AIANY Inaugural Celebrates 150 Years; Plans for Future

Event: AIANY 2008 Inaugural
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.04.07
Champion: Studio Daniel Libeskind
Supporters: Gensler; HumanScale; James McCullar & Associates
Friends: Forest City Ratner Companies; Hugo S. Subotovsky Architects; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Trespa North America; Universal Contracting
Contributors: Anchin, Block & Anchin; Cosentini Associates; FXFowle Architects; Levien & Company; Mancini Duffy; Michael Zenreich, AIA; New York Building Congress; Perkins Eastman; Plaza Construction; Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Shen Milsom & Wilke; Skanska USA Building; Strategic Development & Construction; Swanke Hayden Connell Architects; Thornton-Tomasetti; Weildlinger Associates

As she passed the presidential gavel to 2008 AIANY President James McCullar, FAIA, at the AIANY 2008 Innaugural, 2007 AIANY President Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP outlined the many accomplishments that she was “most proud of having been a part of ” with the Chapter and the Center for Architecture. These included continuing to take strong advocacy positions on many topics, such as Columbia’s expansion plans, Moynihan Station, Governors Island, and Coney Island, among others.

In keeping with Blumenfeld’s theme for the year, “Architecture Inside/Out,” she reported that a presentation to the NYC Commissioners and Project Managers about launching an Interior Design Excellence program for city projects has made headway — some antiquated standards have already been revised.

On a bright note, she pointed out that AIANY Chapter membership has grown to over 4,000 and new benefits and initiatives were added during the year. On a sad note, Blumenfeld mourned the passing of “a number of good friends” in 2007: Giorgio Cavaglieri, FAIA; Greg Clement, FAIA; Margaret Helfand, FAIA; Denis Kuhn, FAIA; David Mandl, AIA; and Martin Raab, FAIA.

The Chapter’s AIA150 Champion Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, then reported on the highly successful Sesquicentennial celebrations. He highlighted the New Housing New York Legacy Project and the Public Information Exchange (PIE) installation, and noted that the AIA New York State Convention’s first foray to NYC was a great success. “We hope that the momentum continues; particularly our commitment to improve our City and profession,” he said. With that, he urged members to support a package of Chapter-sponsored zoning changes now going through the ULURP process.

Incoming President James McCullar, FAIA, introduced his theme for 2008: “Architecture: Designs for Living.” He explained it as a “response to Mayor Bloomberg’s initiatives for PlaNYC 2030, which requires new sustainable typologies from infrastructure to housing… We are part of an emerging global community — from our PlaNYC neighborhoods to the Northeast Mega-region and urban centers around the world. Our theme supports building relationships for a sustainable global future.”

The evening’s keynote speaker, 2008 AIA National President Marshall Purnell, FAIA, design principal at Washington, DC-based Devrouax+Purnell Architects and Planners, applauded the Chapter’s leadership role in the AIA’s 150th anniversary celebrations: “AIANY truly honored the profession’s past…. The Center for Architecture is a mirror of what the future of the profession could and should look like — a future where design professionals, elected leaders, and the public chart a better future for everyone through the power of design.” Purnell stressed building bridges both within the AIA and as part of an aggressive commitment to public outreach: “We must pursue it not simply as a moral, but a professional imperative.”

The Inaugural followed a moving celebration of the life and work of 2001 Chapter President Margaret Helfand, FAIA, at which it was announced that a generous gift in her honor by her client David Whitcomb and husband Jon Turner would lead to a re-naming of one of the galleries at the Center for Architecture. More about the memorial and memorial matching fund will follow in an upcoming issue of e-Oculus.