Any institution, from a great university to a small research think-tank, is only as good as the people it attracts, animates, and energizes. CBIPS is distinguished by being grounded in the serious, real-world challenges faced by communities across New York City and the globe. Since its founding it has attracted Fellows and Researchers (the terms are used interchangeably in the biography listings in this section of the website) who are interested in conjunction of technical, social and environmental problems facing cities like New York, and the means by which they can be addressed and resolved.

Feniosky Peña-Mora, Sc.D., is the Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, and Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. He also directs the Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space at Columbia. From 2014 to 2017, he was on public service leave to serve in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration in the role of Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC). He was responsible for over 1,200 projects valued in excess of $15 billion, undertaken by more than 1,400 workers and 1,320 consultants. He is currently on academic sabbatical for the 2024-25 academic year.

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Rick Bell, FAIA, is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University where he is currently the Acting Director of the Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space. He has served as Assistant Commissioner for Architecture & Engineering at the New York City Department of Design and Construction as well as DDC's Executive Director of Design and Construction Excellence. On leave from DDC he helped create and animate the NYC Center for Architecture as Executive Director of AIA New York. A licensed architect in New York and New Jersey, he has also worked in California, France and Switzerland.

See Faculty Profile under Deputy Director bio below