Maitri Pujara

Master of Urban Planning

Headshot Maitri

Can you tell us a bit about your job responsibilities?

I currently work as an Urban Planner at Gensler in New York City. Gensler is the world’s leading global architecture, design, planning, and strategic consulting firm, with 6,000+ staff working across 53 locations around the world. Our clients span large and small, private, public, and nonprofit. Our work reflects an enduring commitment to sustainability, and we are guided by our mission to create a better world through the power of design. As an urban planner and architect, I am focused on the idea of ecological urbanism, sustainable and resilient cities, and communities. My recent work includes urban design and planning projects such as sustainable campus planning, mixed-use entertainment districts, corridor planning, masterplans, urban density, and public realm for one of the world’s largest new urban developments. I am also deeply involved in research works at Gensler Research Institute. My team and I are currently working on the framework for post-conflict/disaster cities with a focus on Ukraine and cultivating resiliency in environmental justice communities such as Jersey City, Newark, & Elizabeth, New Jersey research projects. Lastly, I am also involved in speaking engagements at various national and international conferences.

Why did you choose NYU Wagner for graduate school?

I chose NYU Wagner for its unparalleled fusion of academic excellence, real-world impact, and policy-based approach, compared to other leading university's planning program. The pulsating energy of New York City, combined with a faculty of visionaries, commitment to sustainability and resilience, and the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the public sphere aligned perfectly with my aspirations. NYU Wagner isn't just a graduate school; it's a launchpad for visionary leaders shaping a future of profound societal change.

What impact do you hope to make through your career and/or organization?

I am an urban planner by training but an urbanist in terms of attitude of mind, with a passionate interest in cities. According to a recent UN report, 75% of humanity will be living in cities by 2050. As urban planners, architects, designers, and policymakers, we have an important role to play in shaping the future of cities. For many decades, a major challenge in the global South has been the widespread presence of slums and informal housing in bad conditions. Unrecognized urban growth, coupled with policy paralysis, has not only created unhealthy living conditions but also infrastructure nightmares. This includes poor physical quality of dwellings and surrounding areas that lack basic sanitation services, ultimately creating unhealthy and unsafe living conditions for a huge number of people. Nevertheless, the root of the problem lies in cultural, social, and political acceptance of discrimination. A lot needs to be done in South Asian countries, which are grappling with the unorganized urban growth coupled with policy paralysis, which has not only created unhealthy living conditions but also infrastructural nightmares.

How would you describe your experience as an NYU Wagner student?

My journey as an NYU Wagner student has been a transformative expedition. The vibrant community, coupled with the guidance of stellar faculty, has fueled my intellectual curiosity and commitment to effecting positive change. Every interaction and endeavor have been a stepping-stone toward becoming a more informed, impassioned, and effective leader in the realm of public service. To name a few, Courses such as Urban Planning and Methods with Prof Zhan Guo, Financial Management with Prof Martha Stark, Geo-Spatial analysis course with Prof Chris Whong, Urban Economics with Prof Ingrid Ellen, and most importantly Capstone Project with New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) really shaped my professional career. Till today, I use urban planning toolkit and spatial analysis tools in my day-to-day job. These courses informed me to navigate the complexity of public policy and administration, understand the role of economics, politics, governance, equity, and collaboratively work with different organizations to make change at community, neighborhood, and at the city-level. In short, Thanks to NYU Wagner for shaping my perspective and purpose in the world of public affairs.

What advice would you give other international students?

As an NYU alumna, I encourage international students to view their journey not just as an academic pursuit, but as a transformative adventure. Embrace the unfamiliar, forge connections across borders, and savor every cultural exchange. NYU's diverse tapestry provides a unique backdrop for personal growth, resilience, and lifelong friendships. Embody the spirit of curiosity, be resilient in facing challenges, and let the vibrant energy of New York City amplify your dreams. Your time at NYU is not just an education, it's a canvas to paint your global aspirations. Seize every moment, and let your international experience be the masterpiece that shapes your future.