It is the emotion that creates built environment and in turn the built environment creates emotion. I, as a contributor toward intervening in this cycle of creation and recreation, wish to make the world a Just place for all!

 

My passion for urbanism has inspired me to pursue multiple areas of expertise from architecture to urban design and urban development planning, spanning across many countries as part of academia and professional work. Being raised in India and Abu-Dhabi (UAE), I had the opportunity to experience multiple cultures at a young age. Having lived in the Middle East back then when it was not so much the developed glamorous part of the world, I feel astounded how the urbanization could transform the places and the people within a short span of two decades.

My exploration continued further through Architecture and Urban Design studies. I travelled to Karachi (Pakistan) to participate in The Asia Link program – a joint urban design studio project with Karachi University where we worked on a slum settlement site in the Old city of Karachi. I was a funded participant for Global Studio at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada). As part of the studio, I participated in a Design Charrette – Sustainability by Design to Envision Vancouver Downtown 2020 and the United Nations World Urban Forum III (UN-HABITAT event). After finishing study from India, I returned back to the Middle East to join the fast-paced development. I worked for the GHD Consultants – an Australian Architecture & Engineering firm office located in Doha, Qatar. My quest to understand the dynamics beyond the world of physical design that are shaping the urban life lead me to further my knowledge by pursuing Urban Development Planning at the Bartlett – University College London (UCL), U.K. I was also awarded with full Commonwealth Scholarship by the British Commission and the UCL.

After finishing Planning studies from London, I moved to the United States where being new to American Planning, I decided to work at the local level closer to the communities through the public sector. I joined City-County Regional Planning Commission (also a Metropolitan Planning Organization) at Springfield (IL) as an Associate Planner. The experience has added yet another fascinating dimension to my past global portfolio. There were two key aspects that broaden my experience. One is being represented as a public official who is working directly with the local citizen groups and second is to opine and produce visionary design documents as part of the governmental procedure to influence the public decision-making.

Through my experience of working at the Planning Commission as an Urban Designer/Planner, I have realized a tremendous potential of Design dimension to directly impact the implementation side of urbanism. As it is said, ‘it is easier said than done’, I explored my role as a designer with the visualization skills to intervene within the regulatory processes of planning, where many times the design is treated ostensibly as ‘the icing on the cake’ that is thought of after all the planning process is done. Being on a local platform, it was possible to connect with many different entities, public and private at all levels, and experiment to synthesize the varied ideas and concepts together as well as introduce the new ones into one holistic vision. Thinking through the design perspective with 3 dimensional visualization also provided a much-needed missing visual language to communicate with the elected and appointed officials and achieve effective civic engagement in the planning process. In my view, the public sector is a powerful platform to not only create a comprehensive vision but also to turn the ideas into action.

For further details on some of my selected projects please read ‘Palette of Works’ and see below for details of my resume.

 

Download >> RESUME

Neha Soni, AICP, LEED AP (ND & BD+C), CNU-A

 

EDUCATION

(Total 8 years)

MSc. Urban Development/International Planning (Sept. 2008 – Sept. 2009)
The Bartlett – Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London (UCL), London, U.K.

Master of Architecture in Urban Design (Jul. 2004 – Jul. 2006)
(Honors), Center for Environmental Planning & Technology University (CEPT), Ahmedabad, India.

Bachelor of Architecture (Jul. 1999 – Jul. 2004)
(Distinction with 2nd rank – GPA 3.68/4.0) Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, India.

 

AWARDS & INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) Award, UCL – The Bartlett, London, U. K. (Sept. 2008 – Sept. 2009)
DFID – Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (British Government) & University College London
One of two students chosen internationally for the full scholarship for MSc. Urban Development/International Planning at UCL, London, U.K.

Global Studio – University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (Jun. 2006)
Global Studio scholarship and CEPT Scholarship funded participant

Asia Link – International Joint Studio Project, Karachi, Pakistan (Aug. 2005)
Urban Transformation (Urban Design) Studio Participant
Project – Revitalizing neighborhood spaces in the Old city of Karachi
Strategies to improve living condition in the 
deteriorated slum settlement in close proximity with industrial units, Infrastructure development, Insertion of open green space network, Transformation of existing building typology

 

CERTIFICATIONS

AICP (APA)

LEED AP ND (USGBC)

LEED AP BD+C (USGBC)

CNU-A (Congress for the New Urbanism)

Licensed Architect, India (Council of Architecture)

