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 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 thirty years of proven experience authoring and implementing visionary 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. Vishaan has been a principal at major architecture firms including SHoP Architects and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. He is a registered architect in the States of New York, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and is registered with NCARB.
Chakrabarti is the author of the highly acclaimed book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America (Metropolis Books, 2013), and is working on a second upcoming book for Princeton University Press entitled The Architecture of Urbanity: Designing Cities for Pluralism and Planet. Vishaan previously served as the William W. Wurster Dean of the College of Environmental Design. Prior to Berkeley, Vishaan was a professor at Columbia University for a decade.
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, 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.
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.
Vishaan 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.
Ruchika Modi is a Principal at PAU and a registered architect in the state of New York. She guides all aspects of the design process in the office and is currently overseeing the design of Princeton University’s newest residential college, Hobson College. Most recently Ruchika spearheaded 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 and the master plan and design of forty-one buildings as part of a mixed-use new development in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
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. 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.
Harry Ross is an Associate Principal at PAU. He joins with over 15 years of experience working in both large and small design-oriented architecture firms. Prior to joining PAU, Harry worked at RMJM Hillier, Grimshaw Architects, and Ennead Architects in New York and CORE, OPX Global and fieldCRAFTstudio in Washington DC.
Earning his Master of Architecture from The Catholic University of America and BA in French International Business from the University of Maryland, he continues to be an active participant in academia and has served as an Adjunct Professor at Catholic (Spring 2020) and guest juror at Pratt, NY, City College, NY, University of Maryland, and the Corcoran School of Art and Design, DC. Harry is a licensed architect, registered in New York, Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. In addition to being accepted as an expert in architecture by the District of Columbia and in Montgomery County Maryland as a client representative in land use cases, he is also a Certified Passive House Consultant, NCARB certified and a member of the American Institute of Architects and the Urban Land Institute.
Harry was the leader of the project team that won the AIA Atlanta Pavilion Design Competition and co-led the winning submission for a design-build parklet that promoted urban activity and community connection. He participated in ULI’s Leadership Institute which exposed young leaders across design, development and construction to the challenges and opportunities of regional partnership in the District, Maryland, and Virginia. With a process-first approach to architecture, Harry is excited to apply his passion and background in design and construction to the diverse portfolio of work on the boards at PAU.
Skylar Bisom-Rapp is a Senior Associate 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.
George Distefano is a Senior Associate at PAU. He 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.
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.
Fani Christina Papadopoulou is a registered architect in New York and a Senior Associate at PAU. Prior to joining PAU, Christina was an Associate at 1100 Architects in New York, where she managed the design, coordination, and construction of sophisticated and highly technical projects. She received her Master of Architecture II degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design after she completed a 5-year Master of Architecture in Architectural Engineering program at the National Technical University of Athens. She was awarded an Honorable Mention in The Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design: Student Work competition for her project on Boston Harbor’s Columbia Point in 2016 and her team won the “Urban Heat Island Effect” competition hosted by MIT’s Climate Colab in 2015. Fani Christina has written as an architectural critic for the Greek newspaper TA NEA and her work has been featured online and in print. She contributed to Pamphlet Architecture 36 published by Princeton Architectural Press. Fani Christina serves as a Board Member for GIANY, the Greek Institute of Architects in New York, where she has co-organized events “Blueprint of a Practice” in 2019 and “20×20 : Share the Stage” in 2020.
Kutay Biberoglu is an 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.
Eliah Cappi is an Associate 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.
Junxi Wu is an 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.
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).
Patricio Fernandez is a registered architect in Chile and a Designer at PAU. Prior to joining PAU, he worked at OMA in New York and Amunátegui-Barreau Arquitectos in Santiago. Patricio holds a BA in Architecture from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where his thesis project “Reactivation of the Cruz Grande Dock” won multiple awards.
Olivia Haynie is a Designer at PAU. Olivia has practiced at firms in Chicago, California, as well as OMA in New York. She earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University. Her thesis explored the layering of the urban ground plane over time in the rapidly sinking metropolis of Mexico City.
Jaime is a registered architect in Mexico and a designer at PAU. He earned a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Jaime holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico, where his thesis project “Museum of Protest” was awarded an honorary mention. Jaime has experience in architecture, urban design, and is a visiting Design Critic at the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico.
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).
Gregory Keller is a Designer at PAU. Prior to joining PAU, he practiced architecture at Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York. Gregory earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University and has also completed coursework in Renewable Energy Innovation & Sustainability at Reykjavik University in Iceland. His work has been exhibited as part of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale (2018) in partnership with the U.S. Pavilion. Gregory’s thesis project at Cornell, “Boundary Event: Reading the Cartographic Line,” focused on relationships between architectural space, maps, and borders.
Maria Lucia Morelli is a Designer 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.
Taesha Aurora is a Designer at PAU. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, where she was awarded George Ledlie Fund Commencement Award, the William Cooper Mack Thesis Fellowship, and the Innovator’s Merit Scholarship. Her thesis was a film exploring the role of architectural representation in shaping policy, media and desire for form and materiality in South Asia – hoping to reframe notions of “development” in the context of climate change and a rising global effort to decolonize our notion of what desirable cities, buildings and materials look like. While at Cooper Union, she was an instructor at the Saturday Program for architecture and has taught a summer studio under The University of Pennsylvania’s “Penn-Praxis” program. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has been published in the Architect’s Newspaper and e-flux journal.
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.