by AIA New York
Mark Yoes, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal, WXY, helped to pioneer the integration of architecture and infrastructure for the public realm. His architectural designs have set a national standard by infusing New York’s built environment with civic dignity. Dedicated to architecture in the public realm for nearly 30 years, Yoes believes that elegant design solutions can resolve the most complex issues that cities face today. Among his most celebrated works are the award-winning Sanitation Garage and Salt Shed in Manhattan, which transforms infrastructure into public amenity and sculpture. This approach has worked across diverse building and project types ranging from schools, to an EMS ambulance station, park architecture, affordable housing and even the SeaGlass Carousel, which demonstrates tight integration of architecture, art and civic space. Other visionary works demonstrate the ability to effect change at a vast scale, such as the Rockaway Boardwalk, the city’s first and still the largest rebuilding project after Hurricane Sandy. The unifying theory behind every project is a simple but powerful one: a vibrant public realm depends on thoughtful integration of architecture and infrastructure to infuse the built environment with civic dignity.
In 2018, the Jury of Fellows of the AIA elevated Yoes to the College of Fellows in the first category of Fellowship, which recognizes architects who have “Promoted the aesthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of the profession,” according to the organizations’s definition. Now among the AIA membership’s three percent distinguished with Fellowship and honorary Fellowship, Yoes was recognized at the New Fellows Reception hosted by AIA New York and at an investiture ceremony at the AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City.
Q: What is your proudest achievement as an architect?
A: There have been many favorites and proud moments, but one of the most interesting projects we have worked on was for The Reed Academy, a school for children and young adults with autism. It is one of those architectural programs that makes you reexamine all of your assumptions about how the world works.
Q: What is your earliest memory of experiencing architecture?
A: My earliest experience of architecture was from a very early age watching my grandfather build a 36 foot long Trimaran sail boat in his driveway in Corpus Christie, Texas. It was a display of structure, form, and space in the making.
Q: What is influencing your work the most right now?
A: Being an architect should be about trying to make the world a better place. I am inspired and humbled by people who put themselves on the line to do that, like Black Lives Matter, and the high school students in Florida who are speaking out against the scourge of gun violence.
Q: What are you working on right now, or what is your next big project?
A: We are working on a pedestrian bridge with Thornton Tomasetti that is under construction at West Thames Street. The bridge will span West Street to provide a safe crossing to and from Battery Park City.
Q: What does being a fellow mean to you?
A: My elevation to the College of Fellows is a great honor for me, but also for all of our collaborators in our office who made it possible.
Editors’ Note: This feature is part of a series celebrating the members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York Chapter who are elevated each year to the AIA College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to both the profession and society. Learn more about Fellowship here.