Featured Faculty: David Hsu
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David Hsu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Urban planning has the best problems to work on, because as a field it addresses cities, where the majority of all humanity now lives, works, and consumes resources,” shared Dr. Hsu. “As an environmental planner, I’m interested in the ways that cities impact the environment through massive systems of infrastructure.”

Infrastructure connects cities and the local and global environment through systems with physical, technological, and social aspects. Dr. Hsu's research and teaching focus on how to demonstrate new opportunities for urban planners and environmental policymakers to shape this relationship within these systems using technology, data, and analysis. Much of his work seeks to assist a wide range of actors -- local policymakers, planners, advocates, as well as academics -- directly with design, planning, policymaking, and policy implementation.

Topics of particular interest include the design, planning, governance, and operation of energy and water networks; energy access and adoption of new technologies; information policies such as disclosure and user feedback; new technologies and strategies to control distributed energy sources, electric vehicles and stationary storage; and data analysis.

Dr. Hsu taught previously at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University and worked in engineering, finance, and in the city governments of New York and Seattle. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Yale University in physics, a Master of Science from Cornell University in applied and engineering physics, a Master of Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science in city design and social science and from the University of Washington in Seattle, a Ph.D. in urban design and planning and a certificate in social science and statistics.

A member of ACSP for nearly a decade, Dr. Hsu also serves the organization as a track chair. “As
an ACSP track chair for analytical methods and computer applications, it is exciting to help highlight new work that uses cities as laboratories for new ways of knowing, sensing, and managing,” shares Dr. Hsu.

Here’s more from our conversations with Dr. Hsu:

Q: How long have you been a member of ACSP?
A: 7 - 10 Years

Q: Have you won any awards?
Fulbright NEXUS Scholar to Brazil, 2012-2013

Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: Benchmarking policies to promote energy efficiency in buildings in New York City: it has been nice to see this policy spread and adopted by many other cities. Advocates have relied heavily on research that I and others have done to promote this policy.

Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: I'd like to demonstrate some new opportunities for planners and planning researchers to shape the relationship of cities and the environment, by intervening in infrastructure systems using new data, technologies, and policies.

Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: I now spend way too much time thinking about how to commute from home to work and back using multiple modes.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: I wanted to be an astronaut, but I did end up a space cadet.

Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: New Haven, Boston, London, New York, Seattle, Philadelphia and Boston again. Each one fit a different part of my life, but I probably miss Seattle the most.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: Holland or Japan, to explore by bicycle and train.

Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: I should give a more highbrow answer, but Night School by Lee Child is just one long exercise in deductive reasoning.

Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: Orange, and it's a good, bright color to overlay on all surfaces to connect disparate things linearly.


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.


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