August 24, 2023
NEW YORK, NY, August 24, 2023 —On Thursday, October 26, professionals from the architecture, engineering, construction, and real estate industries will gather at Chelsea Piers, Pier 60 for Common Bond: The Center for Architecture Gala. Since the 1980s, AIA New York and the Center for Architecture have gathered 1,000+ guests each fall to celebrate design excellence in New York City and recognize its leaders and visionaries.
Common Bond will also serve as the single largest fundraiser for the Center for Architecture, providing critical funding to help the organization and its partner, AIA New York, support the ambitious mission to educate the public about the importance of architecture and design. While offering an unparalleled opportunity for forging professional connections, the event provides critical funding for the Center for Architecture’s exhibitions, programs, scholarships and other activities, including our popular Education Programs. Guests can support the event by purchasing a sponsorship, ticket, or ad by October 13.
The Center for Architecture has announced its distinguished 2023 Common Bond honorees, each embodying the values that define our community: collaboration, sustainability, inclusivity, civic engagement, and a commitment to design excellence. Please join us in congratulating Rohit T. “Rit” Aggarwala, Jeanne Gang, FAIA, Jolie Andler Milstein, and The Legacy of Joan K. Davidson and the J.M. Kaplan Fund. Additionally, we are pleased to be recognizing three exceptional architecture students with scholarships at the gala: Katherine Menjivar, Sofia Mercado, and Olena Petsyukh.
Rohit T. “Rit” Aggarwala
New York City Chief Climate Officer
Commissioner, New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Rohit T. “Rit” Aggarwala was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the City’s Chief Climate Officer in February 2022. Under his leadership, DEP has embraced a leadership role on both stormwater and coastal resilience, streamlined its procurement processes to be able to invest more money in infrastructure each year, and improved DEP’s water revenues by reducing accounts receivable and delivering revenues $250 million above budget in his first year. As Chief Climate Officer, he also led the development of New York City’s most recent sustainability plan, PlaNYC.
Prior to the Adams administration, Aggarwala served as the first Director of the New York City Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, where he led the creation of the first PlaNYC. He later founded the environmental grantmaking program at Bloomberg Philanthropies and served as president of the Board of Directors of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. He was part of the founding team at Sidewalk Labs—Google’s urban technology startup—and more recently was a senior urban tech fellow at the Jacobs Cornell-Technion Institute. He has co-chaired the Regional Plan Association’s Fourth Regional Plan for the New York metropolitan area and is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. Aggarwala holds a PhD, MBA, and BA from Columbia University and an MA from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Jeanne Gang, FAIA
Founding Principal and Partner
Jeanne Gang, FAIA, is the founding principal and partner of Studio Gang, an international architecture and urban design practice headquartered in Chicago. Known for an inquisitive, forward-looking approach to design that unfolds new technical and material possibilities and expands the active role of designers in society, she creates striking places that connect people with each other, their communities, and the environment.
Her diverse, award-winning portfolio includes cultural centers that convene diverse audiences, public projects that connect citizens with ecology, and high-rise towers that foster community—notably the Solar Carve Tower, the Fire Rescue 2 Facility in Brooklyn, and the recently completed Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History, which the New York Times called “a poetic, joyful, theatrical work of public architecture.” Ongoing projects throughout the Americas and Europe include the new United States Embassy in Brasília; the University of Chicago’s European hub for study and research in Paris; Stanford University’s Sustainability Commons in Palo Alto; and the new O’Hare Global Terminal in Chicago.
Intertwined with built work, Gang and the Studio also develop research, publications, and exhibitions that push design’s ability to create public awareness and give rise to change—a practice Gang calls “actionable idealism.” The most recent monograph of her Studio’s work, Studio Gang: Architecture, was published by Phaidon in both English and French.
A MacArthur Fellow and a Professor in Practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Gang has been honored with the ULI Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development and been named one of the most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.
