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Samuelian_Michael - Michael

Michael Samuelian

Founding Director

Jacobs Institute Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech


Defending Density 


There is an aversion to density in America, density is a continual trope in the country, blamed for all of the ills of urban life, from crime and racial unrest in the middle of the 20th century to public health concerns today. In the early stages of the COVID pandemic density was the culprit, even though we’ve subsequently seen outbreaks in rural areas and sprawling cities across the United States. This paper will look into the root of America’s problems with density, its relationship with technology and argue that density is not the problem but the solution to the challenges of todays and to-morrow’s cities. As we deplete the resources of the planet, density is our most direct pathway to recover some balance with nature. And with the accelerated adoption of new digital technologies due to the COVID pandemic, geospatial differentiations will continue to matter less and less in cities. As geography declines in importance in tomorrow’s cities, the density of people and their social networks will fuel innova-tion. Finally, density is our best hope to create more equitable, diverse and sustainable urban environments to mitigate the existential challenges of a warming planet. 



Michael Samuelian the Founding Director of the Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech, a venture that bridges tech industries and academic research to address pressing urban challenges and public needs. He is an urban planner, real estate developer, professor and most recently the President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. From the revitalization Lower Manhattan after 9/11 to the creation of a new neighborhood in Hudson Yards and the activation of Governors Island he’s helped plan, design and develop some of the most transformative projects in New York City. Michael is an Assistant Professor at Cooper Union.

Prior to his appointment as President of the Trust, Michael was a Vice President with Related Companies, where he was responsible for the planning and design of Hudson Yards. After 9/11, Michael was the Director of Lower Manhattan Special Projects at the New York City Department of City Planning, helping the city's efforts to redevelop downtown. 

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