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October 28, 2020
by cschaulsohn
AIANY and Center for Architecture Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA. image: Courtesy of Center for Architecture.
AIANY 2020 President Kim Yao, AIA. Image: Courtesy of Center for Architecture.
Students during Project Pipeline program. Image: Courtesy of NOMA.
Students during Project Pipeline program. Image: Courtesy of NOMA.
2019-2020 NOMA President Kimberly Dowdell, AIA. Image: Courtesy of Kimberly Dowdell.
Design Advocates pro-bono work for Kopitiam. Image: Courtesy of Design Advocates.
Design Advocates graphic design work for test fits program. Image: Courtesy of Design Advocates.
Michael Chen, AIA, Co-founder and President, Design Advocates. Image: Courtesy of Michael Chen.
NYCCT Dean Gerarda M. Shields. Image: Courtesy of Gerarda M. Shields.
Rafia Amin, NYCCT student and Common Bond scholarship recipient. Image: Courtesy of Rafia Amin.
Farai Matangira, NYCCT student and Common Bond scholarship recipient. Image: Courtesy of Farai Matangira.

On Thursday, October 22, AIA New York and the Center for Architecture held their first-ever virtual gala. Common Bond: The Center for Architecture Gala, the organization’s single largest annual fundraiser, raised more than $530,000 to support our ambitious mission to educate the public about the importance of architecture and design via K-12 education, scholarships, public programming, and free exhibitions.

Over 600 architects, designers, and construction and engineering professionals joined us at commonbondgala.org on Thursday to celebrate design’s role in creating a more equitable and just future. Following an hour of virtual networking, attendees joined us for a video presentation that highlighted how the Center for Architecture quickly adapted to the challenging shifts of 2020. “This year wouldn’t be possible and the work wouldn’t be possible without the community that we have here,” said AIANY 2020 President Kim Yao, AIA. “I think in some ways this year has been more impactful than it would have been.”

The renaming of the gala itself similarly signified this shift: after polling our audiences, the new Common Bond is meant to align with the design visionaries that the event brings together, and signifies our organizations’ commitment to a more just and equitable future. Since its origins in the 1980, the event had previously been known as Heritage Ball, a fundraising gala celebrating design excellence in the city.

The video also celebrated this year’s Spotlight Series, highlighting projects, people and groups who have exemplified outstanding leadership in advocating for a more just New York City. Watch the replay:

The first spotlight, NOMA Project Pipeline, is a program that exposes children of color from diverse backgrounds to the architecture profession via summer camps for students in grades 6-12. 2019-2020 NOMA President Kimberly Dowdell, AIA, along with NYCOBA’s Project Pipeline Co-chairs Shereese Trumpet, Assoc. AIA, and Nehemie Souverain, Assoc. AIA, discussed the importance of the program in helping to connect a diverse group of students to the profession. “There’s a saying from Dr. Marian Wright Edelman: You can’t be what you can’t see,” said Dowdell. “Enabling our NOMA chapters to reach out into middle schools and high schools and really demonstrate what an architect does and who an architect can is a really powerful thing.”

The second spotlight focused on Design Advocates, a collaborative network of architects and designers working together to serve the public good. Michael Chen, AIA, Co-founder and Board President, Jane Lea, AIA, Co-founder and Treasurer, and Fauzia Khanani, Assoc. AIA, Co-founder and Board Member, discussed how the organization has fostered a sense of community between its members while also providing access to design services to businesses and institutions in need. “Design Advocates is set up as a non-profit,” said Khanani. “All of the time and energy that’s put into it has been on a volunteer basis.”

Finally, Common Bond also highlighted this year’s student scholarship recipients, Rafia Amin and Farai Matangira, both students of the New York City College of Technology (NYCCT), NYC’s most recently NAAB-accredited program. NYCCT Dean Gerarda M. Shields spoke on behalf of the school, and stressed the importance of the relationship between NYCCT and our organizations: “The New York City College of Technology has enjoyed a long history with AIANY, and the Center for Architecture has been an invaluable resource to our students.”

We thank all of this year’s attendees for making Common Bond a success during these challenging times and hope you will continue to engage with and support the Center for Architecture and its mission!

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