The Curious Architect
Ever since she was a child, Rasika Girish Deosthali (M.S. ’22) wanted to help design cities. When it came time to pursue her graduate degree, New York Tech seemed like an obvious choice. “The curriculum is carefully crafted to familiarize someone like myself with the skills and information they will need to offer effective solutions now and, in the future,” she says of the architecture, urban design, M.S. program, adding that knowing how to incorporate technologies, such applying artificial intelligence in the design process, will be useful in her career. She talks to New York Tech News about her experience in the School of Architecture and Design and her career as an architect.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Nashik, India, with my younger sister. My father is a businessman working in the construction field, and he introduced me to architecture. Growing up in a small town with rich mythological and religious (Hindu) history, the city’s riverfront, and its rich architecture also influenced my choice of study.
After completing my undergraduate degree in architecture, I started looking for prospective colleges for a master’s, and since moving to the United States was my lifelong dream, I focused my research on colleges across the states. I decided to attend New York Tech because the course met all my needs and had the added benefit of being in New York City, which has a long history of urban planning and is one of the best locations to study urban design. Moreover, speaking with Associate Professor Marcella Del Signore helped me make my decision.
What made you choose urban design as your area of focus?
Coming from a small town with a complex network of small alleyways and countless turns in and out of the old town made me ponder how it was planned. This curiosity led me toward architecture. During my undergrad years, I learned about urban design and city planning, which in ways answered my original questions, so I decided to pursue a master’s in the subject.
Drawing even a single line on a plan holds enormous power in a city, town, or even a small area. The effect each decision has on the way a plan can turn out is very exciting and at the same time inspires a sense of responsibility to understand everyone’s needs. The goal is to make the city a better place for them and future generations.
Can you tell us about your internship with the New York City Department of City Planning?
During the summer of 2022, I worked in the Staten Island office. Before the internship, I never had an opportunity to visit the borough, and I had often heard people refer to it as “forgotten.” This internship changed that opinion about the borough for me. The people I met and worked with are very professional and knowledgeable in their respective fields, which allowed me to learn and get hands-on experience in what goes into making the city a better place. The internship was very well curated and had 28 interns across the department. We had frequent site visits to various parts of the city, including Governor’s Island, Roosevelt Island, East New York, and other places, to assess what type of rezoning or neighborhood land-use changes were needed. I worked mainly on smaller zoning/land-use applications submitted to the Staten Island office pursuant to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) as well as research about ongoing North Shore work. The daily ferry ride, which offered stunning views of downtown Manhattan, was immensely reviving and reassuring because it demonstrated that everyone can achieve their dream by believing in themselves.
You are now working for the Department of City Planning. Can you tell us about your role?
I rejoined the department as a borough planner at the Staten Island office in January 2023. I handle land-use/zoning applications, neighborhood studies. I also work on the new affordable housing initiative. The master’s program helped me in preparing myself to tackle multitasking, complex research, and software skills required for a designer/planner to successfully assess situations and provide feasible solutions.
As a student, did you work with New York Tech faculty on any projects?
I worked with Professors Marcella Del Signore and Tom Verebes, Ph.D., during spring 2022 as a research assistant on the exhibit Visions for a Future Food Deal at the sixth Tallinn Architecture Biennale in Tallinn, Estonia. The research project, which was also my design studio project for the spring semester, helped me to better grasp how the food network functions in a large city like New York. Our team created design concepts for what it would take to replace food produced on conventional farms in places worldwide, the United States, and in New York state with large-scale food production in New York City itself.
What advice do you have for first-year students?
If you are an international student like me, or if you are moving across state/s to attend New York Tech, don’t let starting college overwhelm you. It can be a little frightening and fascinating at the same time. It will certainly be an intriguing adventure as you learn a great deal more about yourself, other cultures, and your field of study. Don’t forget to make great friends and discover new places. Take part in the activities going on around you as they will help a lot in making this journey simple and relatable.
This interview has been edited and condensed.