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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: design

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:

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.