PS32K Construction Update

We just returned from our bi-weekly site visit to PS32K in Brooklyn. The school’s renovation and addition is coming along nicely!

Below, the construction team takes advantage of the cantilever for some protection from the sun on this hot day.

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Here, a storefront is installed at the new cafeteria, which will have sweeping views of the playground on three sides.

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Although the building is a very active construction site, the concept of wayfinding through portals of color is already taking shape: yellow to the main stair on the right, coral to the cafeteria straight ahead, and teal to the library on the left.

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The main stair is accented with yellow thresholds on each floor making circulation through the school very clear and bright!

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Classroom corridors terminate in full wall of glass block and clear glazing washing each corridor in daylight.

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Stay tuned for more progress!

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Gala Extravaganza 2019

The Bridge (3)

ESKW/Architects’ Randy Wood, Michael Ong, and Sunčica Jašarović at The Bridge’s Partners in Caring Awards Gala.

ESKW/Architects was pleased to attend several benefits the first week of June 2019, in support of the nonprofit organizations we’ve worked with for many years.

BRC

On June 3, the Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC) held its annual The Way Home Gala to raise funding for its over 30 programs that help clients achieve their goals of managing mental illness, overcoming addiction, obtaining employment, and finding a place to call home. Over the last year, BRC has served 8,656 people, fielded 12,511 calls on its Homeless Helpline, and seen 5,386 clients successfully complete a program. We’re proud that Reaching New Heights Residence and The Apartments at Landing Road is a place they’re proud to call home.

The event honored Linda Gibbs, Partner at Bloomberg Associates and former NYC Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, where she spearheaded major initiatives on poverty alleviation, juvenile justice reform, and obesity reduction. During her tenure from 2005-2013, NYC was the only top-20 city in the U.S. whose poverty rate did not increase while the national average rose 28%. Before that, she served as Commissioner of NYC Department of Homeless Services.

The benefit raised over $1 million and featured a performance from Broadway star Desi Oakley.

The Bridge

The following day on June 4, The Bridge celebrated its 65th anniversary at the Partners in Caring Awards Gala, where they honored Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; Jonathan D. Resnick, a developer of affordable and supportive housing; and Dynamic Air Conditioning Company as a corporate partner.

The night’s program included a video package about clients and partners, as well as a speech from client Charles De San Pedro, Jr., who is now pursuing social service work after his own struggles living on the street. “Homelessness has really taught me to appreciate what I have,” he said.

The powerful story was a highlight of the night and nearly tear-inducing, said one of our team members who attended. “Those stories are always a great reminder of why we’re doing this work,” Sunčica Jašarović added. Last winter, ESKW/A celebrated the ribbon-cutting of East New York Avenue with The Bridge, and currently 3500 Park Avenue is under construction.

Project Renewal

Also on June 4, Project Renewal held its 2019 Benefit + Auction, which honored Jonathan F.P. Rose of Jonathan Rose Companies, a mission-focused real estate development, planning, and investment firm.

Table centerpieces featured lively plants reminiscent of green roofs in a nod to the development of Bedford Green House, which topped out earlier this year in March.

“Bedford Green House’s design was inspired by the idea of biophilia, that there’s an innate emotional affiliation between human beings and other living organisms,” Rose said. “Deeply integrating housing and nature, in the project’s front yard there will be a colorful community with jungle gyms, musical instruments, and water fountains, all of which will be accessible to both families that live there and the community. In the rear yard, there will be a beautiful landscaped area with space for yoga and exercise classes. And the pièce de résistance of this project, and the real vision of Project Renewal, is a rooftop greenhouse, which will be filled with nutritious produce, an innovative vertical farming system, and it will also raise fish, providing a whole symbiotic ecosystem.”

The event celebrated Project Renewal’s several workforce development programs, including the Next Step Internship and Culinary Arts Training programs. Diana Perez, a graduate of Next Step, told her story of overcoming addiction and homelessness to pursue a career as the director of a future Project Renewal program.

“When I went into rehab, I met a lot of good people that helped me stay on the right track, and I want to be that for other people,” she said. “I have big dreams of how I’d want to run something. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for the Next Step program, because this is where I feel like I’m actually doing something that I love and I’m dedicated to. It’s honestly unbelievable that I’m here; three years ago, I would’ve never thought it was possible.”

Over 800 people attended the benefit, which raised over $1.6 million.

Settlement Housing Fund

Closing out the week on June 6 was SHF’s 2019 Annual Benefit commemorating its 50th anniversary with the theme: “Building Housing. Providing Opportunities. Improving Lives. Since 1969.” The event honored Alicia Glen, former Deputy Mayor of Housing and Economic Development for NYC; Anthony Richardson, Executive Vice President for Development of NYC Housing Development Corporation; and Charles S. Warren, Partner of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP.

We are proud to be part of their vast development portfolio dating back to the 1980s. “It is beautiful that SHF is celebrating 50 years of service to New York. We’re proud to have worked with them for close to 40 of those,” said Kimberly Murphy, Partner. “A professional highlight for me definitely includes working with them on New Settlement Community Campus. We’re constantly impressed with their innovation in development and dedication to the end goal.”

Fundraising events are not only important for the organizations’ missions, but they are a wonderful opportunity to connect with our development community and celebrate the great work that our clients provide to our fellow New Yorkers. We’re proud to continue this work into next year and beyond.

Record-Setting Night for the Chinatown Health Clinic Foundation

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The Healthview project was featured prominently throughout the evening.

Thursday, May 9 marked the Chinatown Health Clinic Foundation (CHCF)’s 48th Annual Gala, and the event raised a record-setting amount of funds in support of the foundation’s mission to provide community-based healthcare services to underserved Asian Americans and other vulnerable populations. The gala honored Peggy Sheng, COO of the Coalition of Asian-American Independent Practice Association, and Yvonne Ghaw, a philanthropist and member of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) Board of Directors.

ESKW/Architects helped sponsor the gala and are currently working with the CBWCHC on Healthview in Flushing, our fifth commission undertaken for the organization. We’re honored to continue our relationship with the CBWCHC, which began nearly 40 years ago when Harold and Judy Edelman first worked with the group to develop their initial clinics.

Several of our staff attended, and we were extremely proud to see the in-development Healthview project displayed in the program and slideshow. We were also delighted by the swag bag (which included ramen and fortune cookies!) and the always-impressive menu that featured spring rolls, dumplings, ribs, chicken, and lobster—as well as black mushrooms, lotus roots, and baby bok choy. 

This year was the first time the event used the “Text-to-Donate” feature, which raised over $25,000 on its own. The auction also raised a staggering amount as attendees bid on everything from jewelry to golf outings, spa visits, resort stays, and suite experiences at sporting events.

Early in the evening, the Master of Ceremonies greeted everyone with a joke: “This event always reminds me of my kids at the dinner table, because you don’t really listen and you’re only here for the food. However, unlike James Bond’s martini, I am unshaken and unstirred.” 

But to the contrary, we were honored to attend and to further our support of the Chinatown Health Clinic Foundation and Charles B. Wang Community Health Center—and we’re sure that the 900+ in attendance were too. Congratulations to the night’s honorees, and thank you to the CHCF and CBWCHC for a meaningful, inspiring, and amusing night!

Honor and Hope at the HSU Gala

This year’s Homeless Services United (HSU) Gala marked a record fundraising effort for HSU, and our very own Andrew Knox was among the event’s honorees. The April 18 event was held in Manhattan’s Prince George Ballroom, and its theme of “Elevating Voices, Driving Our Vision” echoed throughout the speeches of the three honorees.

IMG_1631As a result of the city’s Turning the Tide Against Homelessness plan, evictions are down 37% since 2013 and over 100,000 people have been able to overcome their housing crises and obtain or retain permanent housing, Trapani said. Since Commissioner Steven Banks took over the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) in 2014, roughly 40 new shelters have been set up, with 180 haphazard, sub-standard sites shutting down.

Events like the HSU Gala ensure that nonprofits can continue their work of providing a continuum of services, quality programming, and coordinated care to those affected by the homelessness crisis.

Accepting the Sr. Barbara Lenniger Legacy Award, founding HSU Board Member Colleen Jackson said the night’s theme of “Elevating Voices” was why organizations like HSU exist. “We’ve tried to give people and organizations large and small a voice to demand an end to destructive and cruel city policies,” she said, noting her work as the former Executive Director and CEO of West End Residences, with whom we’ve worked on two True Colors Residence projects.

 

Jody Rudin, COO of Project Renewal, introduced Andrew, explaining a bit about his first career choice. “Andrew was once an aspiring actor, but he said his character was usually shot by the second act—thankfully for us,” she said. “Because he’s gone on to have a string of blockbuster successes as an architect. Thank you for spending your second act with us.

“This isn’t a little gold man, but it is our version of the Oscars,” Rudin added, bringing Andrew to the stage where images of his ESKW/Architects work were projected above.

In his speech, Andrew illustrated architecture’s role in addressing the homelessness crisis. “I take great pleasure in working with clients to learn what makes an optimal layout of a dorm room, so that there are always two paths to the bathroom and two paths to the front door so residents living there never feel trapped. I take great pleasure in being told by a resident during a walkthrough how happy they are to have a washer and dryer in their dorm so they can step away for a minute and not be worried that their favorite jeans are going to disappear. I take great interest to learn from a resident that the bang of the entrance door every 30 minutes during nightly check-ins triggers their memories of being at Rikers, and so the next time, we’re going to ask our clients to go that extra mile and put in door closers that go click rather than spring hinges that go slam.”

