January 3, 2024
by: AIA New York
Headshot of Gregory Switzer
Gregory Switzer, AIA, NOMA, NCARB, 2024 President, AIA New York; Managing Principal and CEO, SWITZER Architecture, P.C. Photo: Courtesy of Greg Switzer.
Interior of AMAMI in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
AMAMI restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Switzer.
Interior of Jay Conference, New York, NY
Jay Conference, New York, NY. Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Switzer.
Interior of Jay Conference
Jay Conference, New York, NY. Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Switzer.
Interior of Jay Conference
Jay Conference, New York, NY. Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Switzer.
Exterior of The Mill in Long Island City
The Mill, Long Island City. Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Switzer.

In tandem with the new year, AIA New York has passed the gavel to 2024 AIANY President Greg Switzer, AIA, NOMA, NCARB, who holds more than 30 years of experience with several notable architectural and design firms and currently serves as Managing Principal and CEO of his self-founded firm, SWITZER Architecture. Recently, he served a two-year term as President (2021-2022) at nycobaNOMA, and participates actively in the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and the Borough of Glen Ridge Historic Preservation Board. He previously served as a member of Queens Community Board #2 for more than seven years with a stint as Vice-Chairperson and was active member of the Land Use Committee.

Switzer launched his practice in 2003 as a response to the ever-changing architecture and interiors marketplace. He describes himself as committed to guiding clients through the often-tedious tasks of organization and understanding the impact of the built environment with respect to their unique projects. Projects by SWITZER Architecture balance creative thought, the leveraged use of technology, and a true sensitivity and appreciation of process.

Switzer received a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute and a Bachelor of Interior Design from Louisiana State University. He was also a research fellow at Cornell University and has authored several sections of various books and publications with his most recent contribution to the Interior Design Handbook of Professional Practice. In 2000, he received recognition on The Network Journal‘s 40 Under 40 list and has lectured on master facilities planning for the American Management Association.

Q: How and why did you decide to pursue Architecture?

Architecture is inherent in my DNA; my father’s profession kindled my curiosity from an early age. I reminisce about the expansive drafting table in my childhood home, where I explored drawing with parallel bars, templates, and stylish pencils. Early on, my passion for interior and architectural design became evident. High school art, technical drafting, and industrial arts classes solidified my interest, leading to my first job at 14 with my father’s firm, The Switzer Group. Immersed in the vibrant atmosphere, I printed blueprints and served as a messenger while embraced by a diverse staff always willing to discuss their projects. Upon graduating high school, I pursued a degree in Interior Design at Louisiana State University. Actively engaged with ASID, I rose to Chapter President and eventually Southwest Regional Vice President. Academically strong, I won numerous national design competitions, becoming the first Black male to complete the program. In my junior year, I recognized the need to become a registered architect to fully address the complexities of “License Acts” and “Title Acts” in the interior design profession. This realization prompted me to pursue further education at Pratt for my Bachelors in Architecture, dismantling potential barriers as a design professional.

Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges, or opportunities, facing cities today?

I am delighted that you posed this question, as it lies at the heart of my presidential theme for this year, Belonging and Beyond. This theme focuses on a critical aspect of human well-being, one that enhances physical and social-emotional health and resilience for both individuals and communities. As architects, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity, urging us to heighten our awareness and engagement in fostering intentional inclusion. Our responsibility is magnified in addressing issues related to affordability, exclusion, displacement, homelessness, climate change, and other factors that hinder sustained connections among people and places.

It is imperative that we wholeheartedly embrace our role and recognize our potential as change-makers. Simultaneously, we must humbly acknowledge that the voices and wisdom of those intimately familiar with design challenges and opportunities are indispensable complements to our own expertise and starting points. This inclusive approach involves building relationships, sharing information, and gathering input from community members. By doing so, we ensure that the perspectives, needs, and aspirations of the community become integral considerations in the design process. Recognizing this, it becomes evident that true excellence in design cannot be accurately acknowledged without the incorporation of this inclusive element into the overall process.

Q: What are your thoughts on architectural education right now?

In my view, this is a conversation and would be a fantastic multi-part podcast series with a panel of educators, professionals, and students. A degree in architecture provides a basic toolbox and language needed to enter the profession; the ARE tests the level of an individual’s competency of information learned, but when does an emerging professional really thrive? In short, when they are adequately mentored. Other areas where I believe architectural education can be improved:

  • Interdisciplinary Education: Architects often work in multidisciplinary teams, so educational programs need to reflect this reality by encouraging collaboration across various disciplines.
  • Affordability and Access: The cost of architectural education can be a barrier for some students; addressing this issue promotes inclusivity and diversity in the profession.
  • Technological Advancements: As AI becomes more relevant in the design process, conversations on ethics should be part of the education process. We need to be proactive in this regard as AI evolves into a more powerful design tool.

Employers are also a huge part of the education process and should take every measure to develop talent and their understanding of all components of a project. I’ve come across way too many young professionals with three to four years’ experience that are experts in manipulating drawings in BIM or CAD but do not not understand how to create basic details without the aid of these programs. This should not be the case if we as professionals are doing our part in the education of future architects.

Q: What are your greatest sources of inspiration?

My ultimate source of inspiration emanates from my family, where their sacrifices, boundless love, unwavering support, and deeply ingrained values have not only molded the essence of my character but have also laid the foundation for my aspirations as an architect. Running in parallel to this familial front of inspiration is my passion for art and music, a dynamic duo that consistently nurtures and amplifies my creative self. I draw inspiration from these expressive forms, feeding my imaginative spirit to new heights. Together, the resilient bonds of family and the harmonious interplay of artistic passions seamlessly coalesce, propelling me forward in my journey as an architect.


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