Happy Earth Day!

Slash A Earth Day

This Earth Day, we’re taking a moment to look back at one of our favorite eco-friendly projects, the Eco Restroom at the Bronx Zoo for the Wildlife Conservation Society. This was a very fun project, and the restrooms far exceeded their initial goal of providing an eco-friendly comfort station to actually become an exhibit and learning opportunity.

The weather is looking great this weekend – it’s a great time to go check out the Bronx Zoo, and learn a bit about sustainable water use while you’re there.

Photos by David Sundberg for Esto Photography

Architects in Action

One of the many joys of architecting is getting into the field. Here are a few of our favorite Architects-In-Action shots …

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, and the UN’s theme for 2016 is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.”

At ESKW/A, we are 12 women and 8 men.The strength of women in this practice traces back to the firm’s inception in 1960, when Judith Edelman was one of 3 founding partners. Her ‘firebrand’ legacy (see NYTimes article here) as a pioneer for her gender in this field has influenced ESKW/A in all of its iterations since. Click here to read an interview with Judy for this blog in 2012.

The upcoming Women’s Day along with the recent publication of the (rather disheartening) 2016 Women in Architecture Survey generated a fair amount of discussion among us. Below, we share some of our team’s reflections on the topic of gender in our field.


Do you think that men and women have different experiences in the workplace/field?

“It has happened that I’ve had to correct people that I’m not on the job to only pick colors; that I’ve detailed the project, coordinated the MEP and Structure, and am eagle-eye watching the waterproofing.”  Kimberly

hardhat“My field experience has been great. Only once was there a cat-call from a construction worker as I approached the site. I just smiled and put on my hard hat so that he understood my role and there were no cat-calls thereafter.”  Fialka

“I think there are still differences but they are thankfully becoming fewer. It is, however, still pretty standard to be the only female in meetings.”  Andrea

driven“Yes many differences. I think the field is still driven in the bigger picture by men. BUT women when practicing the practicalities of the profession are much more detail-oriented and organized than men.”  Francisco

“I think that clients, consultants, and contractors recognize that women should be respected in the workplace but they’re a little bit unsure of how to walk the line between camaraderie and professionalism when they’re faced with women of authority. I feel like I can see them being more careful of this line than if they are speaking to a male architect.”  Marcella

worthy“Absolutely. In the field, or in interactions with people in related trades, I feel that females start the relationship with a deficit. I think that we have to work harder to prove ourselves worthy.”  Amanda

“In my experience (limited to this firm) males and females are treated with exceptional quality with no division between the two. Everyone here is treated with mutual respect.”   Justin

Was there a female role model who particularly influenced your education or career?

“I have seen [my mother] do everything as the head of a house. No limits, no regrets from her; that is why I consider myself well-educated by a woman. I’ve learned not to see any difference between what males and females can do in their profession, both are capable. Especially with my female professors, my coworkers and supervisors today–all have something to share and learn from.”

conseq“I’ve been inspired by a handful of female architects but I think the most influential female figure is Marta Gutman, my architectural history professor in grad school. She would always stress the social context of the time and how design played a role in it. For me, she made it clear that as architects and designers we do have a choice in the type of work we take part in and should acknowledge its consequences, both good and bad. Looking back I’m pretty sure she planted the seed that led me to want to work at a firm like ours.”  Mike

“I’ve been continuously inspired by some of our outstanding female clients who are doing amazing work and have been for decades. Specifically Sister Tesa Fitzgerald of Hour Children, Inc. and Carol Lamberg of Settlement Housing Fund. They are geniuses in their fields and build consensus in their teams with grace and respect that I’m very inspired by.”  Kimberly

