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New York, New York
United States of America

Sustainability, Green Ideas, Environment, Networking, Architecture, Engineering, Building Systems, Farah Ahmad, Farah Naz Ahmad

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My personal journal: architecture, travel, current events, New York City, & more.

Filtering by Tag: architecture

ACE Mentor New York: Our Future is in Good Hands

Farah Ahmad

There is nothing more heart-warming than witnessing the initiatives taken by students to grasp the practicalities of their current passion and future professions! Such was the scene at the NYU Kimmel Center for University Life this past Spring, May 27th. The ACE Mentor Program held one of a series of presentations, of which I had the pleasure and honor to serve as a juror for. Each year, ACE participants present the designs they have worked on throughout the course of their participation. I couldn't have been more thrilled to see the dedication of the confident youth who have pursued their dreams and received quite the pedagogical training through these projects.

As an ACE graduate myself, having participated in the Staten Island chapter of the program during my high school years, I recalled the delight of meeting a 'real' architect- one whose designs were taken off the drawing board and erected into an inhabitable building for the world to experience! Returning as an ACE Alumna, I was more than pleased to hear ACE students explaining the MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) systems of their projects, the process they took to design their facades, the square footages they allocated to their spaces, the needs of the clients they would serve, sustainability and LEED project points, site selection, and much more! Four teams of the ACE New York chapter, spearheaded by their mentors- professionals of the building industry- captured the stages of architectural design, engineering, and construction, through interdisciplinary coordination, process in design development, and resourceful creativity. With their incredibly thoughtful presentations, it was easy, and honestly quite inspiring, to observe how much these students had grown through their ACE participation. It takes a mentor and an often immeasurable thirst for knowledge to spark a mind in the right direction, and these students possessed both tools!

For those of you who know young high school students interested in a career in the building industry, PLEASE recommend ACE to them, as it is an invaluable resource for learning the 'ins and outs' of this absolutely dynamic career path! I thank the students for showing us the drive you have to advance yourself in this industry! I am quite assured that the built environment of New York City is in safe hands!

Click below to scroll through gallery, photos courtesy of AECOM:

CCNY Corner

Farah Ahmad

Spring Rooftop Event '14

The City College of New York's Architecture Alumni Group proves its continued success in establishing a tight-knit of network of well known design and building industry professionals in and around New York City! 

The seasonal Alumni events always draw alumni of many different graduating years, ranging from recent grads to CCNY 'veterans'- those who return to the Upper Manhattan campus on numerous occasions to serve as mentors, and demonstrate their continued support for the City College Spitzer School of Architecture (SSA).

The Spring Rooftop event has become a tradition which subsequently allows the school community to celebrate the rooftop space of its newly-opened facility (2009), The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects.

In addition, the school's Solar Roofpod, The City College of New York's entry for the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in 2011, has returned to campus. The urban prototype, a solar-powered home, is now integrated beautifully on the rooftop of SSA. The home was made available for interior tours to event attendees.

Carol Kurth's Legacy

Carol Kurth, who ran the Architecture Alumni Group for many years, handed over the 'ropes' to new President Venesa Alicea, at the Spring event. Carol and Venesa have donated much of their time and resources to mentoring students, establishing networking opportunities, and obtaining CCNY's School of Architecture the recognition its talent deserves, amongst many other contributions. Says new President Venesa, "I'm looking forward to working with the 2014-2015 CCNY Architecture Alumni Board to strengthen the alumni network connection between all the programs offered through the CCNY Spitzer School of Architecture, and continuing to create & promote career development / networking / mentoring opportunities for alumni, and for students. We look forward to highlighting the amazing & diverse paths taken by City College graduates in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and beyond."

Carol's legacy has had a lasting impact on current students and former graduates. Her leadership in the AAG for the last eight years has been incredibly memorable. Says Carol proudly, "It has been a privilege to work with such an incredible, dedicated, and talented group of people! I truly have loved and cherished leading our Group over these many years and am so proud of all we have accomplished together.... here's to inspiration for future generations of Architecture Alumni!

So many of our Alumni, current Board members, and current faculty members had such amazing remarks about Carol, that it was difficult to exclude any of them.. these sentiments paint a clearer portrait of her character:

