Reinventing the Future of Neighborhoods
Paul Garcia (B.S. ’15) has immersed himself in innovative industries before, during, and after graduating from New York Tech in 2015—from developing digital marketing and kiosk solutions to tackling fleet management and dispatch challenges in the driverless car market.
And now, his latest project has pushed his boundaries beyond the tech market and into urban renewal. As co-founder of Rethink Urban Design, a “Kickstarter for real estate,” as Garcia calls it, he is working with local officials, neighborhoods, and civic organizations on new approaches that will help align funding and support for the redesign and regeneration of urban neighborhoods.
The initiative, which encourages participants to “design with purpose and help rising cities by showcasing a vision of its sustainable future,” has also provided Garcia with a way to reconnect with New York Tech—by inviting students, faculty, and alumni in fields ranging from architecture and design to engineering to management and health care to participate in Rethink Urban Design’s first interdisciplinary competition: Rethink Bayonne.
The Box checked in with Garcia to find out more about his newest project and virtual design competition scheduled for early December 2020.
How did this initiative come about?
The idea started when I bought a 100-year-old home about five years ago. I had bought a house after I got a good raise at my job, and it turned into a nightmare with sewage backups, bad insulation, and other structural issues that made me uncomfortable to sell the house and pass on the issues to someone else.
What are your goals and what do you hope to achieve?
My goal is to eliminate bad housing policies, move people to start shaping their cities, and create a service-learning framework that will give students the ability to earn money with the effort of their school projects.
Who is partnering with you?
We have been in talks with the city of Bayonne in New Jersey. They are excited, and so is Director [Regina] Gray from the Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). We are currently working with HUD to establish a long-term partnership.
How can students, faculty, and alumni get involved?
We are always looking for participation at any level. We want students and faculty to take up arms together and create teams to solve the housing crisis. We think that after this event, many teams will have found the business partners they want and ultimately increase entrepreneurship.
Is there anyone or any experience you had at New York Tech that helped inspire this effort?
Many of the professors I have had in the past have forced me to think differently. One class in particular—Foundations of Inquiry—taught me how to questions the way things are.