The Urban Observer

A platform for discussing practical solutions and ideas for urban issues across the globe.



Robert S. Ellis

Areas of Interest: urban planning & development, public transport, housing affordability, urban policy, megacities, urban agglomerations, walkability, cycling

Robert Ellis grew up in a suburban Connecticut community near New York City completely reliant on cars for transport. He marveled at the wonders of urban life from a young age, always excited to ride the train into the city and navigate the labyrinth of the subway and the cacophony and chaos of the streets. Living in a place where a car is not only optional but indeed burdensome was a true calling; he belonged in cities. He has experience in the private sector in the executive search and legal consulting fields, but his passion for urban planning, design and policy runs deep. He is known for noticing small things such as the typeface used on subway station signage, the stubborn pool of water at the street curb that can’t flow to the sewer because of the asphalt contours – essentially he may be obsessive in the pursuit of practical efficiency for urban systems and landscapes. He is currently working on a Masters of Public Policy and intends to work for cities to help them solve current and future problems.

Robert obtained his bachelors degree in International Studies and Germanic Studies from Indiana University. He speaks fluent German and Dutch and some Spanish. He is an avid traveller, having lived in Germany and Korea and has travelled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Brazil, Canada and Israel, with plans to visit and get to know many more places in the coming years. He currently lives in Germany where he is a masters student at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University or Erfurt.


Tristan E. Bennett
Staff Writer

Areas of Interest: urban planning & development, housing, cycling, public transport, sustainability, livability, urban policy, megacities, urban agglomerations

Tristan Bennett is a cosmopolitan polyglot and an avid bicyclist who believes in finding pragmatic solutions to the world’s urban issues without sacrificing quality or aesthetics. He was born in Tacoma, Washington to a Korean mother and U.S. Army Veteran father who exposed him to stories and experiences from places all over the world, each with their own history, identity, culture, and design. Having spent much of his youth in a suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana where all bow down to the venerable car kings and their parking lot empires, he has spent much time and energy advocating bicycles as not just toys, but rather as part of a lifestyle. He was first exposed to a big city and public transportation on a family visit to Seoul, South Korea in 2008. His interest grew and once again he was able to experience, appreciate, and critique the urban environment while studying in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012 and 2013.

Tristan obtained his bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Anthropology from Indiana University, having studied abroad in Amman, Jordan, and Istanbul, Turkey. While studying abroad in Turkey he witnessed public infrastructure in-the-making, as multiple public transport options were opened during his time there. Many more have opened since, and he hopes to experience them in the near future. Since graduation he has worked in Washington D.C. and New York City in think tanks and non-profits, and currently lives in South Korea. He speaks English, Turkish, French, Korean, and Pashto, and has traveled to many places in the world in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia.

%d bloggers like this: