Robert Balder: AAP NYC: Lessons Learned 2006–16

AAP NYC studio entrance

Robert Balder (B.S. URS '89), since April 2011, has served as the Gensler Family Sesquicentennial Executive Director of AAP NYC, where he administers the program on behalf of its three departments. Balder led the effort to plan, design, and build the new New York City studio that opened in spring 2015, and helped to advance AAP's Executive Education Program, which was initiated that summer. He also teaches two graduate-level courses on urban planning/professional practice each fall.

Prior to joining Cornell, Balder was global practice leader for Gensler's planning and urban design group, focusing on master planning for academic, cultural, waterfront, and mixed-use projects. His expertise includes project management and community facilitation. Balder's public sector experience includes 12 years at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where he served three mayors (Dinkins, Giuliani, and Bloomberg), and he was executive vice president for real estate development whose mission is to promote the redevelopment of city-owned assets in all five boroughs. Before moving to New York City full-time, he worked for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services and was the founding director of the Mutual Housing Association of Tompkins County.

Balder received his bachelor of science in urban and regional studies from Cornell University and is a member of the Urban Land Institute and the American Planning Association. He is also cochair of the New York City Waterfront Committee.


The fall 2016 semester marks the 10th anniversary of AAP NYC. The program is a part of Cornell's larger initiative to establish a greater academic presence in New York City. In the past decade, AAP NYC has dramatically expanded its reach by renewing alumni relationships, increasing the number of academic internships, and providing students with opportunities for full-time employment. In his lecture, Balder will highlight the roots of the AAP NYC program from the 1960s to today, including critical steps to its renewal in 2006. In addition, core elements of the academic programs will be covered, especially the development and spring 2015 opening of the new studio in the historic Standard Oil Building in lower Manhattan. He will also emphasize how students in the Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.) program have benefited from their study of New York City in the Urban Design Studio and Urban Planning Workshop, as well as their overall participation in the program.

Close overlay