Ron Shiffman is a city planner with 45 years of experience providing program and organizational development assistance to community-based groups in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Trained as an architect and urban planner, he is an expert in community-based planning, housing and sustainable development. He has had extensive experience bringing together private and public sector sponsors of housing and related community development projects.
In 1964, Ron Shiffman co-founded the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development [PICCED] – the nation’s largest, public interest architectural, planning and community development office in the country. In 1965 working with the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council and Sen. Robert Kennedy he helped to conceive and launch the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation one of the nation’s first community development corporations. In the early 70’s working with members of the AIA he established within PICCED the Pratt Architectural Collaborative a public interest architectural and design service that assists low and moderate-income communities and continues to serve that function today. He is recognized as one of the founders of the community design movement in America and was one of the organizers of what today is known as the Association of Community Design Centers.
Today, PICCED [now known as the Pratt Center for Community Development. PCCD] is the oldest continuously operated university-based planning and technical assistance and training organization in the United States working with community-based groups in low- and moderate-income communities. PICCED operated a Community Economic Development Internship, which has trained over 250 leaders of community-based organizations in the design and development of housing and community economic development skills.
He is a tenured professor at Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture where he chaired the Department of City and Regional Planning from 1991 to 1999. He has taught and developed courses on urban and community planning, advocacy and architecture, participatory planning, sustainable development and the history and philosophy of community development. In recent years, he has written extensively and advocated for the need to revitalize neighborhoods through comprehensive and integrative planning strategies. He Retired as Director of PICCED in July 2003 and is now a full time faculty member at the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute. He has served as a consultant to HUD, the USAID and the Ford Foundation on national and global community-based planning, design and development initiatives and he has served on a number of gubernatorial and mayoral task forces. Mayor David Dinkins appointed Ron Shiffman to the New York City Planning Commission, where he served as a Commissioner from 1990 to 1996.
Since 1996 he has lectured extensively on Sustainable Development and community development strategies. Ron Shiffman directed and was the principal planner in the development of the Greenpoint and Williamsburg community initiated 197a plans, which resulted in the City’s rezoning of the area – one of the largest and most ambitious rezoning actions in New York City’s history. While the zoning approved by the City was far denser than originally proposed, the City Council and the Mayor for the first time adopted an Inclusionary Housing program and established a housing trust fund for affordable housing. A 1983 study that Prof Shiffman directed [with Paul Davidoff], entitled “Inclusionary Zoning and Housing Trust Fund –A Proposal for Equitable Development in New York City,” launched the more than decade long fight in NYC and other communities throughout the country for the adoption of this innovative approach to housing development. Most recently he directed the preparation of the Pratt / Municipal Art Society Manufacturing and Land Use Study entitled “Made In New York.” In a related effort, he was a founder and past president of the board of the New York Industrial Retention Network
Prof. Shiffman was actively involved in a number of post-September 11th New York City rebuild initiatives and coalitions. He was a co-convener, with the Regional Plan Association of the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, a member of the AIA’s New York New Visions, Rebuild Downtown Our Town and the Labor Community Activist Network. He played a critical role in bridging the gap between citywide organizations and community based organizations and communities of color. He assisted in the establishment of and sits on the boards of Shared Interest, an organization that guarantees micro-loans for community development activities and emerging black enterprises in the new South Africa. Mr. Shiffman is a past president of the Salzburg Congress on Urban Planning and Development, an international group of architects, city and regional planners and urbanists. He recently accepted an invitation to join the National Advisory Board of the Center for Social Inclusion, a national policy advocacy organization that works to dismantle structural racism. He also serves as a board member of the Center for a Living City, which promotes the ideas, and teachings of Jane Jacobs and in a related effort served on the Rockefeller Foundation selection committee for the Jane Jacobs Medal, which is awarded annually.
Ron Shiffman is the recipient of numerous awards from community based organizations, national advocacy groups including local and national awards from ADPSR [Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility], the local chapters of the AIA and American Institute of Certified Planners, the Municipal Art Society and he has authored a number of articles on urban planning, social justice and community economic development. In 1988 he received the ADPSR Lewis Mumford Award in Peace, Development and the Environment where he was cited for his development work. He has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners [AICP] since May 1985 and in April 2002 was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. In September, 2006 He was made an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects for his contributions to the field and in November 2007 was the recipient of the New York City Chapter of AIA’s Sam Ratensky Award for his lifelong contribution to the development of affordable housing and equitable development. He and his wife, Yvette Shiffman live in Brooklyn in close proximity to their 3 children and 6 grand children. In December 2008 he was appointed by the Governor of New York, David Patterson to serve on the NYS State Brownfield Advisory Board.
What others have said:
Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Mike Wallace in his book “A New Deal for New York,” stated that Ron “should be declared a municipal treasure. Unfailingly generous, profoundly knowledgeable, and deeply committed (with no attendant impairment of his sense of humor), Ron illuminated many issues and helped brainstorm others – particularly matters of green design, tax policy, manufacturing, land use and housing.” In a 1970’s column naming Ron Shiffman one of the Village Voice’s Good Guys the late Jack Newfield said “that Ron Shiffman has saved more NYC neighborhoods than Robert Moses destroyed” and more recently the author/urbanist Roberta Brandes Gratz in introducing him said that “Ron has probably done more than anyone in this country to put the teaching of Jane Jacobs into practice.”