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AIA New York to Change Conversation on Housing

New York, NY, January 24, 2014 --( As the city shifts its focus to housing in 2014, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is set to lead the conversation. With planned programs that address the pressing issues facing New Yorkers, the chapter’s Housing Committee will promote dialogue about housing design and city policy. It intends to invite a variety of local and international experts to speak, including the city’s new deputy mayor for housing, Alicia Glen.

Starting in 2014, the committee is under new leadership: Fernando Villa, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, and Peter Bafitis, AIA, have been appointed committee co-chairs. Mr. Bafitis is principal of the New York architecture firm RKTB and Mr. Villa is associate principal of New York-based Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP). Their colleagues, principals Carmi Bee of RKTB and Magnus Magnusson of MAP, are previous chairs. Mr. Bafitis and Mr. Villa are housing experts who bring diverse perspectives.

The new co-chairs plan to give the committee an increased role in the conversation about housing by holding relevant educational events and tours that will engage members of the development community, construction industry, local government, and the public.

“I find residential design rewarding because it affects people significantly,” said Mr. Villa. “It’s an honor to lead the committee together with Peter, and we are excited to involve the greater architectural community in a discussion about all types of housing through our upcoming events.”

The committee plans to hold two major programs in the first half of 2014 that will address current issues. A panel discussion on waterfront housing on March 17 will highlight new developments, urban neighborhood creation, and resiliency.

“As a native New Yorker, I know that housing in this city faces specific challenges,” said Mr. Bafitis. “Fernando and I share a vision to promote dialogue about policy and emphasize excellence in multifamily residential design.”

To accomplish that end, the committee will look beyond the city’s boundaries. A conversation with three Spanish architects on May 29 will explore social housing policy in Spain, which is almost entirely ownership-based. This program will be the first in a series highlighting exemplary housing design around the world.

In addition to educational programming, the co-chairs plans to revive the Building Type Awards for multi-family housing, which have been inactive since 2010. The awards are co-sponsored by the Boston Society of Architects and the New York Chapter of the AIA and are given to projects in either Boston or New York.

About Magnusson Architecture and Planning

Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP) is an award-winning, full-service architecture and planning firm in New York City committed to sustainable development that builds vibrant, healthy communities. The firm’s specializations include housing, educational and community facilities, healthcare facilities, commercial developments, and community planning. MAP’s clients include community groups, agencies, municipalities, institutions, real estate developers, schools and non-profits in the New York City region, such as The Community Builders, Westhab, Inc., CPC Resources, Inc., Douglaston Development, The Housing Collaborative, and the Fifth Avenue Committee.

About RKTB

RKTB is an award-winning, full-service architecture and planning firm based in New York City. It was founded in 1963 by Bernard Rothzeid. Over the course of its 50-year history, the firm has developed specializations in affordable housing, educational facilities, adaptive re-use buildings, and performance spaces. It also created an innovative infill “Smart Housing” prototype that has renewed neighborhoods throughout New York by replacing vacant lots with affordable housing. The firm’s clients include CPC Resources, Inc., Artimus, Phipps Houses, the New York City School Construction Authority, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), and many of the city’s prominent housing developers.
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Beth Connolly

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