“All but one or two of my studio professors have been women in addition to other courses so I have many stories to choose from.  From Laura Kurgan’s housing studio at GSAPP I learned methods to extract design intelligence from geographical and statistical sources.  Yoshiko Sato, in her space studio, had us designing space in low earth orbit, a completely different physical reality. Dana Buntrock’s construction materials and methods course at Berkeley CED is an institution unto itself and one of the most valuable courses I took.  Janet Delaney’s photography course at Berkeley was formative both for understanding light and composition and the process of creating art.”  Michael

mom“In the cheesiest answer possible, my mom influenced my education and career. She was the only child out of a family of six children to go to college. She worked extremely hard to make it to the US and took a huge risk in leaving Hong Kong to try a start a better life for herself here. Growing up, she’s always taught me that there are no limitations to what I want to achieve. It’s hard to explain how significant that is, but it made a huge difference in how I responded to and embraced my education and career.”  Marcella

“Yes, Andrea Swartz was the second studio professor I had in architecture school. I visited NYC with her and a peer as she gave the two of us a personal and swift highlight of the city’s architecture. I remember distinctly her critiques and strong encouragement that helped push me through her studio and onward. She inspired the architect within me and her words have stuck with me as I continue the internship here in NY.”  Justin

What would be your advice for young women seeking to enter this field?

voices“COME!! Join the forces! We need more females and minorities. Our voices and contributions are critical and make our work more relevant. Overall, I would strongly encourage them to go for it. I would also give them an honest disclaimer that you have to really love it for it to be worth it.”  Annie 

“My general attitude is that if your intuition tells you to do it, then do it. The biggest obstacle is going to be yourself. I feel like this is probably applicable to most young women as women can be more self-critical than men. This is a very big obstacle to overcome.”  Marcella

society“The profession benefits from diversity. Young women should not be deterred from entering this field. Society is changing and we should be taking advantage of the new opportunities.”  Andrea

“You can do it all! We all have strengths and weaknesses that will only reveal themselves after years of practice, but you CAN be a renaissance architect and learn it all.”  Kimberly

“If you’re passionate about Architecture then go for it … however, if top financial compensation is your priority, beware. Of all the professions, ours is among the least compensated given hours put in and education.”  Fialka

“I’d like to believe that male or female, as long as you are respectful, capable, and confident you’ll be able to succeed–idealistic, I know.”    Mike

Percent-chart

Art & Architecture

Since we completed their interior fit-out in 2012, we’ve jumped at every opportunity to visit the Bronx Community Charter School and see the kids and teachers in action in their new space. Kimberly and Marcella stopped by BxC today and as always, they were blown away.

The 6th grade class recently finished a project studying the human body and site-specific art. They scoped out sites in their school and created sculptures out of clear packing tape. They studied the position of the body, the way limbs fall, and then one person in each 3-person team became the model. The resulting sculptures are hanging out on a bench, the ductwork, and flying under the central skylight.

We love their artwork (which reminds us of this series of floating and glowing human figures by Cédric Le Borgne installed internationally between 2006 and 2011).

Check out the kids’ talent!

 

From the Field – Support of Excavations

Kimberly Murphy

As 2016 will be a year of heavy construction administration, we’ve taken the opportunity to learn from each other and share our experiences in a bi-weekly office forum. One recent topic that has emerged from a change in the DOB application approval process is Support Of Excavations (SOE).

battleSOE’s are a Department of Buildings application filed to describe the design, means, and methods for excavating the site in preparation for the new construction. In our experience prior to last year’s filings, the SOE had not been a requirement prior to approval of the New Building (NB) application, leaving this application in the hands of the General Contractor as part of the requirements in pulling the Construction Permit. Now that the DOB is requiring the SOE to be submitted along with the NB prior to approval, the architects have become involved in this process and the SOE design, which is prepared by a geotechnical or other structural consultant to the Architect or Owner, and becomes part of the Contract Documents. Essentially the SOE design becomes another trade consultant to coordinate whose design has impact on cost and schedule. Including the consultant earlier than later in the design process and coordinating with the Structural Engineer has been key. It’s critical that we understand the impact of the proposed SOE design, the proposed impact SOE ESKWon the adjacent properties, and the resultant costs.

