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October 13, 2010
by Murrye Bernard Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Event: Conversations about Public Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.05.10
Speakers: Peter Magnani, AIA – Director, Capital Program Management/Facilities Planning, Queens Borough Public Library; David Resnick, AIA — Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Design + Construction
Moderators: Michael Plottel, AIA, and Anna Torriani, AIA, of the AIANY Public Architecture Committee
Organizer: Center for Architecture; AIANY Public Architecture Committee
Sponsors: Kramer Levin

Behind NYC’s civic facilities are architects in leadership positions who guide the procurement, design, and construction processes through government entities. Libraries and other community buildings comprise the highest volume of public projects, while the largest portion of the budget goes toward public safety projects, explained David Resnick, AIA, deputy commissioner of the NYC Department of Design + Construction.

Peter Magnani, AIA, director of Capital Program Management/Facilities with the Queens Borough Public Library system, who has overseen several library projects in Queens, and sees transparency as one of the most important themes to encourage visitors to stop by and stay a while. Marpillero Pollak Architects designed the renovation of the Elmhurst Branch Library; its original 1900s structure weighted the middle of the park. The renovation resulted in a “transparent and dynamic building,” according to Magnani, that reconnects visitors with the park. The Kew Gardens Hills Library by WORKac entices passersby with glimpses through the glazing of its ribbon-like façade. The new Glen Oaks Community Library by Marble Fairbanks Architects features varying degrees of opaque glass on the exterior.

On the other hand, for the PSAC II, a 911 call center designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill under Resnick’s guidance, the designers strived to create a pleasant workspace for people who “always have to be on top of their game” by including features like a green wall that functions as a huge air return system. Another large-scale public project that Resnick is involved with is the 35-acre College Point, Queens Police Academy by Perkins + Will, which consolidates several training facilities throughout the city into one. Resnick mentioned that the Design + Construction Excellence program also pairs small firms with small but significant design projects, providing yet another opportunity for architects to take part in shaping the public realm.

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