 

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He also brought up a memory from school that has continually inspired his work. “Never underestimate the impact of a teacher. As an undergraduate student at Penn, I used to give my landscape architect professor grief for using examples of her work from private estates. At one point, she sort of burst out at me in anger, or I guess irritation, I should say. ‘The trouble with bright students like you is that you talk this progressive talk in school, and then when you graduate, you move to Texas and build McMansions for millionaires.’ That sunk in, and 30 years ago when I came to this city, I decided to try to honor that challenge.”

Andrew’s speech was a tough act to follow, but the evening’s third honoree, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., naturally did an excellent job. “It sounds like you’ve been practicing that Academy Award speech, Andrew,” he joked.

 

“Tonight has an important theme of elevating voices, but we also need to open our hearts,” he continued. “You can’t go to church and say you’re your brother’s keeper and then go to a community board and say you don’t want shelters or affordable housing in your neighborhood. I want to still offer this city’s hope and opportunity to everyone.”

The night’s truly awe-inspiring speeches (excepting the unofficial roasts of Andrew) will continue to inform and motivate our work. Thanks again to HSU for allowing us to be a part of it all.

 

MHANY and Friends Celebrate 1921 Cortelyou Road

By Kimberly Murphy, AIA, Partner

This week, ESKW/Architects was honored to attend long-time client MHANY Management’s annual benefit in support of their mission of developing affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New York families. This year, MHANY’s event celebrated the innovative development partnership at 1921 Cortelyou Road. In addition to the wonderful company, there was great music, bowling, and plenty of tasty food.

While speaking to the collected group, Executive Director Ismene Speliotis explained that while every development has its own interesting story, 1921 Cortelyou Road’s is especially remarkable. She invited some of the key players to share a bit of our own stories related to the project. The mini speeches were beautiful, and they inspired us as the architects to share a bit more here.

ESKW/A’s introduction to the Baptist Church of the Redeemer at 1921 Cortelyou Road was through a limited design competition in 2008. Our scheme was selected as the winning design (see below right), and our team was poised to bring a new church combined with affordable and supportive housing into reality. At the event this week, Reverend Sharon Williams shared her perspective from 2008: “A vision without action is an illusion.” Unfortunately, the development team at the time was unable to take solid action so the project paused.

So let’s back up. The phenomenon at work is this: Many churches around the city, and specifically Brooklyn (the “borough of churches”), own properties that need significant repair and maintenance. As congregations age, care of the facilities becomes challenging. With the real estate market being as competitive as it is in NYC, developers look for creative opportunities to purchase or partner with individuals or organizations such as churches that can benefit from a development team’s expertise. The concern in this scenario is to protect the church organization from predatory development. Enter non-profit organizations such as LISC NYC who assist in pairing developers, property owners, and attorneys who help protect the interests of the churches.

In the case of 1921 Cortelyou Road, the Baptist Church of the Redeemer needed a match. After making a connection with the Church through the success of the design competition, ESKW/A Partner Andrew Knox went to work to help find that match. He found it in Ismene and MHANY Management along with Brooklyn Community Services and Turning Point Brooklyn. The shared goals and personal chemistry among the groups and the Reverend was exactly what was needed to jump-start the project.

To say “the rest is history” is a bit simplistic for any development, but overly true for this project. MHANY and their team along with ESKW/A set out to do something special in the mixed use of residential and church uses. The intention was always for a successful partnership between the two and that each could support the other. The Church has a long history of community support and inter-faith advocacy, and they run a weekly soup kitchen program. When the Reverend learned more about the missions of Turning Point and Brooklyn Community Services and that theirs is the only NYC program dedicated to housing homeless young women between the ages of 18-24, she wanted to support even further. Out of her portion of the development funds, she decided to dedicate church space for Turning Point Brooklyn’s “We Care About You” Shower Program for the homeless. March is also Women’s History Month and this project was unusual for typical development in that a majority of the team members and leaders are women. Rev. Williams gathered them all for a photo at the groundbreaking.

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The project story is also one of preservation and history. The existing 1920s neo-Romanesque church building had been unused for many years. Its handsome exterior was past the point of repair; however, many interior elements were intact and could be salvaged for reuse.

The architectural team identified items, reviewed the proposal with the church, and documented pieces for careful salvage by Mega Contracting Group, the general contractor, and their demolition team. Pews were photographed, measured, and cataloged. Stained glass panels were documented, and designs prepared for new interior display. Hymn boards and other easily movable items were prepared for secure storage and reuse. To everyone’s great lamentation, it was not feasible to save everything; the brass pipe organ and 24-inch diameter, 30-foot tall granite columns couldn’t be salvaged.

