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 William Wurster Dean of the College of Environmental Design at Berkeley, and Ruchika Modi, the firm’s Managing 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 twenty, 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 twenty-five years of proven experience authoring and implementing visionary design, Vishaan Chakrabarti is the Founder and Creative Director of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU). Simultaneously, he is the William W. Wurster Dean of the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley. PAU will as a consequence open a California office in tandem with its existing New York studio, both of which will continue under Vishaan’s creative direction. His highly acclaimed book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America (Metropolis Books, 2013), argues that a more urban United States would result in a more prosperous, sustainable, joyous, and socially mobile nation.
From 2012 to 2015, Vishaan was a principal at SHoP Architects, where he co-led major architecture and urban design projects including the master plan and first building at the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg as well as the master plan and first building at the Essex Crossing site at Seward Park, which together bookend the Williamsburg Bridge in a new form of mixed-use, mixed-income urbanism.
While serving under Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the director of the Manhattan Office for the New York Department of City Planning, Vishaan successfully collaborated on the now-realized efforts to save the High Line, rezone Hudson Yards, 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. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley; a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and dual bachelor’s degrees in art history and engineering from Cornell University. He is a registered architect in the States of New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and is registered with NCARB.
Vishaan lectures internationally; contributes articles and op-ed’s to the New York Times, Crain’s Business, and other publications; has appeared on CBS Evening News, MSNBC’s The Cycle, Charlie Rose, National Public Radio, WNYC, and other television and radio programs; and was a main-stage speaker at TED 2018: The Age of Amazement and a featured speaker at TED Connects 2020: Build Back Better. He serves on the boards of the Architectural League of New York, the Regional Planning Association, the Norman Foster Foundation, and The World Around. He is an emeritus board member of Friends of the High Line and an ex officio board member of the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Films Archive (BAMPFA). Vishaan is also a Mentor & Protégé for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, a member of the Young Leaders Forum of the National Council on US-China Relations and has served on the National Mayor’s Institute of City Design.
Ruchika Modi is the Managing Principal at PAU and a registered architect in the state of New York. Ruchika guides all aspects of the design process in the office. She is currently overseeing the design of the Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn, NY; an adaptive reuse project to transform a factory into offices with a mixed-use ground floor; the master plan and design of forty-one buildings as part of a mixed-use new development in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; a 100,000 square meter mixed-use market-hall, office, and residential project in Panama City, Panama; and an arcade infill and POPS design for an Emery Roth–designed office building in lower Manhattan. Recently, Ruchika also completed design development for Riverfront Square, a 730-unit residential project in Newark, NJ.
Before joining PAU, Ruchika was a Senior Associate at Standard Architects and a founding partner of Studio r&star in New York City. She has also worked at Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects.
Ruchika 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. She 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. In 2020, she completed the Coro Leadership New York program. 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.
Julia 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.
Dustin is a registered architect and senior associate at PAU. He has over ten years of experience designing, detailing, and managing complex architectural jobs with unique technical and programmatic demands and spanning a broad range of typologies, including numerous hospital and laboratory buildings for Ballinger in Philadelphia. As an architect at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Dustin oversaw the design of several elements of the High Line, including the park’s only children’s feature and the connection to Hudson Yards. He holds a post-professional Master of Architecture II degree from the Cooper Union and a Bachelor of Architecture from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, where he was an AIA Henry Adams Medalist and Rome scholarship recipient.
Priyanka is a senior associate at PAU. She is an architectural designer and planner with over ten years of experience across urban and architectural scales. Prior to joining PAU she worked at practices in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Cambridge and New York, among them Leo Pereira, deCoi, Kohn Pedersen Fox and Grimshaw. Priyanka holds Masters degrees in Architecture as well as City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she was awarded the Lloyd and Nadine Rodwin and William Emerson Travel Grants. She earned a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors, from Rizvi College of Architecture, University of Mumbai where she was a winner in the International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence. She is also a recipient of the Lawrence B. Anderson Award from MIT, and the Deborah J. Norden Grant from the Architectural League of New York.
Skylar 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.
George Distefano holds a Master of Architecture degree from Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning. He was awarded the Alison K. Barry Prize for exemplary performance in the graduate program, and his graduate thesis research focused on generating new relationships between architecture and public spaces in urban environments. George earned a Bachelor of Arts in architecture, with honors, and a minor in real estate studies, from Lehigh University.
Trained in both architecture and landscape architecture, Tim has worked on a wide range of projects specific to the public realm of cities. Prior to joining PAU, Tim was a Senior Designer at Martha Schwartz Partners, where he led master planning projects throughout the world, including a new healing garden for Maggie’s Centre in London, a landscape masterplan for Nassau Hub on Long Island, a waterfront park in Baku and a new city plan for Hudayriyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Tim also worked on multifamily housing developments in Philadelphia while at Wallace Roberts and Todd.
Tim earned a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture with distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Architecture from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Tim was also the recipient of the 111th Stewardson Fellowship in Architecture and the 2016 Harvard International Community Service Fellowship. Tim is a registered architect in Pennsylvania.
Mahdi Sabbagh is an Associate at PAU. Prior to joining PAU, he worked for Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, where he focused on university campus design. Mahdi earned a Master in Architecture from Yale University where his work centered on urban masterplans and affordable housing design. He was awarded the AIA Henry Adams Medal for excellence in architecture for his independent study on the depiction of Bedouin landscapes in colonial exploration. Mahdi was the co-editor of Perspecta 50: Urban Divides (MIT Press, 2017), and his writing has been published in the Journal of Public Culture, Jerusalem Quarterly, The Funambulist, and Jadaliyya.
Mateo Fernández-Muro is an architect and urban researcher. 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.
Fernando Canteli de Castro has worked in the Urban Design Division at the New York City Department of City Planning and in the Planning and Preservation Department at the Municipal Art Society of New York. He is licensed to practice architecture and urban planning in Barcelona, Spain. Fernando graduated from ETSAM, Polytechnic University of Madrid, with a Master of Architecture and Urban Planning degree. His final thesis, which focused on the application of urban acupunctural approaches to improving neighborhoods and housing in low-income areas outside of Madrid, was awarded honors. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in theories of urban practice from the Parsons School of Design.
Chuxue Zoe Wang has practiced architecture in Paris, Shanghai, and New York, working on an art museum in Moscow and several renovation projects in Shanghai, among other jobs. She earned her Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University, where she won the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize and the RPBW Internship Fellowship. Chuxue holds a BS in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Junxi Wu 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.
Kutay Biberoglu 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.
Eliah Cappi is a designer at PAU. Eliah earned his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin. While at UT Austin he was awarded the Blake Alexander Traveling Fellowship, which enabled him to research the emergence of modernism from classical architecture in Scandinavia. Eliah also holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Georgia Institute of Technology, where he heavily focused on digital fabrication, with his research being exhibited at the Centre Pompidou. He has practiced both in the continental US and Northern Europe.
Lien-Kuang Yeh earned a Master of Architecture II degree from the Cooper Union. He practiced architecture at Fieldoffice Architects in Taiwan before joining PAU, participating in multiple types of public projects ranging from a dance theater to urban renovation. His full-scale installation graduate thesis explored the field of realism, architectural uncanny, and defamiliarization, interrogating the familiar, ordinary reality. The work consisted of many installations, including a diagonal-cross-room fake structural beam and full-scale images of corridors occupying real corridors. Lien-Kuang also holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from National Cheng Kung University.
Maria Alataris 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 brings a wide array of architecture and design 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.