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

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.

It’s Giving Season!

One of our seasonal traditions here at ESKW/A is the annual holiday gift donation drive. Headed up by illustrious office manager Lauretta daCruz, we collected donations from the office, shopped for gifts, wrapped ’em up, and hand delivered to students at Explore Charter School in Brooklyn. A school social worker and high school placement coordinator identified families who could use some additional cheer this holiday season. The guardians were contacted, and the kids provide a wish list. Each child received special gifts selected just for them off of their list.

We had a lovely haul this year, and we’re grateful to everyone who participated. Happy Holidays to all!

 

Halloween 2015

Slasher-A-ESKWA  Happy Halloween from ESKW/A!

ESKW Fridge Fright

 

We’re really getting into the gory spirit this year.

The office fridge is fully stocked with spooky delicacies (see left), and we’re planning a Great Pumpkin carving and pumpkin ale tasting for this afternoon.

Afterwards will be a scary silent film streaming, for which we’ll sample a few different early cinema classics such as Nosferatu (1922), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), and The Golem (1915).

Check back next week to see the fruits of our labor, or better yet, stop in and give us a hand – or just a couple of fingers.

Happy Thanksgiving from ESKW/A!

ESKW/A was happy to put down our pens and wrench away from our workstations for a few minutes yesterday to enjoy a delicious and festive home cooked meal.  Our annual pot luck was a scrumptious hit, and we joyfully patted each other on the back for being fabulous cooks as well as talented architects.  It’s important to be well-rounded, and we’re all feeling significantly ’rounder’ indeed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Meet Mike, Melissa, Marcella, and Amanda

ESKW is pleased to announce the addition of four new team members this month!  Below, we invite you to get to know them through some brief ‘welcome to the team’ interviews.


ESKW_MikeOng

Mike Ong

Mike

ESKW: So where are you from?

Mike: Born here, in Chinatown, raised in Queens.

ESKW: What was the first album you owned?

Mike: Oh god.  It was rap.  Notorious BIG.  Ready to Die was the album.

ESKW: What was your dream job when you were a kid?

Mike: It’s funny, if you think like kid, kid?  Before a kid that knows what a profession is?  It was actually a knight.  I thought they were the coolest thing.  You know, what they stood for.

ESKW: What spaces or buildings in NYC inspire you?

Mike: Waterfront areas — I gravitate to those spaces more.  And especially there because you get to see Manhattan skyline.

ESKW: What might you be found doing on weekends?

Mike:  Oh that’s easy, basketball.  Otherwise I’m doing some martial arts training.  Kung Fu.  Specifically Shao Lin.

ESKW: Would you be interested in leading the office in some martial arts mini-training classes?

ESKW Mike Ong

Mike: Haha sure! That sounds like it could be fun.  I’m a believer that the more you are engaged physically the better your mind functions.  One important note: my experience and training has been more about physical conditioning and less about self-defense.  For me it’s a physical form of meditation.  So a mini-training class would have that approach and not really “how do I break out of a choke hold” scenarios.

ESKW: We promise to be meditative and respectful, as long as you respect our right to wear neon spandex and blast ‘the eye of the tiger’ throughout.

Mike: [Laughing]  Yes all colors are welcome!  And I’m a big Rocky fan too.

ESKW: If you had to pick a project that you’ve worked on, academically or professionally, to live in for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Mike: It’s actually a studio project that I did.  And it ties back to my martial arts training, so for my final project there was this abandoned church that we had to renovate, and a sort of quarry not too far away.  For me it became this martial arts retreat center, where you’re in the quarry or up in this temple and there’s all these training spaces—it became an obstacle course kind of thing.


ESKW_MelissaRouse

Melissa Rouse

Melissa

ESKW: So where are you from?

Melissa: Outside of Atlanta, I guess I would say.  That’s where my parents are.

ESKW: What might you be found doing on weekends?