 

AFFILIATIONS

American Planning Association, APA IL Chapter

Congress for the New Urbanism

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

(Total 6+ years)

GHD Global Pty. Ltd., Doha, Qatar (Sept. 2006 – Oct. 2007)

Urban Designer/Architect – Concept Design Team, Architecture Marketing Section

Assisted in preparing Master Plans, Site Planning & Landscaping, Design Details, Hand Rendered Sketches, Presentations

Selected Projects – Cultural Village (Urban Design concept, Site Planning, Landscape Design, Residential Villa Design development), Mannai Colony Development (Rebuilding staff accommodation), Palace for Sheikh Mishaal Al Thani at Farm Land, Aspire Sports City Complex, Qatar Airways Hotel, Mall at Abu Hamour, Multipurpose Hall.

 

SSC Regional Planning Commission, Springfield (MPO), IL (Jan. 2011 – present)

Associate Planner – Urban Design & Transportation Planning

Responsible for Urban Design and Detailed Sub Area Planning concepts incorporating Site planning, Landscape design, Transportation & Infrastructure systems, Sustainability principles; Research & Analysis, Area programming, Hand & Computer rendered Sketches, preparation of Design drawings & Presentation materials, Public meeting Presentations

Initiatives:

  • Urban Design as an integral part of the Planning Process
  • Incorporating Sustainability into various MPO activities

Selected Projects: (Please click on Project Titles below for details)

   

INTERNSHIP

(Total 1 year)

Urban Design Intern – Center for Research & Development Unit, CEPT University, India, (Apr. 2006 – Aug. 2006)

  • City Lake Development Project – Design & detail Working Drawings

Architecture Intern – Ar. Dean D’cruz, Goa, India, (Jun. 2002 – Dec. 2002)

  • Design Details, Working Drawings, Hand rendered Sketches, Client Meetings, Site Visits

Freelance Landscape Projects, India, (2004)

 

SELECTED ACADEMIC PROJECTS

(Please click on Project Titles below for details)

 Download >> ACADEMIC PORTFOLIO

 

PRESENTATIONS – Speaker

(Please click on Titles below for details)

INVEST Project Presentations – download >> Power point Pdf and FHWA Case Study

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Fall Planning Conference (2015) Speaker - Utilizing INVEST for Plans and Projects (Agenda)

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) National Conference (2013) Speaker – FHWA Panel Session – MPO INVEST-ments in Sustainability (Agenda)

National Webinar (2013) Speaker – FHWA, INVEST

 

TOD Project Presentations – download >> Part I, Part II and Project Booklet

Illinois Association of Regional Council (ILARC) Annual Meeting (2011) 

SATS (Springfield Area Transportation Study) members Presentation (2012)

DSI (Downtown Springfield Inc.) Public Presentation (2012)

Citizens Club of Springfield (2012)

Feedback Discussion with SDAT (Sustainable Design Assessment Team) (2012)

TIFIA Workshop by FHWA (2013)

Press:

The State Journal Register, Springfield, IL – January 8, 2012

The State Journal Register, Springfield, IL – February 9, 2012

WUIS News – February 9, 2012

Illinois Times, Springfield, IL – February 23 - Online news

Cover Story >> Cover PageInside pages 1Inside Pages 2

Illinois Times, Springfield, IL – March 29 >>  Inside Story

 

PUBLICATIONS – Blogs

(Please click on Titles below for details)

Case Study of INVEST – FHWA Sustainable Highways

Our MPO story of ‘INVEST – A Sustainability Tool’

Can we first fix our Viewing Lens

The World through my Visuals

 

COMPUTER SKILLS

AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop, Google Sketch Up, Arc GIS, MS Word, Excel, Power Point, WordPress Website Design

 

VOLUNTEER

Photographic Documentation - Centre for Social Studies, Surat, Gujarat, India, (2001 – 2006)

Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) Policy Evaluation for Narmada Dam – Sardar Sarovar Project.
Photographic Documentation of Tribal Areas to study existing housing pattern to guide R&R policy implementation (formulated by World Bank & Government of India) to design new settlement for PAFs (Project Affected Families)

An Action Research Project – Critical study of Villages in North Gujarat experiencing frequent droughts and declining water resources with particular attention to its effect on the status of women. 

 

WRITE TO ME !

I would love to hear about your next Big Idea !

Please feel free to drop me a line here or Email me @ sonineha3@yahoo.com

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