 100 aging towers in regional and municipal airports across the nation. She is also project lead for Princeton University’s newest residential college, Hobson College, as well as for the master plan and design of forty-one buildings as part of a new mixed-use development in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She spearheaded the design of the iconic Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn, an adaptive reuse project transforming the historic nineteenth-century factory into offices with a mixed-use ground level, opening in the fall of 2023.
Prior to joining PAU, Modi was a Senior Associate at Standard Architects and a founding partner of Studio r&star, both in New York City. She has also worked at Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where she was awarded the Charles McKim Prize for Excellence in Design / Saul Kaplan Traveling Fellowship, the William Kinne Fellows Prize for Study and Travel Abroad, and the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize. Modi received her BA in economics from the University of Delhi and a BA with distinction in interior architecture from the California College of Arts, San Francisco. Her work has been exhibited at the Center for Architecture in New York, the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam, and the China International Architectural Biennale in Beijing.
Mark Faulkner is a registered architect and an Associate Principal at PAU, where he is responsible for overseeing and coordinating design and documentation. Before joining PAU, Mark accumulated over twelve years of professional experience as a studio leader at Standard Architects, where he was responsible for all phases from concept design through construction administration, with extensive experience on site. He has worked on a diverse range of project and building types, including mixed use, residential, workplace, hospitality, spiritual, adaptive reuse, landscape, and public space. Mark earned a post-professional Master of Architecture II degree from the Cooper Union, where he was awarded a full scholarship, and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. He has presented his work at the annual ACADIA conference, contributed to Archinect’s blog series, exhibited at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and been featured in publications including Plat and Ktisma. In 2021 he completed the Yale School of Management Executive Education Program, Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders.
Julia Lewis is an Associate Principal at PAU. She is responsible for managing PAU’s large-scale planning work, providing targeted strategic input on select jobs, and seeking out new opportunities for the studio. She utilizes her background in architecture, real estate development, and historic preservation and experience with city-scale planning to approach challenges and propose solutions within the built environment in a comprehensive manner.
Before joining PAU, Julia was part of the Cities team at BuroHappold Engineering, where she worked on a variety of projects ranging from building- to city-scale for public, private, and non-profit clients. Julia earned a Master of Real Estate Development and a Master of Historic Preservation from Columbia University and a BA in architecture with a minor in business administration from Clemson University. At Columbia she was awarded the William Kinne Fellows Prize for Study and Travel Abroad and the M.S. RED Program Service Award for Outstanding Service to the School. Julia serves on the board of Columbia University Preservation Alumni.
Skylar Bisom-Rapp is an Associate Principal at PAU. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he received dual masters degrees in architecture and real estate development. He was the inaugural recipient of the Glascock and van Buren Graduate Fellowship at Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE), where he worked under research director Jesse Keenan in support of CURE publications, including Keenan’s own work on climate change adaptation in the commercial real estate industry. Skylar holds a BA in architecture with high honors from the University of California, Berkeley.
Mateo Fernández-Muro is a Senior Associate at PAU. He has collaborated with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and worked with WE ACT for Environmental Justice to develop a community plan for climate resilience in northern Manhattan, as well as with the offices of Álvaro Siza and Rubio & Álvarez-Sala on the development of significant urban design projects. Mateo holds a Master of Science in design and urban ecologies from the Parsons School of Design and a Master in Advanced Architectural Projects, with honors, from ETSA Madrid. His award-winning research was exhibited in the Spanish pavilion of the XVI Venice Biennale of Architecture.
Kutay Biberoglu is a Senior Associate at PAU. He earned a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where he was awarded the Honor Award for Excellence in Design, as well as the William Kinne Fellows Prize for Study and Travel Abroad. His graduate thesis portfolio focused on the political, scalar, environmental, and social implications of built infrastructure in cities. Kutay also holds a Bachelor in Architecture with honors from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.
