Center for Architecture Foundation Hosts Second Annual Guess-A-Sketch Benefit

On 05.21.13, the Center for Architecture Foundation held its annual Guess-A-Sketch drawing competition and benefit. This non-traditional cocktail party featured an architecture-themed, Pictionary-style game as its centerpiece. Continue reading “Center for Architecture Foundation Hosts Second Annual Guess-A-Sketch Benefit”

CFAF’s New Buildings New York Tour: Wythe Hotel

Even a winter rainstorm couldn’t dampen the spirits of 20 architecture enthusiasts who gathered on 02.19.13 for the New Buildings New York behind-the-scenes tour of the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, organized by the Center for Architecture Foundation. The tour began in the hotel’s main event space where Peter Lawrence, partner and general manager at the Wythe, architect Morris Adjmi, AIA, project architect Mohammad Rajab, and interior designers Stefanie Brechbuehler and Ryan Mahoney of Workstead spoke about the process of turning an abandoned factory into a 72-room boutique hotel. Continue reading “CFAF’s New Buildings New York Tour: Wythe Hotel”

Meet Joseph Tortorella, CFAF Board President

Incoming Center for Architecture Foundation Board President Joseph Tortorella shares his goals for his term, how he first got involved with CFAF, and why he is so passionate about CFAF’s mission.

How did you first get involved with the foundation?
I was first involved around 15 years ago at the outset of Learning by Design:NY [LBD:NY] as a “volunteer instructor.” A colleague in the industry had recommended me to the organization. I taught for three or four years at this level. Eventually, LBD:NY brought in paid professional staff to replace the volunteers. This move really catapulted the programs to a new level. Around eight years ago, I was asked to serve on the Board and have been involved ever since.
Continue reading “Meet Joseph Tortorella, CFAF Board President”

CFAF Goes Backstage at the Signature Theatre

Tour guides Geoff Lynch, AIA, LEED AP, Don Guyton, and James Houghton, explain the many challenges of designing a theater complex within a residential tower.

Center for Architecture Foundation

Group observing the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre and the set for Athol Fugard’s “The Train Driver.”

Center for Architecture Foundation

Tour leaders explain the decision to fade the wood from its natural color to draw the audience into the performance in the Irene Diamond Stage.

Center for Architecture Foundation

Attendees taking in the design of the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre.

Center for Architecture Foundation

Lively lobby atmosphere just before all Signature Theatre shows begin at 7:30pm.

Center for Architecture Foundation

Backstage in one of several rehearsal spaces.

Center for Architecture Foundation

On 9.18.12, Center for Architecture Foundation New Buildings New York tour participants were treated to an insider’s look at the Signature Theatre, the newest addition to New York City’s Theater District. Tour guides James Houghton, founding artistic director of the Signature Theatre, Geoff Lynch, AIA, LEED AP, a partner at H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, and Don Guyton, senior associate at Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, discussed the design, construction, and use of the multi-theater complex. The tour highlighted the ways the programming and mission of the company informed the design of the facility and theater system, and how each of the public places within the building are sites for the spontaneous interaction of artists, audiences, community members, and staff.

The Foundation’s next series of tours for the general public will focus on the Center for Architecture’s October exhibitions: “The Edgeless School” and “The Best School in the World” on 10.4.12 from 6:00 – 7:30pm. On 11.16.12 and 01.07.13, CFAF will reprise a tour of the tour, and include a look at “Building Connections 2012,” CFAF’s annual exhibition of K-12 student design work. For more information and to register, please visit

An Uplands Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Building 92

Shani Leibowitz welcomes guests at Building 92’s new lecture space.

Tim Hayduk

Guests walk through the colossal shipbuilding shed that will soon become Duggal Visual Solution’s production space. The butt-joint glazing perfectly frames the Williamsburg Bridge and neighborhood.

Tim Hayduk

What was once called Wallabout Bay has been fashioned into one of New York City’s most progressive and dynamic workplaces: the Brooklyn Navy Yard (BNY). Part of the New Buildings New York tour series, the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) had the opportunity to take guests on a behind-the-scenes tour, led by Shani Leibowitz, BNY’s vice president of development and planning, Elisabeth Leber, AIA, LEED AP, of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners, and Nancy Hudson, PE, of Robert Silman Associates.

CFAF’s tour began at Building 92, a new welcome center and museum housed in a late-19th-century building with an elegant glass and steel addition carefully grafted to the original. We were welcomed by Liebowitz, who provided an overview of BNY’s history and current mission. The audience learned about the fine balance between development and preservation, sustainable design, the support of minority- and woman-owned business, and other forward-thinking practices that BNY’s mission a model one would hope other manufacturing and industrial districts might adopt. Leiber explained how the structure of the new addition to Building 92 was prefabricated within the walls of the yard, along with exterior metal panels depicting a view of the BNY during its WW II heyday.

Following our introduction, we boarded a BNY bus to see other structures in various states of renovation. Former shipbuilding sheds provide today’s industries with the elbow room to think and work on large scale. Imaging giant Duggal Visual Solution is fully renovating one such shed into a cathedral-sized workplace. We were invited to walk the length of the enormous floor, and treated to an epic view of the Williamsburg Bridge through the structure’s north facing windows. Steiner Studios has also adapted a handsome, WWII-era building, and built several sound stages of various sizes for filming movies and commercials.

Admiral’s Row is comprised of a series of buildings in various states of collapse and ruin, taken over by a jungle of plants and trees. The bus driver drove down what was once a distinguished lane; with difficulty, one could make out the houses through the thick growth. Long neglected, the BNY is fully committed restoring two buildings, working with Robert Silman Associates as consulting engineers for this initiative. The naval hospital and staff housing are other 19th-century ruins that will one day be restored. All in all, we were able to experience a historical place poised magnificently between its past and future – where preservation is moving hand-in-hand with progress and experimentation, allowing the public to celebrate and benefit from our past in a new way.

A handful of participants opted to take a guided walk from the Jay Street-Metrotech subway station to the BNY prior to the tour. Walking from Downtown Brooklyn through Fort Green Park gave one a sense of how the City of Brooklyn developed before consolidation in 1898. We passed the Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument in Fort Greene Park, walked through Fort Green’s leafy residential streets, and learned about housing built for Navy Yard workers during WW II.

The sold-out tour raised $2,500 to help support the Foundation’s Programs@theCenter – interactive gallery tours and hands-on workshops designed to engage youth and families in contemporary topics about the built environment. The next tour in the New Buildings New York series will be at the Signature Theater on September 18th. Visit for more information or to purchase tickets.