Melissa: I spend a lot of time with my friends on weekends.  Right now I try to be outside a lot, rooftopping.

ESKW: What was your dream job when you were a kid?

Melissa:  I remember when I was super little I said I wanted to be an exercise instructor.

ESKW: [Laughing] Well that can be your retirement plan.

Melissa:  [Laughing] Yeah.

ESKW: When the going gets tough, what’s blasting in your headphones?

Melissa:  I have different music for daytime and nighttime.   I really like The Format, which no longer exists — it’s the guy from Fun.  And the Decemberists, too.

ESKW: So what inspired you to be an architect?

Melissa_ESKWMelissa: Well we traveled a lot when I was growing up.  We lived in Germany for three years and we did a lot of traveling during that time, so just looking at all the different styles I guess peaked my interest in design.

ESKW: What spaces or buildings in NYC inspire you?

Melissa: There’s a SHOP building in Meatpacking that I really like.  It’s the one where they did an addition on top of it – the Porter House.  And I spend a lot of time on the waterfront, on the west side.  I really like that, the outdoor space there.


ESKW_MarcellaYee

Marcella Yee

Marcella

ESKW: Where did you grow up?

Marcella: I grew up in California in the Bay Area.  I think I grew up with a big sense of place.  I really liked going to parks with my cousins or going and seeing new places and my parents would always bring me to museums and we traveled a lot.  It was important to my parents to go around and see a lot of culture and I think noticing that helped influence me and noticing how that shaped the community.  And that’s really important to architecture too.

ESKW: What spaces or buildings in NYC inspire you?

Marcella: More the spaces.  New York has really great parks.  One of my favorite places to go is Governor’s Island.

ESKW: When you researched this firm before applying, what was your impression of ESKW/A?

Marcella: Just from the website and the statement of purpose that the firm stands for, I thought ‘Oh man, this firm is really dedicated to the New York community.’  And then I found the blog and you get a better sense of how the office culture is and you can just tell that they are probably the friendliest bunch of people you’ll ever meet!

ESKW: If you had to pick a project that you’ve worked on, academically or professionally, to live in for the rest of your life, what would it be?

MarcellaMarcella: This was a first year project, so I didn’t know what I was doing yet and I was a lot more free with it …  the things that I could just do.  Our project was in these hills on a site near our school, and the school is placed in this really scenic coastal city in California.  I did this all glass building and I put a waterfall that flowed from the second story to the first story.  Yeah, I would live in that building.


ESKW_AmandaRoyaleSengstacken

Amanda Royale Sengstacken

Amanda

ESKW: Where are you from?

Amanda: New York State – Rockland County.  In the city we call it ‘upstate’ but honestly it’s about as far ‘downstate’ as you can go before you’re in Manhattan so that always irks me.  So I’m from ‘downstate NY’.

ESKW: What might you be found doing on weekends?

Amanda: I go indoor rock climbing most weekends.  I’m also trying to take advantage of the weather and work on biking in the city.  I just learned how to ride a couple years ago so I have a long way to go.  But I maintain hope that I’ll manage to bike to work at least a few times this year.

ESKW: What spaces or buildings in NYC inspire you?

AmandaAmanda: I will never stop having a sense of joy and wonderment when I ride over a bridge at night and look back at the city.  And its reflection on the water.  It’s lucky we have the smog; if there were stars too I couldn’t handle it.  I feel that sense of ownership that all New Yorkers do, and maybe more because I grew up nearby – NY was always just The City.

ESKW: If you had to pick a project that you’ve worked on, academically or professionally, to live in for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Amanda: I did this museum for my 5th semester studio, in Italy on a steep hill, and the studio was all about interpreting the way fabric can be manipulated to create structure.  I came up with this translucent, vaulted, pleated museum twisting down the hill, totally impossible of course, but I wish I could walk through it.  Assuming we wouldn’t all be fried like ants under a magnifying glass inside.