Three Fulbrighters founded Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization

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In 2010, three Fulbright scholars and architects from different walks of life came together and co-founded the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU). They were Aliye Pekin Celik, PhD, James McCullar, FAIA, Professor Lance Jay Brown, FAIA. Professor Urs Gauchat, Hon AIA joined them as the fourth founding member of the CSU. They all have been in passionate pursuit of equity, diversity, and inclusion ever since their Fulbright days. They early understood the need for local and global action and the importance multicultural cooperation if the world was to move forward and change for good. They are still on that path.

Aliye Pekin Celik came to Princeton University from Ankara as a Turkish Fulbright Scholar. James McCullar went to Fontainebleau in France and Lance Jay Brown to Paris as American citizens with the values of globalism, international contacts and the humanism that Fulbright scholarships inspired. At one point in their careers, they got together to support the values they believe in, by supporting UN in general, UN-Habitat in particular.

The CSU mission is to promote a better understanding of the role of sustainable urbanization in the planning of our cities. The CSU fosters exchanges of best practices and innovations through UN conferences and programs in collaboration with UN-Habitat, AIA New York, the City of New York, and allied organizations. The CSU endeavors to build bridges between the design community, the general public and UN organizations in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since its formation, the CSU has worked closely with UN-Habitat in development of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 11 and New Urban Agenda, which was adopted by UN member states during Habitat III in 2016 in Quito and by the AIA in 2018. The fact that Aliye was a staff member at the UN made it easier for them to get involved and they made a big effort to bring design professionals and the United Nations together by establishing the CSU. It was a pioneering effort. The CSU has organized numerous conferences and programs at the UN, the AIA-NY Center for Architecture, UN-Habitat World Urban Forums, and at Habitat III.

The fact that Aliye held leadership positions at the United Nations, James in the AIA, and among practicing architects and Lance in the AIA and academia drew them together in earlier UN collaborations such as Crosstown 116 project which was a follow up of the Habitat-II conference in 1996 and the UN ECOSOC organized Green Architecture meeting in 2005 and the UN Forum on Sustainable Urbanization in the Information Age in 2008 that led to formally co-founding the CSU. It was a pioneering effort.

Another Fulbright scholar, Oner Yurtseven, joined them as the treasurer in their early years. It was through their shared values of globalism, international contacts and the humanism inspired by the Fulbright experience that brought them together.

Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, DPACA, NOMA had the timely privilege of being a Fulbright Fellow in Paris in 1967 after he had completed both his first Architectural Degree and Master’s in Architecture in Urban Design Degree at the Graduate School of Design and Harvard University. As an undergraduate at Cooper Union, he knew that the future was the city. A grant to study and critique the recently released Paris Master Plan was a perfect launch for an emerging architect and urban designer. Later he taught and practiced locally, nationally, and internationally, He has been a Board Member and President of the AIA New York Chapter and has a wonderful career as a practicing architect. He co-Directed the HUD funded “Crosstown 116: Bringing Habitat II Home from Istanbul to Harlem” and numerous other urban design projects. He co-authored and edited many books.

Aliye Pekin Celik, PhD, is immediate past President of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU) and the Chair of the Board. She was instrumental in establishing innovative participatory mechanisms to build alliances addressing some of the world’s most pressing concerns as the Chief of Economic, Social and Inter-organizational Cooperation Branch, UN-DESA. She worked in UN-HABITAT Nairobi and New York as the Head of New York office of UN-HABITAT, on building technologies, sustainable urbanization, energy, and gender issues. In the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, she worked on energy conservation and affordable housing. She has B.Arch., M. Arch degrees in architecture from Middle East Technical University, MFA in Architecture from Princeton University, and PhD from Istanbul Technical University. Celik was a Fulbright Scholar (1968), received numerous awards, and wrote extensively.

James McCullar, FAIA, has served as President and Vice President of the CSU. He is the founding principal of James McCullar Architecture. The studio has engaged in the design of new housing and adaptive reuse of urban sites that have contributed to the revitalization of their communities. As President of AIA New York, he organized the response to Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC2030 in collaboration with UN GAID for the first UN Forum on Sustainable Urbanization in the Information Age, which led to formation of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization. His work received numerous awards. He received a BA and B.Arch. from Rice University, a Fulbright Fellowship for Urban Design in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Fontainebleau, France., and a M. Arch from Columbia University where his thesis was on the New York region.

H. Oner Yurtseven, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He served as Director, Department Chair, Associate Dean and Dean at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI .His areas of expertise are engineering and technology education, engineering accreditation, international engineering education, robotics, and renewable photovoltaic energy. He held academic and administrative positions at the Middle East Technical University and Indiana University, Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He was Provost of the Indiana University- Tenaga Nasional Berhad Cooperative Program, in Malaysia. He received BS in Electrical Engineering from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey, and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the John Hopkins University in where he was a Fulbright Scholar (1969).