  •   "A sincere thanks to Carol. A major step forward has been taken during your time as our active President."   
  •  "Carol is a treasure and a hero in our eyes.. Words are not enough to thank you for your service and your devotion to your Alma Mater. We are in your debt." 
  • "Thank you for your leadership these past years, it has truly been great to see the growth of the architecture alumni group over the years, and the growing relationship between the alumni, administration, faculty & students. We could not have done it without your steadfast dedication to the group.  With the relocation of the Solar Roof Pod on the roof, you have set a great example of the opportunities available when everyone works together with a common vision. We look forward to more successful years, and I thank you for leading and paving the way for us moving forward."
  • "I admire your effective leadership. You really reinvigorated the organization and made it an important part of the CCNY community."
  • "Carol, you're the very best in every which way. I feel proud and privileged to form part of this dedicated Group led by you and now by Venesa."   
  • " generously gave your loyalty, knowledge, and enthusiasm to Alumni and students. As a result of your guidance on the board, we have a much deeper fellowship as Alumni and to City College. I personally learned a great deal from you, and your involvement with the City College Architecture Alumni has continually reminded me why this college is so great."
  •  "We all thank you for your dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism that has reinvigorated the alumni, setting up a strong base from which to continue it's growth and the expanding value it brings to its membership."
  • "Carol, it is you who deserve the kudos for having been such an energetic and inspirational leader. Your dedication and selfless example has set a very positive pattern of continuity and support for our alma mater and all of the young and talented architects yet to come."
  • "I can't begin to tell you how much you meant to the college and the alumni- Job well done!"
  • "You were and remain an extraordinarily dedicated leader of our alumni group. You carry yourself with style and grace in everything you do."
  • "You've had a profound impact on CCNY's chapter both 'on camera' and behind the scenes... all the personal mentoring you have done, and that which I have witnessed towards others, has inspired me to give back to SSA in my years to come! By helping to re-launch the AIA student chapter, heavily supporting the Solar Decathlon efforts, creating networking opportunities between ALL years, and establishing what has become a 'family' of graduates, you have accomplished something truly phenomenal that cannot be merely expressed in words... but only seen by the smiles of all those who re-visit CCNY at some of the many events you have helped to organize! Your time and commitment will be deeply valued for years to come, and your legacy upon the school greatly remembered. Thank you for your dedication and showing all of us students and emerging professionals the excitement of our profession and teaching us to appreciate the gifts we gained at The City College of New York!"

For more information on the CCNY Architecture Alumni Group (AAG) and the Spitzer School of Architecture, check out the below links:

Spitzer School of Architecture at CCNY

CCNY Architecture Alumni Group 

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Sky High... Prices?

Farah Ahmad

The Skyscraper's Museum exhibit SKY HIGH (& the logic of luxury) in New York City presents the recent proliferation of residential towers and their rise in Manhattan.

A Spring visit to Downtown New York's Skyscraper Museum left me with less hope for the city's chronic affordable housing dispute. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s future plan includes the preservation and construction of 200,000 affordable residential units, and an end to land distribution to ruthless developers who consume what little is left of New York City’s undeveloped space. SKY HIGH, the current exhibition running through mid-June, showcases the work of famed architects SHoP Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Zaha Hadid Architects, Herzog and de Meuron, and Rafel Vinoly Architects amongst other esteemed companies.

How can we see the light of this vision through until the end of the tunnel, when gentrification rampantly roams our city streets? Gentrification has spurred a population migration, displacing those who can no longer afford already-high rents and implementing a wider social schism between the wealthy and poor. Moreover property values promote business competition and the ‘fame’ greedy developers and architects chase after, to build the city’s next admired marvel.

SKY HIGH is perhaps a prime example of the developers’ soaring ambitions to dominate the cityscape, a documentation of the recent propagation of super-slim towers. Featured in the exhibit are such projects as the Hudson Yards development, three of the 57th street towers- 432 Park Avenue, One57, and 111 West 57th Street- 56 Leonard tower of downtown Manhattan, and the Four Seasons at 30 Park Place. These modern super-slender structures seem to spiral seamlessly towards the sky, achieving 90+ stories of steel

            These towers may provide the glitz and glamour of luxurious living, undoubtedly with pretty panoramic views and a perch of privacy looking out to the glorious city. But with prices as high as $95 million for these ‘sky-rise penthouses’ wouldn’t you expect more than the issues that will undoubtedly rise for most of New York City’s denizens? Cost figures that we cannot attain in a lifetime of work… these resources are drained upon private spaces when nearly half of New York City’s populations spends over 30% of its income on its housing? What sort of lifestyle is New York City advocating by accepting such commissions on the territory of ‘opportunity for all’?

            The exhibit presents the most ‘famous’ of projects as revered objects of allure and appeal but fails to capture the history or preservation efforts of these sites. Indisputably tourists will appreciate the ‘ever-changing’ city with its attraction of the world’s most esteemed builders. What one may perceive SKY HIGH as the skillful engineering of such tall feats and the clever maneuvering around air-rights and other zoning regulations, I would call a deceitful manipulation of HUMAN rights and a game by real estate tycoons to scramble furiously to the ‘top’.

As a song lyric states, “You’ll never fly, if you’re too scared of the heights.”

Yes, I am afraid of the social consequences of New York City’s towering tremor. As a resident of New York City in this case, however, I would prefer to keep my feet firmly grounded to the real solutions of New York City’s housing crisis.

For more information on New York City, read the below sources:

Click image below to scroll through gallery, photo credit: Moammar Sanchez.