Master of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Fine Arts (2000)
Master of International Affairs, Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (1995). Concentration: Economic Development. Focus Area: Urban Planning
B.A., Columbia University (1992). Major: Religion and Non Western Philosophy. Minor: Fine Art (printmaking)
Vanessa is a registered architect and the Principal of Studioteka, an award-winning design firm she founded in 2003. Based in DUMBO, Brooklyn, Studioteka approaches design through a multidisciplinary lens that spans the boundaries between architecture, economic and social development, and urban and environmental concerns. Vanessa is especially interested in the issues faced by cities as they adapt to climate change, and in envisioning design-oriented technical and engineering solutions to environmental problems. The firm’s design work and writing has appeared in USA Today, Frame Magazine, Mark Magazine, The Architect’s Newspaper, Hinge Magazine, Surface Asia, Urban Omnibus, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Metropolis and Design Bureau. Vanessa is the author of 2100: A Dystopian Utopia – the City After Climate Change, a book on the future of cities in a hotter world with a preface by Saskia Sassen, published by Terreform as part of Michael Sorkin’s Urban Research Series. She is also an editor of “Kingston Harbor: Development Transects,” a book of urban design work published by Columbia University in 2010. The firm’s work ranges from urban, residential and commercial design, interior design, lighting and custom elements, planning, feasibility studies and investment packages, as well as design research and writing.
Past work includes Metro Gardens, the complete gut renovation of a 48-unit apartment building in Harlem, two micro apartment gut renovations in the East Village, the recently completed Aladdin Hookah Lounge in Astoria, and Midtown East Plastic Surgery Office Suite and Annex, for Dr. Yael Halaas in Manhattan. Ongoing commercial work includes Elevenses, a 500 sf pastry cafe and Sac’s Place, a 3,000 sf upscale Italian restaurant, both in Long Island City, the interior renovation of a high end cosmetic dentistry suite in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Ongoing residential work includes a 3 bedroom, 2 bath duplex and a 3 bedroom, 3-1/2 bath pied a terre, both in the West Village, a two story house addition in Long Island, and a vertical house addition in Astoria. Larger scale work includes a boutique hotel and resort in the Dominican Republic as well as Caribbean Highlands, an eco-community on 128 acres in Costa Rica which includes luxury condominiums and single family villas as well as hospitality, health and wellness programs. City of Dreams, a $2.8 billion USD mixed use hospitality project located in Macau on the Cotai Strip, and UPR, a 25-year Masterplan for the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus were both done in collaboration with L’Observatoire International and Herve Descottes.
Vanessa gave the Alan H. Rider Distinguished Lecture, in which she discussed 2100: A Dystopian Utopia and the office’s work on design for climate change at Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture in February, 2017. She was interviewed on her work on the climate crisis by progressive radio and TV host Peter B. Collins on his podcast, and on “In Conversation” his San Francisco Bay Area TV program, in 2019, and was published as a Featured Member of the AIA of New York and profiled in Modelo Design Manifestos. She was the keynote speaker at the Louisville Sustainability Summit in Kentucky in October, 2017 with the theme, Resilience, Equity and Climate Change, and also gave a keynote at the 2018 AIAS Northeast Regional Conference, “Reach,” in April, 2018. She was an invited speaker at the 2018 Drawdown Learn Conference on climate change at the Omega Institute of Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, and has also given workshops on sustainable travel and leisure to audiences at Impact Travel Alliance and A/D/O in New York. She was also a panelist at “Cities and the Future of Negative Emissions,” an event sponsored by Urban Green in New York on urban applications for Direct Air Capture technology. Vanessa has spoken to audiences at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgia Tech, Clark Atlanta University, the AIA of New York, Parsons School of Design and the Economic Development Corporation of the City of New York, among others, on her ideas regarding sustainability, green design and innovative climate change adaptation, and has taught graduate and undergraduate design studios in architecture, urban and interior design, and economic development at Columbia University’s GSAPP and SIPA, Pratt Institute, and the City University of New York.