Construction, Brasilia and Blankenship Drive Isaac Zaslow ’22 to Columbia – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Construction, Brasilia and Blankenship Drive Isaac Zaslow ’22 to Columbia

Days after receiving his B.A. in Architectural Studies, Isaac Zaslow ’22 began a master’s program in real estate development at Columbia University.

At HWS, the pre-professional Architectural Studies program is grounded in the liberal arts. This tradition has allowed generations of HWS Architectural Studies majors to embrace creativity and innovation, including Isaac Zaslow ’22.

This May, Zaslow started graduate studies at Columbia University, where he is pursuing a master’s in real estate development, a cross-disciplinary program focusing on the financial, social and physical tenets of urban real estate development. In the next months, Zaslow says he may add a second master’s degree in architecture to his studies.

“I have always loved construction, finance and architecture – so real estate development seemed like a logical career that combines all of those passions,” Zaslow says.

As part of an independent study advised by Associate Professor of Art and Architecture Jeffrey Blankenship, Zaslow completed a book-length thesis on the urban planning of Brasilia and architect Lucio Costa.

“Lucio Costa was a Brazilian modernist architect with no city planning experience, yet he was chosen to design Brasilia’s new capital city from scratch,” Zaslow says. “I have been researching the effects of Costa’s modernist plan for the city and how Brasilia’s population has adapted to the restrictive boundaries of his design.”

To conduct his research, Zaslow traveled to Brasilia and stayed with a host family, learning Portuguese in order to conduct interviews. The qualitative research gave him insight to the effects of the built environment on the lives and livelihoods of Brazilians in the city.

Blankenship praises Zaslow’s work. “It is one of the most impressive undergraduate research and writing projects I have supervised in my career. Isaac’s ambition exceeded my expectations, which bodes well for his future work at Columbia and beyond.”

Throughout the research and editing process, Zaslow says Blankenship was an effective mentor, helping him develop and refine his ideas. Zaslow had similar praise for Blankenship’s guidance in studio courses. 

“The two architectural studios I took at HWS were amazing and well-structured while still allowing me to exercise creative freedoms. Dr. Blankenship helped me revise my ideas from large and unrealistic projects to more focused and well-thought-out designs.”

At the Colleges, Zaslow minored in entrepreneurial studies and studied abroad in Bath, England where he held an internship with Donald Insall Associates, architecture firm. He also interned at Skanska, an international real estate development and construction firm. When he wasn’t writing or traveling, Zaslow says he could be found on Boswell Field playing for Hobart’s rugby team or serving and playing the piano for guests at Geneva on the Lake.