, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale School of Architecture, Assistant Professor Joint Appointment
Project Role: Community Outreach and Coastal Planning
Professor Felson is a landscape architect and urban ecologist whose research and practice focus on integrating knowledge of ecological processes with the multifaceted socio-economic, political and infrastructural factors of the city. Relying on a combination of basic and applied research coupled with the creative design process, he has established robust ecological experiments that help to define urban sustainability and guide planning and design. As components of built environments, his projects are functional and aesthetic, and they place experimentation in the public realm. As a practicing landscape architect in New York City, his projects ranged from the Harlem 123rd Street community garden to the New York City Reforestation Plan, where he and his team at EDAW orchestrated and are implementing a citywide parkland design strategy. The latter involves establishing standardized urban research plots as public space that also provides researchers with an opportunity for forest soil and carbon sequestration studies. Through an integrated design process he endeavors to create resilient and adaptable urban landscapes. The East River marsh planter designed with Ken Smith, Landscape Architect in New York City, is one such project. It works as a public research tool that adaptively manages constructed salt marsh habitats on a site where 30,000 commuters walk by daily. In a number of projects, Felson traverses scales so as to generate quantitative data, which then can inform urban design, master planning and construction practices and develop useful metrics. For the Tuxedo Reserve amphibian migration and larval density studies, which he developed as Director of Ecological Design at EDAW, he brought together a multidisciplinary team of academics and practitioners to establish research on vernal pools and inform road alignments, neighborhood layout, and housing lot locations for a 1,200-acre master plan development with The Related Company. Through outreach and consensus-building and by fostering communication among diverse stakeholders, Felson brokers win-win scenarios that work within the marketplace, and carefully balances the concerns of developers, planning boards, communities and regulators. In all cases, he aims to both define and encourage responsible management of urban ecosystems. For his market-driven ecological design work, he was recently included among Crain’s 40 Under 40 New York’s Rising Stars Class of 2009.