Helena H. Rong

Helena H. Rong is an urbanist and designer with interdisciplinary training. Her research lies in the intersection of digital technology, collective intelligence and architecture and urbanism. Prior to her studies at Columbia GSAPP, she has received her Master of Science in Urbanism (SMArchS) degree from MIT and Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University, where she graduated with the Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Silver Award (1st Place Thesis Award). Rong works as a Research Associate at the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab, where she leads the “Value of Design” research pillar, studying the impacts of architectural design features on commercial real estate asset pricing. Previously, Rong was a researcher at the MIT Senseable City Lab, where she has designed and built an AR engagement platform for an exhibition for Roboat, the first fleet of autonomous boats in Amsterdam, and led the development of a model for travel optimization to museums in Amsterdam using autonomous waterborne vehicles. Rong is the founder of CIVIS Design and Advisory LLC, a design and research practice based in Boston and Shanghai that engages in multi-scalar and interdisciplinary projects. Through working at design practices such as OMA Rotterdam Headquarters, SOM New York and Neri+Hu Design and Research Office in Shanghai in the past, Rong has gained professional experience in both architectural and urban design in an international context.

Research Interests

Built Environment
Place-Based Interventions
Urban Health
Urban Planning
Urban Policy


American Community Survey (ACS)
NYC Survey Data (e.g. Community Health Survey, Housing and Vacancy Survey)
NYC Administrative Data