Newsmakers

 
 

Augment and Lift

At first sight, architect Brad Cloepfil ’85GSAPP thought the gray marble–clad structure at 2 Columbus Circle “was a telephone transformer building.”  Now he is redesigning the oft-reviled “lollipop building,” originally designed by Edward Durrell Stone, for the Museum of Arts & Design’s move there in September 2008…. Chief executive of Tishman Speyer Properties Jerry Speyer ’62CC, ’64BUS, a driving force behind the Museum of Modern Art’s recent expansion, will succeed Robert B. Menschel as chairman of MoMA’s board of trustees…. Thanks to a $15 million gift from real-estate developer Bernard Spitzer ’47SEAS and his wife, Anne, the American Museum of Natural History boasts a new Hall of Human Origins, which depicts human evolution with more than 200 casts of prehuman and human fossils and artifacts.


 
 

Les Honorés

At the Cannes Film Festival in May, the French government knighted Robert Shaye ’64LAW and Michael Lynne ’64LAW, co-chairmen of New Line Cinema, in recognition of their contributions to the arts…. Retired financier and resident of the famed Maison de Verre in Paris Robert Rubin ’89GSAS recently bought one of three portable aluminum houses designed by Jean Prouvé in 1951. Rubin donated the utilitarian prototype to an American foundation, which has placed it on long-term loan to the Centre Pompidou.


 
 

Lion Fever

Two former members of the Columbia football team have been drafted to the pros: Steven G. Cargile ’04CC is now a safety for the Denver Broncos and Hilliard “Tad” Crawford ’07CC was selected by the Canadian Football League to be free safety for the British Columbia Lions.


 
 

New York Tomorrow

Mayor Michael Bloomberg tapped former management consultant Rohit Aggarwala ’93CC, ’98GSAS, ’00BUS to be director of the city’s new Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. In cooperation with the mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board, which includes SIPA professor Ester Fuchs, the office will oversee PlaNYC, an initiative to improve the city’s infrastructure to accommodate nearly one million additional people by 2030…. Columbia professor of environmental health sciences Dickson Despommier ’64PH has earned press for his brainchild to fight global warming: vertical farm skyscrapers, which could offer a sustainable food supply and lead to “the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.”…Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’31GSAS, ’97HON, the 100-year-old widow of Wall Street tycoon Shelby Cullom Davis, recently gave $20 million to nonprofit Scenic Hudson for land acquisition and park improvement in the Hudson River area.  “I am delighted to do my part and hope others will take up my challenge,” says Davis, a Tarrytown resident since 1943.


 
 

Mme. Directrice

Ursula Burns ’82SEAS became president of Xerox Corporation, which she joined 27 years ago as a summer intern. Last year, Burns was listed among the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune magazine. This year, Hispanic Business magazine honored Maria Elena Lagomasino ’75LS, CEO of Asset Management Advisors, LLC, and a director of the Coca-Cola Company since 2003, as the 2007 Hispanic Business Woman of the Year.


 
 

Global Works

The Rockefeller Foundation recently appointed John W. Rowe, health policy and management professor at Columbia, to its board. Since the arrival of president Judith Rodin ’71GSAS in 2005, the foundation, which has more than $3.5 billion in assets, has proposed strategies for rebuilding the New Orleans area and has helped to fund the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. …Shyama Venkateswar ’97GSAS is now the executive director of the World Hunger Action Center, a museum sponsored by humanitarian agency Mercy Corps, scheduled to open in Battery Park City in spring 2008. The firm ESI Design, owned by Edwin Schlossberg ’67CC, ’71GSAS, will create the center’s interactive exhibits, including video dispatches from refugee camps and a worldwide disaster map.


 
 

Influencers

This year, Time magazine named visual arts professor Kara Walker one of 100 men and women whose “power, talent, or moral example is transforming the world.” Her installations and films, one colleague notes, “forcefully pluralize our notion of a singular ‘history.’” The magazine also honored both Warren Buffett ’51BUS for his $31 billion gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson ’92GSAS, dubbed as “the Carl Sagan of the 21st century — as long as you envision a Sagan who’s muscular, African American and as cool as his predecessor was geeky.”


 
 

This Thing of Ours

On the HBO series, the character Meadow Soprano attended Columbia, but The Sopranos also boasts some nonfictional University alumni, including Cara Buono ’93CC as Kelli Moltisanti, Carl Capotorto ’92SOA as Little Paulie Germani, and executive producer Ilene Landress ’88PS, who earned a master’s degree in nutrition before eschewing medical school to enter the entertainment industry.