The design process for the Baptist Church was immersive, pun intended. Architects attended Rev. Williams’ service and spent time learning about their full-immersion baptism ceremony, which is central to their doctrine. Understanding the procession of the service, and the needs for changing rooms and accommodations for all ages who come to be baptized, the architects sculpted the sanctuary accordingly. Sky lights and curved ceiling planes make the new sanctuary welcoming, calm, and modern, allowing the service to be the feature. Physical and virtual models were studied to ensure that daylight washed the sanctuary as intended.

The approximately 15,000 square feet of church space is separate from the housing with only utility service spaces being shared. The 76 housing units are an integrated mix of senior housing, affordable housing, and supportive housing with common spaces for programs and resident use including a community room, an activity room, laundry, and two rooftop terraces. The units are studio, one-, and two-bedroom units each with solid wood floors, solid wood kitchen millwork, and large windows.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 30, 2018, and currently the project is under construction. The existing church has been demolished, the site has been excavated, and new foundations are in place. Early this spring, first floor planks will be set, and soon the corner of Ocean Avenue and Cortelyou Road will come to life as the nine-story building takes shape. And you can bet on the ribbon-cutting ceremony being one that shouldn’t be missed!

We’re excited to share more of the background and progress of this remarkable project, so stay tuned. Congratulations to MHANY Management for bringing us all together and making sure that this beautiful vision didn’t become an illusion.

ESKW/Architects Names Kerry Zucker an Associate

IMG_9258-revised-2_AMANDARS - kerryESKW/Architects is proud to announce that Kerry Zucker has been named Associate in the firm.  We are honored by Kerry’s dedication to our clients, our projects, and the culture of our office, which wouldn’t exist without her.

Kerry Zucker began her career with ESKW/A in 2006 and has worked on many educational and housing projects throughout the five boroughs. In 2008 she joined the team for the New Settlement Community Campus with a focus on the pool and the cafeteria. She was the project manager for the new construction of 46 supportive housing units at 535 East 11th Street for LESPMH, while also managing the adaptive reuse of a warehouse as office space for advertising agency Mother Industries.

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She further engaged in the education world while managing the renovation of two Catholic Schools for new use by Brilla College Preparatory Charter School. Kerry returned to housing as project manager for the new construction of award-winning Walton Avenue for Settlement Housing Fund and the currently under construction 3500 Park Avenue for The Bridge. Currently, Kerry is the project architect for the renovation and new addition of PS32K in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, for the NYC School Construction Authority.

In addition to her leadership on projects, Kerry manages ESKW/Architect’s Working Groups: our in-office professional enrichment program. As leader of the ADA group, she leads the team in staying abreast of latest requirements and safe havens. She may not admit it, but she’s also a bit of a foodie and has come up with suggestions for office gathering and dinner locations. When she’s not working up the office’s appetite, you might find her practicing yoga or running the NYC marathon. ESKW/A is pleased to recognize Kerry for her significant contributions to the office.

ESKW/Architects Names Fialka Semenuik an Associate

IMG_8931_editESKW/Architects is proud to announce that Fialka Semenuik has been named Associate in the firm. We are honored by Fialka’s dedication to our clients, our projects, and the culture of our office, which wouldn’t exist without her.

The year was 2000 and the (formerly known as) Edelman Partnership / Architects was located at 434 Sixth Avenue in the Village. We were an office of three partners (Judy, Randy, and Andrew), one office manager (Whitney), and one staff member (Kimberly). Enter Fialka Semenuik! She was our missing piece. The renovation of the Chinatown Health Clinic’s Charles B. Wang Community Health Center was under construction, and Fialka picked it up and saw it through to completion.

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Her keen eye for detailing and commitment to design has made her an asset to the firm in the years since. As project architect for the Co-Ops in Hamilton Heights, Helen Harris Seniors Housing, and Bishop Joseph Sullivan, Fialka became fluent in housing renovation and new construction. For Hour Apartment House III, Fialka took the office’s commitment to masonry detailing one step further and provided the 18 families supported by Hour Children Inc. with a home to be proud of. She pushed masonry detail artistry even further on Myrtle Avenue through the use of concrete brick. Myrtle Avenue for the Institute for Community Living is a new building that provides homes for young people aging out of foster care. She was a lead team member of the New York Aquarium’s Ocean Wonders: Sharks! and more recently 3500 Park Avenue.  Fialka is currently leading the team (in a full-circle move) on the new construction of the Chinatown Health Clinic’s latest development: Healthview.

Fialka’s contributions are more than the work, however. She started our office’s composting program before it was cool to compost food in the office setting, and she leads us in office yoga as often as we can convince her. She was also the first to introduce a kale salad (gasp!) at our office’s Thanksgiving potluck gathering. We are proud to recognize Fialka as a leader in the firm.