by Center for Architecture
On Thursday, October 28, AIA New York and the Center for Architecture returned to Chelsea Piers, Pier 60, to host their first in-person fundraiser since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 600 in-person attendees and dozens of virtual guests joined us for Common Bond: The Center for Architecture Gala, helping us raise more than $900,000 to support our ambitious mission to educate the public about the importance of architecture and design via programming, scholarships, and free exhibitions.
At the gala, which serves as the Center for Architecture’s single largest fundraiser, architects, designers, and construction and engineering professionals joined us to celebrate our honorees, all of whom embody the resiliency and tenacity of New York City and have worked to transform our urban environment for the better. This year’s honorees were Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; Peggy Shepard, WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Sabrina Kanner, Brookfield Properties; and David M. Childs, FAIA, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
The evening’s first honoree, Gale Brewer, was introduced by AIANY and Center for Architecture Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA. Prosky recognized Brewer’s 20 years of constant service to the city, both as a City Council member and as Manhattan Borough President, and thanked her for being steadfast friend to our community throughout her time in office. “With her encouragement and help,” said Prosky, “Gale has helped us elect close to 50 architects to community boards over the past five years.”
In her acceptance speech, Brewer celebrated the creativity and expertise that architects bring to the table. “It’s no secret that I love the American Institute of Architects and the Center for Architecture,” said Brewer. “At your core, you as architects care about the world and the impact you make on people.”
Peggy Peña of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, was the evening’s second honoree. Her organization’s unique approach combines grassroots organizing, environmental advocacy, and community-based participatory research to advance environmental policy and center environmental justice. “Peggy personifies justice, inclusion, and community engagement, values that we rely on as both architects and citizens,” said Prosky. “My hope is that this recognition will lead architects to be more aware of the work that she does and seek her valuable council.”
Peña’s speech called on architects to apply their technical expertise to help solve the climate crisis, encouraging them to unite with diverse community allies for collective action. “I believe this award is an acknowledgement of the vigor, the vision and the strength, passionately exhibited by thousands of affected residents of color and of low income, both here and abroad, working within the multi-issue, multi-ethnic environmental justice movement,” said Peña.
AIANY 2021 President Ken Lewis, AIA, next introduced Sabrina Kanner of Brookfield Properties, celebrating her career, spanning nearly four decades, and her commitment to mentorship. Lewis said, “Sabrina represents the ambition and excellence that drives New York forward and the will to give back that’s so central to our mission.”
During her speech, Kanner recognized that we are standing at an inflection point, as we face the impacts of climate change, as well the renewed intensity of the racial justice and Me Too movements, that demands the breaking down of silos. “It is not just what we design but who we are designing for, who we are designing with, and what we design,” said Kanner. “Because as we know, have always known, and will forever believe, design matters.”
Although the evening’s final honoree, David M. Childs, FAIA, was unable to attend the ceremony, Lewis, also a partner at SOM, highlighted his contributions to New York City’s built environment, especially following 9/11. According to Lewis, “David has a legacy of work in New York that truly embodies the resilience of our city, a lesson we hold especially dear at this time of crisis.”
In a pre-recorded video, Childs also recognized that the past 20 years have been bookended by crises, providing us with an opportunity to re-envision our cities and our profession. “I think that there’s an opportunity for architects to work together, so that the team make-up of doing a building might be very different in the future,” said Childs. “We should bring together our colleagues in different fields to create the most responsive of answers in every way, not just the materiality of the building, but also the spaces between them.”
Common Bond also recognized four student scholarships recipients, who will each receive $2,500 from the Center for Architecture to pursue degrees in architecture at NAAB-accredited schools. Congratulations to Kedishia Joseph, Bachelor of Architecture, Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, CCNY; Abraham Mora-Valle, Master in Architecture, Yale School of Architecture; Farzana Ramnath, Bachelor of Architecture, New York City Institute of Technology; and Saba Salekfard, Master of Architecture, Yale School of Architecture.
And thank you to all of our friends, supporters, and colleagues who made the evening possible!