Yan Zhang

Research Assistant
  • City Science

Yan Zhang (Ryan) is a Ph.D. candidate and research assistant in the City Science research group at MIT Media Lab. His research includes 1) SoCity DAOdecentralized incentive policies that promote pro-social, pro-sustainable urban life and urban development; 2) urban big data analytics using cutting-edge AI technologies such as deep learning and computer vision; 3) CityScopean urban decision support system augmented by AI, AR, and TUI (tangible user interface) that democratizes the urban decision-making process. CityScope features a dynamic LEGO city model that gives people real-time feedback on the city's multi-dimensional performance to help users understand and participate in urban design intuitively. Additionally, an AI assistant provides users with design recommendations that allow them to achieve their goals efficiently. 

Ryan has a background in architectural design with a particular emphasis on computational design for more than ten years. He holds a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. He worked as an architect for two world-leading design firms, Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and von Gerkan, Marg und Partner (GMP). His architecture practice includes parametric form-finding and all-phase-architectural design of Shanghai Oriental Sports Center. As an architect, he developed a strong sense of design and skills in concept sketching, 3D modeling, physical model fabrication, performance simulation, construction coordination, etc.

Ryan also worked as a research assistant for Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) on various interdisciplinary projects focusing on data visualization, optimization, complex geometry, machine learning, and more.