Junxi Wu is a Senior Associate at PAU. He received his Master of Urban Design degree from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. His thesis focused on reclaiming the public realm in the largely privatized urban core of Detroit. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree, with a concentration in urban design, from South China University of Technology.
Maria Lucia Morelli is a Senior Associate at PAU. She joined PAU after working as an architect in Peru for four years. She holds a Master of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was awarded the Priscilla King Gray and Social Impact fellowships. While at MIT she worked as a teacher’s assistant under renowned Urban Planning professors Gary Hack and Mary Anne Ocampo. Her thesis focused on how women’s mobility behavior is affected by fear of street harassment in Mexico City and how to plan for safer spaces for women to navigate risk. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru, where she focused her research on the relationship between architecture and landscape.
Andres is an Associate Architect at PAU. He holds a Master of Architecture from Polytechnic University of Madrid’s Higher Technical School of Architecture and is a registered architect in Madrid. Prior to joining PAU, Andres worked at OMA New York for 5 years, where he participated in large scale projects ranging from conceptual design to technical development, specializing in production and coordination of highly efficient façades for office, laboratory, and residential skyscrapers including the first OMA high-rise towers in New York along with Greenpoint Landing Block D and a Mixed-Used project in Boston for WS Development. His Master’s Thesis research “A Security Screening for the Contemporary Airport” has been featured on the digital platform Archinect. Andres was a main-stage speaker at Airport Security Lecture and was awarded a guest speaker at the With Honors Presentation, both in the School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM).
Agustín Ludeña is a Designer at PAU and a registered Architect in Spain from the Madrid School of Architecture (UPM-ETSAM), where he also collaborated as fellow of the Architectural Design Department and as Assistant Teacher at Federico Soriano’s Design Studio. He worked at estudioHerreros in Madrid before moving to New York City and joining PAU. His work and research projects have been featured on several platforms and in media including the Spanish Pavilion at the 16th Venice Biennale of Architecture (2018), Architecture Magazine, the Madrid Chamber of Architects (COAM), the curatorial participations on Models 2 (Fisuras de la cultura contemporánea), and 100 years of Architecture Magazine (COAM).
Felix is an Associate at PAU. He received his Master of Architecture from the Princeton University School of Architecture. His graduate thesis, “Stages for Democracy”, explores the idea of democratic spaces and proposes an expansion to Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan complex.
For his participation in Arch Out Loud’s White House Competition (2022), Felix was awarded an Honorable Mention; he is also the recipient of multiple essay competition awards.
Felix also holds a BA in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. His work has been exhibited at the Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin (2019).
Gregory Keller is a registered architect and an Associate at PAU. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University and has also completed coursework in Renewable Energy Innovation & Sustainability at Reykjavik University in Iceland.
Prior to joining PAU, he practiced architecture at Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York with a focus on higher education. Gregory’s thesis project at Cornell, “Boundary Event: Reading the Cartographic Line,” focused on relationships between architectural space, maps, and borders. His work has been exhibited as part of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale (2018) in partnership with the U.S. Pavilion.
Gregory continues to further develop his interests in sustainability, photography, and space-making. As an active member of the Build Out Alliance, he also values advocacy for the LGBTQ community within the building design and construction industry. He was recognized by METROPOLIS’ Arch30 program, which identifies the next generation of leadership and top talent in architecture.
Alejandro Duran is an Associate at PAU. Prior to joining PAU, Alejandro worked at the offices of Robert A.M. Stern Architects and DXA Studio in New York City. His work experience encompasses projects ranging from a large mixed-use building in Berlin, Germany to a masterplan in Southern California, as well as multifamily projects in New York City.
He holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music and Urban Planning from the University of California, San Diego, and received his Master of Architecture from the Yale School of Architecture, where he was a graduate student researcher for The Urban Atlas, an initiative studying port cities in northern Europe in collaboration with Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. While at Yale he also served as an editor for Retrospecta 40 and Paprika!, and co-led educational partnerships between the Yale School of Architecture and New Haven public schools.
