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  • October 8, 2021
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    On September 27th, the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee held their first hybrid monthly meeting since February 2020. After eighteen months of virtual programming, it was wonderful to host many familiar faces and new members at the Center for Architecture.

    To commemorate the much-awaited return to in-person meetings, the committee shared the results of the 2021 AIANY WIA Programs and Events Survey. Arielle Lapp and Vasudha Mittal from the AIANY WIA Media Communications team shared statistics and feedback gathered from a hundred of our members. Suggestions included increasing the number of mentoring and networking events (which will hopefully be possible again in the coming months!) with preferences for panel discussions, small-group meet-ups and outdoor activities! We were glad to hear that our members’ favorite past events included our Leadership Breakfast series, Speed Mentoring, and the Women’s Initiative Group Forum. It was also interesting to note that 40% of our membership have spent more than two decades practicing architecture, and that 65% are licensed architects. You can view and share the complete survey results here.

    We would like to thank all our members for taking the time to fill in the survey and for sharing their thoughts and suggestions, which help us tailor and organize resources to better support our members and allies.

    For WIA’s upcoming events, good reads, related events across town, and relevant topics shared at the meeting, please view our September committee meeting agenda here.

    We would also like to call out to interested volunteers to email WIA@aiany.org (opportunities are listed on the last page of our agenda) for the upcoming Nov. 19 Design and Practice Exchange that we are co-hosting with the Boston Society of Architects Women in Design committee.

  • August 30, 2021
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    On Friday, August 13, the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee hosted our first in-person event in more than a year—a tour of the recently completed Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library that is now open to public. The $200-million gut renovation, designed by Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle, includes eight floors of important amenities serving users of all ages.

    Kerry Nolan, AIA, Senior Associate, Beyer Blinder Belle, and Advisory Board member of the AIANY WIA Committee, led the tour, which started on the public roof terrace with gorgeous views of the city and the “Wizard’s Hat”. We continued the tour through all floors down to the Children’s Library and Teen Space on the lowest level. Kerry provided interesting insights into the process behind the design and construction of the New York Public Library building. The furniture, finishes, lighting, acoustics, and graphics were all carefully considered, detailed, curated and executed. The design features a large triple height space that cuts through existing floor slabs connecting the floors housing the general circulating collection, bringing in abundant light, and exposing newly added mezzanine floors connected by a series of bridges spanning the void.

    We thank Kerry and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library for the tour as well as those who attended. We encourage all our members to visit the library and look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events in September!

  • July 20, 2021
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    On Tuesday, July 13th the AIANY Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) and Women in Architecture (WIA) committees co-hosted a panel discussion, ‘Founders’ Showcase: Women-Owned Firms In The Spotlight’, highlighting female founders of firms ranging from less than 10 years to Fellows who have been heading their practice for decades. Their stories inspire and lead the way for a new generation of design professionals.

    The speakers included Roberta Washington, FAIA, NOMAC, Principal, Roberta Washington Architects; Laura Heim, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal, Laura Heim Architect PLLC; Sara Jazayeri, AIA, Founding Principal, Studio 360; Julie Torres Moskovitz, AIA, Principal and Founder, Fete Nature Architecture; and Inés Guzmán Mendez, Director and Partner, Taller KEN. Their diverse backgrounds, paths and viewpoints resulted in an enriching and engaging conversation. Event moderator, Andrea Steele, AIA, Founding Principal, Andrea Steele Architecture did a marvelous job guiding the conversation and weaving the stories and themes together with her own experiences.

    The speakers shared their motivations for starting their own firms. They shared some of the challenges they faced with workplace culture, racial and gender bias, not being recognized for their contributions, and family planning – and how those experiences shaped their decisions as well as the values of their practices.

    A common vision and passion emerged for building and healing communities, social impact, client engagement, creating partnerships, and mentorship. We were inspired to focus not on limitations, but on possibilities and opportunities.  We understood the importance of empathy, critical thinking, perseverance, tapping into resources, learning, communication, and acknowledging the value of our work.

    We are grateful for the speakers’ time, leadership, and contribution. We also thank all those who attended and participated in the Q&A.

    We invite everyone to contribute to the WIA Programs and Events Survey to help make our future programs and events more relevant to your interests and professional development goals in the upcoming year. The survey closes on August 20. We also encourage emerging professionals to apply for the TORCH Mentorship Program, the deadline for which is August 1, 2021. Please follow the ENYA and WIA Committees on social media and register for upcoming events!

