Adam Tanaka


Adam Tanaka is a PhD candidate in urban planning with a particular focus on affordable housing and real estate development. His research interests lie at the confluence of urban history, political science and business studies. His writings on cities have been published by Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, Journal of Urban History (forthcoming), Slate, Van Alen, Gotham Center for New York City History, and Metropolitiques, among others.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, Adam is completing his dissertation on large-scale, middle-income housing in New York City. Offering a counterpoint to familiar narratives of post-war suburbanization and central city disinvestment, the dissertation analyzes a number of vast subsidized developments built for middle-income New Yorkers from the 1940s through 1970s. The dissertation investigates the political and financial alliances that facilitated these projects – with a particular focus on the role of private developers in the city's affordable housing industry – as well as the factors that abruptly terminated this “large-scale approach” in the mid-1970s.

Adam received a BA in art history and urban studies from Princeton University and an AM in Urban Planning from Harvard. He has held fellowships from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. In 2015-2016, he was a visiting scholar at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, and in 2017-2018, he was selected as a Harvard Horizons Scholar. Over the course of his doctoral studies, he has also worked for a variety of New York City agencies on affordable housing, public finance and land use-related matters.

Adam has also been closely involved in the development of the Harvard Summer School course, "Biology, Urbanism and Innovation," a partnership program between the City of Paris, Harvard, SciencesPo, and the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI). The course, now in its third year, mentors interdisciplinary, international student teams in the development of innovative solutions to urban problems in Paris, France.