Jolie Andler Milstein
President & CEO
New York State Association for Affordable Housing
Jolie Milstein is president and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, the largest affordable housing trade group in the country, and serves as a housing expert and leading advocate for policies on matters that advance the industry. Through partnerships with agency, elected and corporate leaders, Milstein has helped transform NYSAFAH into the foremost voice on housing issues in both New York City and State.
Milstein is a strong proponent of supply-side solutions to solve the housing crisis and has helped drive successful public policy efforts and long-term financing efforts, like New York’s five-year housing plan. Her advocacy work was critical to maintaining funding levels for city and state housing programs and the establishment of the Council for Independent State Housing Associations (CISHA) in Washington, D.C.
Prior to her work at NYSAFAH, Milstein developed permanent supportive housing at Praxis Housing Initiatives, served as executive director of the Ulster County Development Corporation, and as senior director for economic development at the New York City Partnership. Milstein has vast corporate experience as a commercial and residential investment banker at First Boston Corporation and as project architect at the architecture firm of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects.
Milstein is a licensed architect with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from University of California Berkeley, a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California Los Angeles, and a master’s degree of public and private management from Yale University.
The Legacy of Joan K. Davidson and the J.M. Kaplan Fund
Joan K. Davidson (1927–2023), a native of New York City and State, long worked for, supported, and guided non-profit and government programs to save buildings, support cultural institutions, and restore landmarks in New York. She made a lasting mark as President of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, an instrumental organization for those seeking grants for the betterment of the natural and built environment, the arts, and civil liberties.
Davidson received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University and a postgraduate degree from Bank Street College of Education. From 1977–1993, she steered the J.M. Kaplan Fund, a multigenerational philanthropic organization which addressed issues related to architecture and historic preservation, design, and quality of life. She managed the creation of Westbeth Artist’s Community as its first President, and laid the groundwork for the Gracie Mansion Conservancy, among other ventures.
In 1995, Davidson founded Furthermore grants in publishing as a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund. Furthermore supports publication of nonfiction books pertaining to art, history, and the natural and built environment. In addition to her leadership here, she established the Alice Award, an annual prize for illustrated books, in 2013. In 2022 she instituted the Carriage House events program at Midwood, her property in the Hudson River Valley.
Davidson had also served as Chair at the New York State Council on the Arts, Commissioner at the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Chair at the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission. She lived in Manhattan and the Hudson Valley.
Katherine Menjivar, BArch, Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture
Katherine R. Menjivar is a driven architecture student at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture. She has been awarded the NAWIC 2019 Competition and will continue to apply herself through design. Menjivar is committed to developing settings that meet utilitarian needs and raise human connection and well-being, guided by a tireless curiosity and a desire to reimagine spatial experiences. Menjivar’s ambition is to create cities and landscapes that serve as examples of inventiveness and creativity. As an active student of the City College of New York, when she is not immersed in studio projects, you can find her with CCNY Green Beekeepers, at a volleyball match, running events with the Student Government, and collaborating with fellow students. Every moment fuels Menjivar’s drive to learn and create, and she is excited to translate this energy into my future architectural endeavors.
Sofia Mercado, BArch, The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Sofia 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.
Olena Petsyukh, MArch, The New School Parsons School of Design
Olena 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. But that’s not where her creative pursuits began—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. She views these challenges not as problems but as opportunities to effect positive change by asking the right questions and striving to translate the most innovative answers into action. This passion came to life in her latest group project at The New School, where the challenge of creating affordable housing for refugees from Ukraine was undertaken.
When she’s not immersed in blueprints and models, you’ll likely find her on the move. She’s an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and soaking in the artistry of the world’s museums. Additionally, she was a former member of the Ukrainian National Rhythmic Gymnastics Team, holding the title of a Ukrainian champion, and proudly claiming victory in various international tournaments. That experience has instilled in her the values of discipline, grace, and the beauty of movement—a philosophy that resonates through Petsyukh’s architectural projects.