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  • November 9, 2022

    The WIA October Committee Meeting Agenda with curated recommendations for events, articles, films, podcasts and other resources can be accessed here.

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    On September 17, 2022, the AIANY WIA committee hosted the summer outing in Central Park. A forum on “Recognizing and Overcoming Burnout” was held at the picnic, facilitated by Rena Mande, Associate at PBDW Architects. The discussion was personal and collective and advocated for supportive work environments. The forum started with identifying the stages of burnout (exhaustion, cynicism, inefficacy), recognizing signs, and sharing stories of burnout. We also discussed the unique way that women and minorities are affected by burnout due to work environments that still operate from a systemically white male environment and that we exhaust ourselves trying to close the gap.

    Stories and tips were shared on prevention and recovery from burnout, and the importance of starting to institute remedies at early stages and signs: breaking to go for walks, recognizing sleep issues, prioritizing physical and mental health, decompressing after deadlines, and breaking the stress cycle. A notable comment was that it’s easier to recoup from the physical ramifications of stress than the mental and that the time necessary to recover should not be overlooked. But it was important to note that rest, relaxation, and replenishment can ease the experience of burnout but don’t address the root cause.

    Much of the discussion was focused on overcoming burnout and the ways work environments need to adjust to avoid employee burnout. Managing reasonable workloads, holding frequent check-ins, and identifying where or whom to go to when overwhelmed with work are critical to creating sustainable practices. Project schedules should build in breaks after deadlines and establish reasonable timelines for deliverables. There needs to be more communication with clients to manage expectations and some even brought up the potential of adding a clause in contracts to respect and take into consideration the well-being of the team in order to do their best work. To fully recognize the value of our work as architects, Partners need to advocate for employees and help establish just boundaries.

    We’re glad to have held this forum as a followup to earlier AIANY WIA sessions on burnout and look forward to seeing more discussion and analysis on wellbeing and the workplace.

    REFERENCE / RESOURCES

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    On October 26, 2022, the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee hosted an inspiring panel discussion with some of the featured architects in The Women Who Changed Architecturea recent publication of the Princeton Architectural Press. We were honored to have Nicole Dosso, FAIA, Vice President of Design and Construction, Vornado Realty Trust; Jill Lerner, FAIA, Principal, KPF; and Claire Weisz, FAIA, Founding Partner WXY. Suchi Reddy, AIA, Founding Principal, Reddymade, led the discussion as our moderator.

    The panelists shared their experiences on an extraordinary breadth of work ranging from university campuses in Shanghai, the iconic One World Trade Center, and planning efforts to improve the pedestrian experience in New York City. They all spoke on efforts towards pay equity, mentorship, and elevating women in the field. It was incredibly motivating to learn about their accomplishments, and how they have indeed Rocked the World, Raised the Roof (Floor), and Innovated for a Better World! Thanks to Suchi Reddy for masterfully weaving their stories together and having them speak from their hearts on topics dear to them.

    Thank you to our audience for your support, interest, and challenging questions (and for buying the book!). We had a raffle, and one lucky winner walked away with a free copy of The Women Who Changed Architecture! We were delighted that Jill, Claire, and Nicole generously autographed copies of the book for our attendees. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next WIA event!

  • October 31, 2022
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    On October 22, 2022, the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee hosted a tour of the award winning African Burial Ground National Monument in downtown Manhattan. The African Burial Ground is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York. We were honored to have the tour led by Nicole Hollant-Denis, AIA, Founding Principal, Aaris Design Architects.

    Prior to the tour of the memorial, we began with a presentation by Nicole of the inspiration and design process, a deeply personal and profound journey which we were honored to partake in. She shared her student thesis exploration of the transatlantic slave trade and how this led to entering a competition to design a memorial to the burial ground when she began her own practice. She explained the significance of this national monument and how it commemorates the sacred site with contemplative spaces that allow visitors to reflect on its history and meaning. The structure physically, spiritually, ritualistically, and psychologically defines the location of the historic reinterment of remains and artifacts. The presentation was a continuation of Hollant-Denis’s design presentation from February 2022.

    After the presentation, we viewed a short film that documented New York’s history when enslaved Africans helped build New Amsterdam (the colony’s name before it changed to New York). The African Burial Ground National Monument honors these Africans’ memory and contributions. Their spirit continues to guide visitors’ understanding of enslavement in New York City’s colonial history. The tour concluded with a visit to the memorial, where Nicole explained the significance and meaning behind the symbols, design, orientation and siting. In addition to our group, we were joined by a group of students from Buffalo who happened to be there at the same time, and how delighted they were to meet the designer of the monument!

    Nicole ended the tour by sharing with us her inspiration of the Woman King statue – a powerful symbol who represents leadership in a female mindset to push beyond the immediate solutions to one that is less violent and more about working together.

    We encourage everyone to visit the African Burial Ground National Monument and Visitor Center, a national park site, located at the Ted Weiss Federal Building at 290 Broadway, between Duane Street and Reade Street.

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    On October 17 , 2022, the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee hosted an extraordinary panel discussion on NYU’s 181 Mercer Street Façade Design, Technology and Deliveryas part of our ongoing series highlighting the achievements of women in the allied professions. We were honored to have Marielys De Leon-Minaya, Project Manager, Turner Construction Company; Samantha Leung, AIA, Associate, Heintges; Mayine Yu, AIA, Associate Partner, Davis Brody Bond; and Zinat Yusufzai, AIA, Principal, Kieran Timberlake as our speakers, and Jessica Young, RA, Principal, Heintges, as our moderator.

    The panelists described the design process, from concept through multiple iterations, to arrive at the final massing, and the various factors that informed the final design including regulatory restrictions, neighborhood context, complex program, thermal drivers, and logistics. We absolutely loved all the technical details, energy modeling, and mock-up examples they shared. The challenges of execution, tracking fabrication and supply chain and installation, all through COVID, and maintaining the schedule is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the team.

    Marielys, Samantha, Mayine, Zinat and Jessica also shared their personal stories and career paths, and provided thoughtful answers to the audience questions. We are grateful to each of our speakers for being a role model to the next generation of women architects, and those who are considering pursuing allied professions.

    A special thank you to Areta Pawlynsky, AIA, Senior Principal, Heintges for proposing this relevant topic to the WIA Committee. We appreciate all the time and effort that went into making this panel a successful event. Thank you to our audience for your support and interest, and for your challenging questions. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next WIA event!

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