Posts byelushika

Thesis workshop with the fab 5


I hosted a thesis workshop today to receive feedback for my 5 ideas. I recruited 6 people from SVA, who had some knowledge of my ideas to some who had no idea what I was up to. The workshop was for 75 mins, I time-boxed each session to make good use of the time I had reserved from all.

Idea worksheet

I created worksheets for each idea.
It included sketch of idea, description, what makes this idea interesting? what thought does it represent? And other variations of that particular idea.

In each time-boxed session, I asked everyone to think about what makes the idea interesting and build on that idea.

It was a very useful workshop, it validated some of my ideas and questioned most of my assumptions. This also helped me to go towards a narrower path, meaning there was a clear favorite and the another ‘this could be an interesting idea’.


Some of the key things that I learned from the workshop was “Story telling can go so far”, “How can you change a person’s behavior with data?”, “In urban planning, local government will always be involved” and “don’t forget about cost!”


I will report back with an in-depth report of feedback and comments of each of the ideas.  Stay tuned!

The fab 5

I started to brainstorm ideas for my thesis. I timebox a couple of hours on a weekend and sketched out 10 ideas. After an action packed bloody dual long discussion with my thesis advisor, 5 were picked and they are:


Organizing my research

I am never this organized, but I decided to start to organize my research for my thesis. Bookmarking links does not cut it for me anymore. Especially, when I forget what they were about a week later. Researching for my thesis is information overload and super detailed in my organizing.

Here is the screenshot of what it looks like in my google drive.


I receive my research from all over. From the internet, books, videos, talks I go to and interviews. So I decided to make these my main categories.  Then I would break down each research by adding the source, summary, and tagging them. The summary is the essence of the article and tagging them helps it to be a quick reference.

Thesis Plan [Phase 2]

After having a great discussion with my thesis advisor, progress is being made. This week to-dos:

Week of October 16-16

  1. Dig deep into the chosen ideas (timebox 1 hour)
  2. Research more on rising currents and future of sea levels
  3. Contact Emergency management office in NYC
  4. Go back in history and look at natural water-ways

October 04-16: Done

  1. Research more on other cities and countries
  2. How they deal with floods: Holland and Colombia
  3. What NYC is doing for preparedness: Download app and visit website
  4. Get some ideas from the research: Mock up and sketches

Documenting brainstorming [1]

Last week, on Tuesday we got into groups. Each of us had 30 minutes or so to talk about our thesis topic and as a group brainstorm ideas. I was kind of excited for this exercises because I felt a bit stagnant about my ideas.

Unfortunately, when it was my turn…it was difficult. Maybe my facilitation was not good and I do admit I have a tough topic. I mentioned that I could take 2 paths: A crisis management based upon city planning and the other focusing on the residents, especially the elderly. One the comments that I received was I was too specific. Personally, I thought narrowing the topic would help, since this is a broad topic.

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The ideas that came out during my brainstorm session were just improvements of my existing ideas. I was disappointed in the end as the results were not anything new.

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With that said, this motivated me to talk to more of my classmates who were excited about my topic. I had a long conversation with James. He helped me work through some tough barriers. I am in a better position today and I can say I have made progress.
I also spoke to my accountability buddies (Uijun and Paola), they gave me tasks to complete based on the brainstorm session.

Tasks to complete – October 04-11

  1. Research more on other cities and countries
  2. How they deal with floods: Holland and Colombia
  3. What NYC is doing for preparedness: Download app and visit website
  4. Get some ideas from the research: Mock up and sketches

Thesis Plan [Phase 1]

Thesis area: Emergency, water ways, rainy days. This is a very broad topic and there are so many directions, that I can take.

Goal for phase 1: To do much more secondary research on my thesis idea and hope to narrow down my topic y 10%

October 04-11

  1. Research more on other cities and countries
  2. How they deal with floods: Holland and Colombia
  3. What NYC is doing for preparedness: Download app and visit website
  4. Get some ideas from the research: Mock up and sketches


  1. Gather more information on FEMA process, UNICEF, Red cross.
  2. Contact people in the emergency and crisis management to understand their day-to-day and during a disaster
  3. Find people on LinkedIn and contact them
  4. Join Emergency LinkedIn groups
  5. Join Facebook groups on Emergency services and post on the walls
  6. Create a list of people who get affected by a disaster
  7. What is currently out there to help _____________
  8. Who is my audience?
  9. How do___________survive a flood?
  10. Research on cities and rising sea level
  11. Join Team Rubicon

(more to include)

October 4th

  1. Join Team Rubicon
  2. Find people on LinkedIn and contact them
  3. Join Emergency LinkedIn groups
  4. Join Facebook groups on Emergency services and post on the walls
  5. Create a list of people who get affected by a disaster

Talk of image cluster

I had a sit down with Kohzy about my image cluster. I thought he would be the good fit since he is interested in city planning and infrastructure. It was a short chat, but helpful. He saw some themes, that wasn’t obvious to me.

According to my image cluster, I can go both ways. I can go big into systems thinking or small into a human level and objects.

The systems thinking can be a city or worldwide. Building a new world to live permanently on water. Re-examine the levees in New Orleans, how water travels through the city during rain and floods.

The human level ideas can be surviving after the floods; to find food and shelter on water. Rescue mission people trapped in water.

From my image cluster, I can go many ways. While I was planning for my thesis, I was hoping that I will not run out of ideas. It seems now, I have too many ideas.



The future is near

This video was filmed during the 1960’s predicting the future of 1999. The common theme of the video was everything is computerized at your home, even the food you ate were prepared automatically by a tap of a button. 1960’s were on point about the future. Most of the things that they predicted did not happen in 1999, but are happening now and most likely will happen in the future.