  • July 1, 2021
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    In celebration of Pride Month, the AIANY WIA Committee facilitated a discussion at our June committee meeting, around the use of the non-gendered linguistic identifier “Womxn”. The term can be used to signal the inclusion of those who have traditionally been excluded from the feminist discourse. We hosted designers that shared their experiences of being members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the AEC industry, as well as potential solutions for a more inclusive industry.

    Our speakers included Vanessa Hill, RA (she, her, hers) Senior Principal, Robert John Hill; A.L. Hu, AIA, NOMA, EcoDistricts AP (they, them, theirs) Design Initiatives Manager, Ascendant, and Sami Sikanas (she, her, hers) Intermediate Landscape Architectural Designer, Marvel Architects. Sara Ngan, AIA, LEED AP, (she, her, hers) Senior Associate, FXCollaborative and Advisory Board Member of the AIANY WIA Committee moderated the conversation. She started the discussion by clarifying terms such as ‘sexual orientation’, ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’, and thoughtfully guided the conversation.

    Each of the speakers shared their professional coming our story, and how it affected their personal and work lives, as well as their relationship with the term ‘womxn’. We learned how stereotypical gender binary perceptions can affect the way people are expected to behave, to how they dress in the workplace.  The panelists spoke about the mental health challenges, inner conflict, social stigma, and discrimination one may have to deal with as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. They also provided insights into ways in which support and allyship can manifest such as the addition of pronouns in emails; supporting legislation for equal rights; inclusive company policies and healthcare (medical and mental); equitable recruitment; transitioning in the workplace guidelines, representation on panels, speaking engagements and interviews (all year round and not only during Pride Month); mentor shadow programs; Employee Resource Groups; and intentional efforts in self-education.

    We are grateful to the speakers for their time and contribution, for answering the audience questions, and for showing us that when you have the freedom to express who you are, you bring your best and authentic self not only to work, but to your family, friends, and society. We are positive that the industry is evolving in the right direction and look forward to continuing this very important dialogue and becoming a more inclusive, empathetic, and diverse community. We thank everyone for their participation!

    Some resources shared at the event:

    The AIANY WIA June Committee meeting agenda, around town & related events, topics, good reads, speaker bios as well as a reference for gender sensitive terms can be viewed and downloaded here.

    The following job opportunities were shared by our members:

    Firms interested in participating in a ‘Return To Work Survey’ conducted by Cameron MacAllister Group may contact Annelise Pitts at pitts@cameronmacallister.com.

  • June 30, 2021
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    On Thursday, June 3, AIANY WIA was pleased to host “In Dialogue with: Stacy Smedley and Betty Rexrode on their Paths to Net Zero.” Our speakers shared a passion for reducing carbon footprints on both a personal level and an industry scale.

    Stacy Smedley grew up living partially off the land in a rural environment and developed a passion for sustainability at a young age. Her family eventually sold the farmland and she watched the fertile ground turn into suburban developments.  As she grew up and attended architecture school, she realized that not everyone has access to this relationship with nature. She made it her mission to address collective impacts on the environment to preserve natural habitats and resources. Stacy began her journey by developing open-access software called “Embodied Carbon in Construction” EC3 that enabled companies to track embodied carbon use at an industrial scale including supply-chain analysis.  It was critical that the software was easy to use and free. Eager to apply her findings to wider industry, Stacy grew into the role of Executive Director of Building Transparency and Director of Sustainability at SKANSKA. She is able to provide the tools for companies to procure, track, and reduce carbon footprints at industry scale.

    Betty Rexrode, AIA, Principal of Rexrode Chirigos Architects shared her family’s journey of establishing a net-zero lifestyle on Oak Island in the Great South Bay of NY. When she embarked on this journey, many of today’s efficient technologies for harvesting solar power and the trend for eating locally did not exist. Betty walked us through the trials, tribulations, and long-term rewards of pursuing this lifestyle. The family came to understand the privilege of water we enjoy in this country after exclusively using rainwater harvesting for two and a half years. Today Betty’s family is able to live entirely off the land including food and water. They maintain a fruit & vegetable garden, sustainably farm & harvest mollusks, forage, capture wild game, and carefully track their collective impact on the land. They are stewards of the environment, working to preserve and restore biodiversity in the Great South Bay.

    While recognizing that net-zero living is not a goal for every client, Betty emphasized the importance of establishing criteria for project-based decision-making that is right for any project regardless of ‘points.’

    While preparing for this dialogue, our speakers collaborated on a carbon-tracking / habit correcting app concept for individuals called “NILCH” that would help people make incremental changes in their lifestyles.

    We learned that we can examine our own environmental footprints, identify our personal tipping points, and make environmentally responsible choices.

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