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Nicole Schuster, AIA, President of AIACNY, wrote an op-ed explaining the AIACNY’s stance on a major redevelopment project in Syracuse which was widely received in the local media. This project may be viewed as a model for elevated viaduct redevelopment nationwide. The article was republished in print format and included in the Sunday edition of the Post Standard, has been shared over 450 times and has numerous comments. To post your comment or share, click here.

From Syrcause.com and The Post-Standard

Architects: We need big ideas, not a bigger Interstate 81 (Your letters)

This image from Rethink81 shows what Almond Street might look like without the Interstate 81 viaduct. The CNY Chapter of the American Institute of Architects supports demolition of the highway in favor of a Community Grid plan that would bring life and commerce into spaces now in the shadow of the interstate. (Rethink81)

To the Editor:

Close your eyes and visualize a mini Park Avenue in New York City, or Millennium Park in Chicago. These urban areas are pedestrian-friendly spaces with a mix of high-rises and street-level mixed-use properties. These locations, home to some of the most valuable real estate in the world, are also critical components of a city street grid.

The I-81 Viaduct Project is an opportunity for our region to think big. Not a big new highway, but grand and innovative ideas on what to do with the (hopefully) soon-to-be former viaduct corridor.

Selecting the Community Grid option over replacing the current Viaduct with a newer, bigger highway should be a “no-brainer.” Removing the elevated highway will open up a range of opportunities for our region; to further reinvigorate the city, to reconnect divided communities and to stimulate unprecedented growth.

Syracuse was one of many cities across the country which made the fateful urban planning decision in the 1950s and 1960s to build elevated highways through their urban centers. In every case, the neighborhoods in the shadows of the viaducts suffered a similar fate; abandonment and isolation, reduced property values, pollution and noise. Beyond the socio-economic impacts on neighborhoods, city highways severely limit economic development, and they are not terribly efficient, either. Have you ever been one of the 44,000 people a day who use Exit 18 (Harrison/Adams) during the morning and evening commute?

Today, cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Dallas and New Haven have already, or are in the process of, tearing down elevated city highways. In Milwaukee, where the Park East Freeway was razed in 1999, urban development has flourished with property values in the affected area increasing by 45 percent. In 2007, Manpower relocated its 900-employee global headquarters to a site in downtown Milwaukee formerly occupied by elevated the highway.

This can happen in Syracuse.

We have an opportunity to revitalize the valuable areas currently shadowed by I-81.

The economics favor the Community Grid option as well. The Grid costs $400 million less than the Viaduct, which also takes longer to build and requires increasing annual maintenance costs over the next 50-plus years. Equally important, the Community Grid stimulates economic growth. There is a need to re-densify the city, especially in walkable areas like those around Almond Avenue. Walkable zones attract people and development generating sales and property tax revenue. We have an opportunity to revitalize the valuable areas currently shadowed by I-81.

In addition to the community-building and economic development benefits, there are compelling logistics arguments for the Community Grid. Eighty-eight percent of the traffic on the existing viaduct consists of people travelling to the city – most for work. The current highway, however, is designed to help cars bypass the city altogether.

The Community Grid design taps into the existing infrastructure, dispersing traffic throughout the city grid by promoting broader use of the existing underutilized street network. The design provides direct connections to key destinations in the city and adds new exits to ease congestion and further spread traffic. In the grid, instead of one path to their destination, drivers will have multiple access points.

The grid design is also the least disruptive option, requiring the acquisition of just five buildings. The construction of a new Viaduct will condemn and demolish 24 buildings, including at least 12 structures of historical significance.

The American Institute of Architects Central New York chapter created the AIACNY81 Task Force in 2013 to carefully follow this process; to help broaden community knowledge and promote good design and planning practices. Based on our review of the current plans, we strongly recommend the Community Grid alternative, which would knit the city together again and offer unprecedented redevelopment potential.

For this process to be truly successful we must view this as more than just fixing a mistake, or designing a better traffic pattern. The Community Grid presents an urban development opportunity which will have a profound effect on our region for generations.

Syracuse, Central New York and New York state must maximize this opportunity. Let’s get this right with big ideas not a big new highway. We look forward to being an integral part of this important planning conversation.

Nicole Schuster
AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CPHC
President
AIACNY Chapter
Syracuse

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Nicholas Isaacs
AIA New York State
Phone: (518) 449-3334
E-Mail: nisaacs@aianys.org

The American Institute of Architects New York State Announces the Firm of the Year: WXY architecture + urban design

Albany, NY – The American Institute of Architects New York State (AIANYS) is announcing the recipient of the 2016 AIANYS Firm of the Year Award.  Established in 2005, the purpose of the Firm Award is to recognize notable achievements in design, community service, education and service to the profession and the AIA by an architectural firm within New York State.

WXY architecture + urban design, from New York City, is an award winning firm specializing in architecture, urban design and planning.  WXY founders and AIANYS members Claire Weisz, FAIA and Mark Yoes, AIA, and Principals Layng Pew, AIA, and Dr. Adam Lubinsky, PhD, AICP, have guided the firm to be recognized as an innovative leader in architecture, urban resiliency and public space design, noted for their progressive and thoughtful approach to sustainable design, melding the design with client and community engagement.

The WXY team believes in responsible design, taking a thoughtful and innovative approach integrating the many aspects of large scale projects, such as infrastructure and economic development, to envision reimagined urban design, cityscapes and revitalized spaces to enhance our communities.