The cost associated with the SOE work is significant, and as with any trade, there are several ways to skin the cat. The SOE design that goes out to Bid, could be subject to value engineering and is a way that submitting Bidders can propose to cut costs. This could mean revising the consultants’ design or even replacing the SOE application and superseding the design professional.

Even once the SOE and the NB are approved and the GC has permits in hand, there is no guarantee that things will sail smoothly. Due to unforeseen below-grade conditions, the SOE design is likely to change—possibly many times. As with all approved DOB applications, the SOE then needs to be amended to reflect the updated design.

We all know that getting out of the ground is more than half the construction battle, so being more familiar with the SOE process has become something worth talking about. Our internal office discussions have been crucial for furthering our knowledge.  Any thoughts or experience with SOE? Feel free to comment or contact us!

Happy digging!

Our Holiday Party

As the weather is finally catching up to the season this week, we’re looking back fondly at what was a relatively balmy holiday celebration here in NYC.

Our office took some time out to share a meal together at Pepolino Restaurant, where we enjoyed a hard-earned break and engaged in some cut-throat holiday gift trading.

The good food, drink, and laughs revived us in time to hit the ground running in 2016, for what promises to be another busy year, with plenty of laughs to temper our hard work.

Many thanks to Marcella and Francisco for the photography work.

Highlights of 2015

It’s been a busy year for us at Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects! We broke ground on several projects, renovated our office, received some awards, completed a few projects, and gained two new team members.

In short, it seems like an appropriate time for a highlight reel of 2015.

Hour Apartment House III Won a Silver Brick In Architecture Award

ESKW/A’s second project for Hour Children, Hour Apartment House III, was completed in 2014 and was well-received by the Brick Industry Association this year. It was gratifying for the project team, headed up by Fialka, to see their attention to brick detailing garner this recognition.

4380 Bronx Boulevard also received a Boston Society of Architects Award and a Silver Medal of Honor from the Society of American Registered Architects, while New Settlement Community Campus collected an Excellence Award from the Center for Active Design.

True Colors Bronx Opened Its Doors

With much celebration, especially from True Colors’ exuberant patron Cyndi Lauper, our second project for West End Residences was completed in September. The 7-story supportive housing building offers 30 efficiency apartments to formerly homeless LGBT youths. Read more here.

ESKW/A Took a Field Trip to the Aquarium

Following the topping out ceremony earlier this year, ESKW/A toured the WCS’s Ocean Wonders: Sharks! at the NY Aquarium construction site and enjoyed one of the last summer days by the ocean in Coney Island. Project team Cary, Carlos, Martin, Michael, and Fialka gave a detailed behind the scenes look at the project. ESKW/A are Architects of Record for the new Sharks! exhibition building, which is anticipated to open in 2017.

1066-1070 Myrtle Avenue, 1561 Walton Avenue, and 233 Landing Road Broke Ground

Much of our staff was also busy this past fall celebrating exciting developments in several other large projects, as these three new buildings kicked into the construction phase. Be sure to check back on the blog and our website this year as we continue to post progress photos.

We Revamped Our Office, and Welcomed Carlos and Andrea

After more than 10 years in our space at 100 Lafayette, and with a growing number of employees to seat, the ESKW/A offices recently underwent a transformation.

We opened up the space by removing the low partitions dividing our stations, and installed a continuous work surface.  The new U-shaped desktops with shared side tables allow for easier collaboration — not to mention increased elbow and breathing room.

Partners Randy Wood and Andrew Knox have always preferred spacial equality in the workplace and an open office design to foster sharing of information.  Our open plan has proven itself over the past decade as a bright and airy use of our high-ceilinged corner suite, maximizing the natural light from our windows looking out on Chinatown and NYC.

ESKW/A also grew by 2 persons this year. We were happy to welcome Carlos and Andrea to the team! Carlos is working on Ocean Wonders: Sharks!, and Andrea is managing our Site 7 project for Clinton Housing Development Company and is part of the team working a new school addition for the NYCSCA.