Michael Kwartler

Founder and President

Michael Kwartler, principal of Michael Kwartler and Associates, is an architect, planner, urban designer, and educator. He is the founding director and president of the Environmental Simulation Center, a non-profit research laboratory created to develop innovative applications of information technology to planning, design, and decision-making. His experience spans the worlds of government (e.g., senior positions in NYC Mayor’s Urban Design Council and Department of City Planning), real estate development (e.g., zoning, development plans and analyses for non-profit and for-profit developers), academia (e.g., former Director of Columbia University’s Program in Historic Preservation), and information technology (e.g. 3D GIS and the design of CommunityViz© the first 3D GIS based planning and design decision support software). As a result he brings a unique perspective and understanding of the diverse needs and interests of all stakeholders.

For over thirty years, his professional practice, teaching, and writings have focused on urban design and the theory and practice of legislating aesthetics, land-use regulations, and good city form. Examples of his work include the award winning performance-based Housing Quality Zoning Regulations and Midtown Zoning Regulations, both adopted by New York City; Greenwich Street South Urban Design and Regulatory Plan (with H3); Development and Regulatory Plan for the Port Authority of NY/NJ Hudson Yards Properties (Dyer Corridor) (with Cooper Robertson); Visual Simulation amendment to the Glen Cove Zoning Resolution; the Knowledge District/Downcity Urban Design Plan and Zoning Regulations for Providence, RI. (with Perkins and Will); study of potential development or TDR for the New York Public Library and CUNY (with HR&A); and the impact of proposed and existing Historic Districts on the Upper West Side on housing development. Writings on regulation and urban design include “Legislating Aesthetics: The Role of Zoning”: in Zoning and the American Dream (Haar and Kayden, 1990); “Regulating the good you can’t think of” of in URBAN DESIGN International (1999); “Just-In-Time Planning: New York + Houston” in Architectural Design (2005), and Visioning and Visualization: People, Pixels, and Plans (2008) (co-authored with Gianni Longo).

He is one of New York City’s most respected urban design, zoning, and development consultants, providing consulting services to the City’s major for and non-profit developers, cultural institutions, hospitals, schools and universities, public agencies and organizations. Clients include the NYC Department of City Planning, NYC Housing Authority, Empire State Development Corporation, the Port Authority of New York and NY/NJ, MTA, NYU, CUNY, Con Edison, Pfizer, Harlem Hospital, LIJ/Northwell, New York Presbyterian Hospital, NY Methodist Hospital, Village Care, DownState Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Center, Phipps Houses, Hosteling International, J.P. Morgan Chase, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Michael’s Church, the Armenian Cathedral, Community Board 7, and numerous architecture firms, real estate developers, and law firms.

Michael Kwartler studied Architecture at Cooper Union and Urban Planning at Columbia University. Entering the New York City government in 1969, he served as Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Urban Design Council and later joined the City Planning Department as Associate Director of the Division of Land Planning and Environmental Management. He has lectured widely and taught architecture and urban design at Arizona State University, the University of Oregon, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, M.I.T., Harvard University, Hong Kong University, and the Milano School of Public Policy at the New School.

He held the Clarkson Chair in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at SUNY /Buffalo and was awarded Cooper Union’s John Q. Hejduk Award in Architecture. Kwartler was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1990 for his work in developing “humane zoning regulations.” He was voted one of the 10 most important planners applying IT to planning and in 2016 awarded the APA NY Chapter’s Lawrence M. Orton Award for leadership in city and regional planning. He has served as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects and as an appointed public member of Community Board 5 in Manhattan.