His academic work was featured in Close Reading: Formal Analysis in Architecture in Milan, an exhibition co-curated by Peter Eisenman and Lorenzo Degli Esposti, and has been featured in Retrospecta, the Yale journal of student work. His editorial design work for Pacemaker Award-winning El Sol magazine was recognized with All-Columbian Honors by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
Nicolás is a registered architect in Chile and a designer at PAU. He earned his Master of Architecture from the IIT Chicago Graduate School of Architecture. His thesis project, “Architecture as a Communicator of Values and Identity: Spaces for Public Safety and Community Benefit”, consisted of an urban strategy that seeks to save neighborhoods dominated by drug trafficking and violence. Nicolás’ experience in architecture and urban design includes projects such as the Oceanographic Museum in Valparaiso, Manhattan West in New York City, and the new O’Hare Global Terminal in Chicago.
Eric Peters is a Designer at PAU. He earned his Master’s in Advanced Architectural Design from Cornell University and holds a Bachelor of Architecture with a minor in Interior Design from Ball State University.
Prior to joining PAU, Eric worked at Pelli Clarke and Partners on a range of large-scale commercial projects in the U.S. and the Netherlands including a new Net-Zero corporate headquarters for Shell International, Block 185 in Austin, Texas and tower competitions.
His academic work focuses on place-making and storytelling through design. His graduate thesis, “Architecture as Advocate” explores the political power of minority representation in our built environment. Eric has received awards from the Council on Tall Buildings, Urban Habitat and the Indiana Architectural Foundation. He was awarded the Cornell AAP Director’s Award and has worked as a Graduate Teaching Research Specialist. While at Ball State, he served as editor-in-chief for 3 issues of their architecture journal GLUE. At Cornell, he co-authored a book entitled, “Sink or Swim: A Guide of Design Strategies to Confront the Sea Level Rise in the East Coast”.
Asya Shevchenko is a Designer at PAU. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, where she was awarded a full tuition scholarship. Her thesis addressed the role of the Public Library in modern urban spaces, adapting functions to new realities, and creating a point of attraction for local residents.
Prior to joining PAU, Asya worked at Archimatika in Kyiv on large scale projects specializing in community mixed-use buildings, educational institutions and residential complexes.
Her work has been exhibited at the MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome and has been published in Dezeen. Asya is currently getting her Master of Architecture degree through Greg Lynn’s studio at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
Maria Alataris is the Administrative Director at PAU. She has over twenty years of global experience in the field. A registered architect, she has worked on a wide range of architecture and design projects for Richard Meier & Partners; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Kuhn; and Asahi Juken. Maria graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Architecture degree and received the Juris Janson Memorial Prize for Excellence in Design.
Director of Operations
Bryan Dorsey is the Director of Operations at PAU. He brings a wide array of architecture and design administrative experience to PAU from previous positions at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; DIFFA; Peter Marino Architect; and SHoP Architects. He served in Senior Operations Support and Business Development at Société Générale de Surveillance, where he assisted in the development of new contract standards and firm-wide office protocols at offices in New York City, Houston, and Antwerp, Belgium. Bryan holds a BA from the University of Nebraska.
Front Office Manager
Linda LaBella is the Front Office Manager at PAU. Her past years of administrative support to the founder of PAU include overseeing the startup Moynihan Station Project Office and managing the Columbia University Master of Real Estate Development Office. At Heng Seng Realty she instituted new human resource protocols and more recently at Fergus McCaffrey Gallery, Linda assisted in the project management of a new construction project for a 3000 sq. ft space to house artworks. She was awarded a full tuition scholarship to the MFA program at Stanford University, CA and her avocation as an artist has led her to a three-year cultural exchange in Guadalajara, Mexico, and invitations to annual exhibits at Hankyu in Osaka, Japan and Bert Green Fine Art, Chicago, IL.