Marron Institute: One NYU Urban Studies Center to Rule Them All

The Marron Institute won't quite rule them all.

The Marron Institute won’t quite rule them all, but it will rule a few of them.

New York City urbanists could be forgiven for experiencing a bit of déjà vu last week when New York University announced the launch of the Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment. The new center, made possible by a $40 million gift from financier billionaire Donald B. Marron, will join a panoply of urban studies centers at the university, and be headed up by Richard Revesz, whose tenure as dean of NYU School of Law ends in May.

Speaking by phone with The Observer, Mr. Revesz said that the Marron Institute will lead three subordinate, already-existing NYU programs: the Center for Urban Science and Progress, the Institute for Public Knowledge and the Urbanization Project.

The Stern School of Business’ Urbanization Project focuses on the developing world and was founded by visionary charter cities advocate/neo-colonialist (depending on your leanings) Paul Romer. As for the Institute for Public Knowledge, it describes its difficult-to-define and somewhat nebulous mission as selecting and developing “topics for consideration and discussion in an effort to bring together academics, social researchers, and organizational leaders around issues of public concern.”

CUSP will eventually move into 370 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which it acquired from the MTA, and is already in the process of admitting its first class of masters students.

Nonetheless, things are already in the works for the fall semester.

“We’re planning to put out a competition to provide some funding for collaborations across more than one unit on cities and the urban environment, and put out a proposal to spur collaboration,” Mr. Revesz said.

He added that the Marron Institute plans “to bring together seven different entities in the university to do something on Hurricane Sandy.” The “Urban Environment” portion of the Marron Institute’s portfolio will focus not only on ecological issues, but also on “governance, design and social justice,” according to Mr. Revesz. He added, though, that it’s “too early for hires” for the Marron Institute.

The Marron Institute will also coordinate activities at the remaining urban studies programs, including the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Furman is headed by Mr. Revesz’s wife, Vicki Been, who has done pioneering research on the impact of the Bloomberg rezonings.

Update: The Observer has updated the article to reflect the fac that Mr. Revesz said that it was too early for hiring at the Marron Institute, not at CUSP, which has already begun admitting its first class. We regret the error.