by Center for Architecture
On October 26, 2023, over 800 professionals from the architecture, engineering, construction, and real-estate industries gathered at Chelsea Piers’ Pier 60 for this year’s Common Bond Gala. Along with raising critical funding for the exhibitions, programs, scholarships, and activities of the Center for Architecture, the gala is an opportunity to celebrate some of the leaders who embody our community’s most cherished values, and to look towards the future of architecture in NYC by honoring promising students pursuing architecture at NYC-based schools. Three 2023 recipients of the Common Bond scholarship were awarded $3,500 and given the opportunity to attend and speak at the gala, accompanied by their academic deans: Katherine Menjivar, B.Arch candidate at the CCNY’s Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, Sofia Mercado, B.Arch candidate at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, and Olena Petsyukh, M.Arch candidate at Parsons School of Design, The New School.
Menjivar is a driven architecture student at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture. She has been awarded by the NAWIC 2019 Competition and continues to apply herself through design. Committed to developing settings that meet utilitarian needs and raise human connection and well-being, she is guided by a tireless curiosity and a desire to reimagine spatial experiences. Her ambition is to create cities and landscapes that serve as examples of inventiveness and creativity. Menjivar was accompanied to Common Bond by Marta Gutman, Dean of the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture.
“One of the things I’ve learned in the field is that growth is nonstop, whether you are a first-year student or an established architect with a firm,” Menjivar said. Referring to the images shown in the video, she said, “Those were projects of mine that were established my first year, and you can definitely bet that there has been a lot of progress and development between my first year and my third year. This award will not be taken for granted. Rather, it will just be taken as fuel to strive forward.”
Mercado is a fourth-year Bachelor of Architecture student at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. Born in Quezon City, Philippines and raised in Toronto, Canada, Mercado takes inspiration from and hopes to find a balance between the modern and vernacular architectures of both lineages. Her studies have allowed her to develop an understanding and appreciation for adaptive reuse, sustainability, landscape, material studies, and both digital and traditional fabrication. Outside of school, she finds interest in woodworking, ceramics, textiles, or any other form of craft and model making. It is her ambition to blur boundaries between craft and construction and to create an architecture rooted in context— mindful of the hands that build and bodies that inhabit. Mercado was in attendance with Hayley Eber, Acting Dean at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of the Cooper Union and Principal of Studio Eber.
“This scholarship means not only a lot to me, but to my family back home who have done nothing but support me throughout my life and academic career,” Mercado said. “I would also like to thank my dean, Hayley Eber, who has been a rock at Cooper Union and has done nothing but support me and my peers at our school. Thank you again for this incredible opportunity, and I’m so glad to have been able to spend the evening with so many great professionals, and also the inspiring honorees!”
Petsyukh is a dedicated MArch student at The New School with a passion for making positive changes in architectural practice. Originally from Ukraine, Petsyukh moved to the US, where her architectural journey took root at the New York City College of Technology. Before diving into the world of architecture, she earned a Graphic Design degree in Ukraine. After graduation, Petsyukh worked as a window display designer in Ukraine and the US, building a portfolio of projects that received appreciation and awards. Petsyukh’s interests and concerns in architecture encompass sustainability, social justice, and the use of healthy materials, exemplified by her latest group project at The New School concerning affordable housing for refugees from Ukraine. A former member of the Ukrainian National Rhythmic Gymnastics Team, her gymnastic experience instilled in her the values of discipline, grace, and the beauty of movement—a philosophy that resonates through her architectural projects. Petsyukh was accompanied by David J. Lewis, Dean of Parsons School of Constructed Environments and Principal at LTL Architects.
“I strongly believe that the present and future of architecture has only one path—the path of sustainability,” Petsyukh said. “By creating a meaningful and resilient architecture for generations to come, we can make a change. As a current student and future architect, I feel an incredible responsibility for addressing the consequences of the built environment in the context of the climate change crisis. But this responsibility doesn’t scare me, it inspires me. Thank you for having faith in my adventure and for investing in the future of architecture.”
Congratulations to our incredibly talented students! We look forward to seeing their projects to come.