I decided to design a 2×2 matrix and see where the predictions fell within the matrix. By doing this, it dawned on me that their future has little to no human interactions. There was a video conferencing and that was used within the house to talk to each other in different rooms. In the end, they did have a house party to show off the video that they recorded, but in the day-to-day, there weren’t any human interactions, except during dinner time.

We already have less human interactions in our day to day lives with Slack, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp… the list goes on. Are we going to spend our lives indoors and have more computer interactions?

What did 1960’s predict?


Designing Cities for Rainy Days


I got a chance to listen to a talk, sponsored by AIA New York, Center for Architecture. There speakers represented from 4 cities: Copenhagen, Rotterdam, New Orleans and New York. These cities have started to think and re-design cities during heavy rains and floods.

Things I learned about Copenhagen:

This city has already started to design for the 100-year storm. In 2011, there was a major rain, that collected 150mm of water in 2 hours. The city wasn’t prepared for that.

The city looked into natural flow water, using the existing city infrastructure. Then, the city planned man-made waterways, to help move water to the harbor.

They created 4 types of typologies:

  1. Cloudburst roads: Cloudburst roads are used to channel and direct cloudburst water. These streets can be formed with a V-shaped profile and raised herbs to ensure water will flow in the middle of the road, away from the buildings.
  2. Central retention: Central retention areas are proposed in the squares and park where it is possible to delay stormwater so that cloudburst roads can be established in smaller dimensions. The central retention elements can be, for example, open depressions in the parkland or lowered seating areas
  3. Green streets are proposed as an upstream connection to all cloudburst roads. The green streets should be established with a combination of small-scale channels and stormwater planters or permeable paving. Stormwater should be collected, delayed and then channeled towards the cloudburst roads.
  4. Local retention: Local retention is small scale solutions for individual plots or communal areas. These areas deal with stormwater directly where it lands, typically in local risk areas are low. The solutions are small scales such as rain gardens and storm water collection units. For example, The lake is lowered, so it can retain more water during a storm.

Place in Copenhagen, that newly designed:  Tasinge Square, SKT. Annae place, Enahue park (the park becomes a reservoir, then a park again in 24 hours) and The soul of Norrebro.


Financial and economic issues, political backup, different wishes to urban life, clash of professions: different experts need to compromise and have a working solution that is good for the city.

Things I learned about New York:

Hot days and wet days are increasing. According to NYC Department of Environmental Protection, rain is going to increase 4-11% by 2050 and 5-13% in 2080.

Green space in NYC is limited. There is NYC program called Blue belt, which restores wetlands. It is a natural solution for stormwater management.

Green infrastructure: Retrofitting NYC streets, creating rain gardens. (PS261, BK)

During extreme events, there are technical restraints, they will partner on cloudburst management. There are 6 restraints: Community, flooding canal, green space, cost benefit, and co-benefits

NYC has started to look into a natural flow of water. Asking questions, such as; Where does water go? Where do you want it to go?

The city is also looking into making bike paths waterways during a storm. It is called ‘Green corridors for water.’

South Jamaica houses have an active gardening community, so in that scenario water will retain for plants and excess water will be taken out.

Thesis topic ideas


New Orleans, LA:

My second home. A beautiful city is below sea level. Icebergs are melting, sea levels are rising. New Orleans won’t be able to survive another category 5 hurricane. The city a sponge and it won’t stand longer. According to Huffington Post, Louisiana won’t be able to survive.

At the current rates that the sea is rising and land is sinking, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists say by 2100 the Gulf of Mexico could rise as much as 4.3 feet across this landscape, which has an average elevation of about 3 feet. If that happens, everything outside the protective levees — most of Southeast Louisiana — would be underwater.

20 years from now, will there be any earth to live on? Are we going to live on water?

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Future of tennis:

imagecluster-3Watching tennis: I recently went to see the US Open and got lucky enough to sit near the courts. I got to see the magic Djokovic and the hard work of Wawrinka. It’s hard to explain being so close to the players.I was able to feel their frustration and the joy of scoring a point. I am not always this lucky scoring court seats. Two years ago, I sat in the 300 level, Serena was basically an ant. I did not experience the magic, similar to
court seats. How can I experience the court seats even when I am at home?

Playing tennis: There are tons of technology out there that allows the player to see how fast they serve? Or to see where shot the ball. Player coaches can review them and advise the player on how to improve their game. With future wearables, VR, AR and trackers how can we improve this experience?

Other ideas (in progress)

Future of journalism: With drones and everything online, what is the future of news?


Ergonomics: Smart furniture that will automatically adjust to the form of your body and way of sitting.


Blocking hate: So many problems and hate happened, because of race and religion. What if there is a way to block that?

Perspective on news: What happens if you can read the news as a child’s perspective? Will it be happier?

On the go medical kit during crisis.



It Begins


August came and I heard about the floods in Baton Rouge. I found out that a few of my friends who moved to Baton rouge from Hurricane Katrina lost their house the second time. It is hard for me to explain what they went through the second time. Personally, I still can’t explain clearly my experience with Hurricane Katrina.

…over 20 inches of rain fell in less than 72 hours around Baton Rouge. Rainfall rates peaked at six inches per hour. A flood warning remains in effect for the rivers around Baton Rouge.Washington post

Was there any warning for this, not really. I mean they had warnings of heavy rain and flood warnings, but no one expected it to be this bad.

Sea levels are rising, New Orleans, a city below sea level will be one of the cities to go in the future. Will this happen 10 years from now? 20 years? Can New Orleans survive another category 5 hurricane? These were some of the questions, that I started to ask myself and started to fill out my blank canvas.

I started to fill out my blank canvas, with thesis topics:
Emergency Services, Future of New Orleans, Medicine during emergencies, sea level rising, boats….