Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2024

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


How should urban cities like New York City adapt with climate change? Can sustainability and cities co-exist? This paper addresses the environmental challenges New York City faces due to its geographical location and design plans of sustainable urban cities with a case study of Manhattan’s Chinatown. While there is existing discourse on ways to develop sustainably amid a grim environmental outlook, analyzing similar issues through racial and social perspectives are extremely critical particularly in a multi-culturally diverse city like NYC. This city offers rich architectural histories that intertwine with burgeoning immigrant communities during the 20th century. Chinatown, located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is known as the home to the one of the largest Chinese diaspora, but it was also once home to a large Jewish population particularly those of lower socio-economic class. Environmental justice, urban design, and climate change reveal interesting intersectionality. Through this paper, I will explore environmental concerns of the city as well as various green infrastructure to envision what the future of green cities may look like. Chapter One explores the ecological history of New York City, the city’s environmental challenges, as well as the history of Manhattan’s Chinatown. Chapter Two discusses current climate goals, building policies and regulations, and considerations of building construction materials. Next, Chapter Three examines environmental concerns through the lens of environmental justice as well as environmental injustices in Chinatown. Chapter Four proposes the sustainable urban design plan. Chapter Five analyzes the design plan through economic valuation frameworks. Lastly, Chapter six addresses policy recommendations to implement the urban design plan to address the growing climate crisis.