Interest, Involvement, and Inclusion at Career Day

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Madiba Prep’s welcoming blew us away! We toasted sparkling cider to the students’ success.

Madiba Prep Middle School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, rolled out the red carpet for ESKW/A and many other professionals on Career Day, May 16. We got breakfast, lunch, certificates, gift bags, and student performances. We even earned prime real estate on the career fair floor right by the gymnasium door.

“I was overwhelmed by our welcome,” said Amanda Sengstacken, one of our architectural designers. “The school was so gracious and appreciative. I really found it very moving, because as flattering as all the attention they gave us was, their enthusiasm underlined how important it is to the school to present their students with a wide variety of options for their future.”

We only hope that our efforts made the students feel just as welcome to the world of architecture. While the industry is improving, architecture has long faced a diversity problem. People of color, women, and other groups outside the status quo are still underrepresented in the field, and it’s up to us the change that. The AIA formed a Diversity Council in 2011 and ratified Resolution 15:1, “Equity in Architecture,” at its 2015 convention, and locally, groups like the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NYCOBA|NOMA) and AIANY’s Women in Architecture (WIA) are continually working toward change.

So just as the school was grateful to have ESKW/A and other occupations share their work, goals, and career paths, we were grateful to be there to inspire the next generation of architects and to make this industry more inclusive. Since our inception in the 60s, that’s been part of our work. Our co-founder Judith Edelman was a pioneer in the field both as a woman and a designer of affordable housing. It would be great to have some of the kids consider architecture as a career, but even if we just piqued their interest in the built environment around them, we’ve done our job.

Principal Anne Marie Malcolm began the day by saying that when she came here from the islands, she thought she only had three paths to success: doctor, lawyer, or educator. And while she loves her job, she’s curious if she would have taken a different path had she known what was available to her. After today, the kids at Madiba Prep should know there are several paths they can take: architect, urban planner, firefighter, musician, fashion designer, and occupational or physical therapist, among others.

“I want the students to know that there is a plethora of options in store for their future,” added Kristina Crowell, guidance counselor at Madiba Prep. “I want them to know that they can be as creative, as ambitious, and as determined as they need to be in order to reach their goals. I appreciate you all for coming out and shedding some light on your passion and inspiring our youth in the process!”

At our table, students engaged with a floor plan, colored pencils, 3D model of the Rockaways Retail and Community Development, and finishes board from 233 Landing Road/Reaching New Heights Residence. We also connected over great conversations. Their initial questions were probably suggested by teachers: What made you choose to be an architect? Do you have to take a lot of school? And we admit ours were basic to get the discussion flowing: So, what do you want to be when you grow up? (Good luck to the youngster who wants to become a professional YouTuber!) How’d you become a hall ambassador? What’s your favorite building in New York? Do you like art, history, math and science?

“We did our best to make a convincing pitch for architecture,” said Sengstacken. “I also tried to convey how varied the options are even within that category.”

But as the kids became more involved and interested, so did their questions: How do you put little fake people into a rendering? Who decides how the drawing looks: you or someone else? How hard is it to work with a budget? We like to think those questions were the sparks of inspiration being ignited. Hopefully we didn’t extinguish any aspirations by saying a budget of $100 might only buy a new exit sign.

Thank you to the Madiba Prep faculty for hosting us, and to the kids for engaging and entertaining us.

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Spotlight on NSCC’s Public Art

By Kimberly Murphy

Construction at New Settlement Community Campus progresses steadily toward the planned opening in September. With so many of the special elements of the building nearly finished, it is hard to select one area to highlight; however, the Public Art installation is one of my personal favorites.

The Public Art commissioned by NYC DOE through Public Art for Public Schools from Artist W Scott Trimble is integrated into the architecture of the building both physically and metaphorically. The building houses two schools: a PS and IS/HS, each with separate entrances and Lobbies but with a shared entry plaza. This division and connection is illustrated by Trimble’s design. Brightly colored intertwining paths generated at the entry plaza lead into each lobby. The yellow and blue paths, signature colors for the IS/HS, lead into the IS/HS Lobby; and the red and green paths, signature colors for the PS, lead into the PS Lobby.

Artist drawings of the Entry plaza design and the paths into the IS/HS and PS Lobbies

The artist’s design celebrates the vibrant activity of the school lobby and entry by dynamically transforming two dimensional paths into three dimensional objects. The school as a community benefits from carefully planned co-mingling of the various populations at key locations such as the entry plaza.

Left: IS/HS Lobby. Right: PS Lobby

The interior paths are created with water-jet cut terrazzo tiles by Wausau Tiles.

Once inside, the paths (which are a metaphor for exploration and learning) twist and turn and will transform into three dimensional benches and will then disperse to lead toward the classroom spaces.

The exterior paths are created with Lithocrete colored paving. The photos show the process of the Lithocrete colored bands being laid out, poured, recycled glass aggregate being set, and the final sealer being applied.

Completed Installation of the entry plaza artwork

The work was commissioned by Public Art for Public Schools and will be part of the collection of the NYCDOE.

Many thanks to W. Scott Trimble, Todd Hawkins of PAPS