AIANYS President Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, FAIA, said, “I congratulate Claire and Mark and their team on receiving this award and cannot think of a more deserving firm.  WXY have been the innovative leaders on sustainable urbanism, noted for their projects around the great city of New York and also in Detroit, Texas and beyond. Their ability to create structures and plans which are in chorus with the surrounding cityscape, and do so with environmentally sensible means, demonstrate their commitment to the profession.  They embody what being part of AIA is all about.  Congratulations to the entire WXY team.”

“Building this firm has been an amazing collaboration,” said Claire Weisz.  “But the real reward is being a part of so many transformational projects around New York. It’s truly humbling to know we have been a part of making New York a more vibrant and livable place, and for this work to be so highly regarded by AIANYS.” said Mark Yoes.

“This award confirms for us that the future of architecture is multi-disciplinary.” said Layng Pew.   Adam Lubinsky adds “The world has become too complex for these disciplines to exist apart from each other. We’ve seen at WXY that transformational change—such as the rebuilding of the Rockaway Boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy, or designing a new process for community engagement in East Harlem—can only happen when planning informs the spatial relationships of the built environment.”

AIANYS Executive Director Georgi Bailey, said “WXY’s commitment to the profession is a highlight of the many prolific architectural firms in New York State.  The team at WXY have proven they are an innovative leader in the profession, noted by their peers and capturing the attention of the design world.  I would like to congratulate Claire, Mark and the WXY team on behalf of all AIA New York State members.”

The recipients will be honored at a reception held on the evening of Friday, September 30th, 2016 in Saratoga Springs, NY.

AIANYS is the state component of the American Institute of Architects and is composed of 13 components representing over 8,500 architecture professionals statewide.  For further information, please visit www.aianys.org or call (518)-449-3334.

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Documents and/or Photos available for this release:

Seaglass Carousel by Wade Zimmerman

To view supporting documents and/or photos, go to www.enr-corp.com/pressroom and enter Release ID: 404730

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Architecture in the Age of Digital Imagery

By Philip Anzalone, AIA: a panelist on “Architectural Automation in the Age of Neuromimetic Artificial
 Intelligence” presented at the 2016 Saratoga Design Conference
Photo: Augment.com

The AEC industry is poised to take on virtual reality and augmented reality as a critical component of the professional toolbox.

There are two related emerging, or more appropriately re-emerging, methods of visualization which hold a promise to change the way architectural design and construction are viewed by the designer, builder, client and general public. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are three dimensional computational visualizations that rely on real-time user interaction with digital models and data. Current computational machinery, particularly portable technology, such as smart phones with increased processing power and ubiquitous nature of the equipment, coupled with high-definition screens, advanced software, GPS systems and other technologies, has rendered VR/AR at the point of public consumption, providing for a resurgence of use the AEC industry is perfectly poised to take advantage of.

 2016 AIANYS Design Awards Recipients Announced

The American Institute of Architects New York State (AIANYS) is announcing the recipients of the 2016 AIANYS Design Awards.  Annually since 1968, the Design Awards has celebrated, honored and promoted excellence in architectural design and planning by New York State architects.

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“Architects, as the leaders in design of the built environment, are responsible to act as stewards of the Earth.” – The American Institute of Architects

Currently, the federal government is moving to implement the Clean Power Plan with a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent.  The EPA will require every state to come up with an approved implementation plan to meet these targets.  While carbon reduction goals vary from state to state, New York has been a leader on the national stage when it comes to policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions, including the Regional Green House Initiative (RGGI) and the newly proposed goal to require 50 percent of the energy portfolio to come from renewable sources.

According to the National Science and Technology Council, commercial and residential buildings consume a third of the world’s energy and account for 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions.  If worldwide energy-use trends continue, buildings will become the largest consumer of global energy by 2025—more than the transportation and industrial sectors combined.  The domestic energy and climate change challenge cannot be addressed without changing the way our buildings are designed, constructed, and operated.

Architects are uniquely positioned in leading efforts to increase energy efficiency in the commercial building market through their work as creative commercial building problem solvers.  From establishing the project mass and orientation to incorporating passive lighting and ventilation strategies, architects hold the key to reducing energy consumption of building designs.

Current trends in consumer demand for environmentally responsible buildings and products show high-performing building design will be a lasting theme in the construction industry.  To meet this demand, the AIA has embarked on an ambitious 2030 Commitment to quantify and report the progress of AIA members to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment and ultimately reverse the trend of carbon output.

Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, the AIA developed the AIA 2030 Design Data Exchange, or DDx.  This tool streamlines the process for firms to share project information in real time so other architects can view their building performance projections and measure them against their goals.

For 150 years, AIA members have been advancing the quality of life through innovations to the built environment.  Architects have moved to the forefront of the 2030 Challenge by designing “net zero” buildings, where the amount of energy the building consumes is equivalent to the amount of energy produced.  Further, there are more and more instances where architects are designing net positive buildings, to actually contribute more resources than used to operate. AIA members across the country have reported a 270% increase in net zero projects, indicative of the trend for efficient design.  In beauty and function, all architecture is beginning to resemble energy efficient architecture.

Part of the commitment is also to design resilient buildings.  In response to Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee, architects have been working with the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program to mitigate the extreme effects of climate change.

Leading by Design: This is the architect’s contribution to the creation of a sustainable world.

For more information on how architecture affects you, contact AIA New York State at 518-449-3334 or visit www.aianys.org.

2015 AIANYS Firm of the Year Award – Press Release

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