Helena Rong

Instructor in Architecture

Helena Rong is an urbanist, researcher, and designer with interdisciplinary training. She is a Technology and Public Purpose (TAPP) Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and an Urban Planning PhD candidate at Columbia University. Her research lies in the intersection of digital technology, collective intelligence and urban planning and governance. Currently, she is investigating the potential of disruptive technologies such as blockchain to enable collective decision-making and engagement in urban governance and planning in the Web3 era. Rong 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 has led a number of research publications in peer-reviewed journals such as Buildings, European Transport Research Review and Landscape and Urban Planning among others. Her work has been featured on platforms such as ArchDaily, WallPaper magazine and Bustler, and exhibited internationally at Haus der Architektur Graz, Shenzhen Biennale 2019, solo exhibition in New York among others. Previously, Rong worked as a Research Associate at the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab, where she led the “Value of Design” research pillar that studies the impacts of architectural design on commercial real estate asset pricing; and at the MIT Senseable City Lab, where she 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 architectural and urban projects.