Building Design Excellence From the Inside

SPONSORED POST: An average day at NYCHA for Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow Jae Shin ranges from chats about neighborhood activism to developing historic preservation criteria. 

This series follows the day-to-day lives of the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellows who are part of a premier fellowship in public interest design which places designers in community development organizations for three-year positions. Today’s post comes from Jae Shin, an architect and designer based at the New York City Housing Authority who is tasked with integrating design excellence and resident voices into the nation’s largest public housing owner and operator.

8:00 a.m.
First things first — caffeine, of course. I live in Newark, New Jersey. I moved here after architecture school and started my own urban design, planning and civic arts studio and proudly have become a part of Newark’s community of advocates and activists. This foundation played a big role in my decision to apply for the Rose Fellowship last year. My neighborhood cafe in Newark is a Brazilian bakery so I start my day with Galão, not a latte.

8:45 a.m.
I am at a cafe near City Hall for a breakfast meeting with Amy Sananman, executive director of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety, housed within the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. Today we’re quickly catching up to exchange design ideas for neighborhood activation.

9:50 a.m.
I head back to my office to get some work done on the upcoming August public roll-out of Design Guidelines for Rehabilitation of NYCHA Residential Buildings. The authority is updating its decades-old design guidelines for renovations and new construction, focusing on modern and efficient design, accessibility, appeal and safety. This is just one component of a 10-year strategic plan to rebuild, expand and preserve NYCHA’s public and affordable housing stock.

11:45 a.m.
A number of us from our office head down to a WeWork space on Broadway to meet with team members of organizations Terrapin and Community Solutions who are giving us a presentation on their recent collaborative work developing new models for sustainable affordable housing design. My role requires me to participate in the conversations on the leading edge of affordable housing design and then to bring them back to NYCHA.

1:00 p.m.
The fellows have biweekly conference calls to compare notes on our work, share strategies and build community. Today, instead of a big group call, we are paired with one other fellow to talk about takeaways from our recent the spring retreat in Boston. I am paired with Erick Rodriguez, a third-year fellow at BBC and DSCDO, two community development organizations in Cleveland. He gives me a perspective on his three years in the fellowship — and how it took some time for the seeds he planted early in to grow into fruition. I sit in Zuccotti park while talking with him.

2:00 p.m.
I pick up some Vietnamese food from a favorite spot and head back to the office for more work on the design guidelines. I think I’ve become one of the restaurant’s favorites too — they always give me extra meat!

3:00 p.m.
My first meeting of the afternoon is an interdepartmental exchange huddle between Office of Design and Real Estate Services. We discuss a design review for a historic landmark design package we are preparing for one of our properties, Williamsburg Houses. Our design team is developing design standards to comply with historic preservation criteria while updating signage and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems for these busy storefronts in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

4:30 p.m.
And, on to the next one: a design team meeting for an upcoming peer review session for a community center addition. We are so excited that Gerri Smith and Hana Kassem from Kohn Pedersen Fox will be our reviewers for this project! NYCHA’s Office of Design is a team of over 70 architects and engineers providing services for NYCHA’s portfolio of over 2,550 residential buildings. I have been working with the leadership team intensely, day to day, since I first became a Rose Fellow. They have been such a welcoming team and I’m excited about what we are going to do together.

5:15 p.m.
I am off to East Village to see Tomoko. She’s been cutting my hair since 2001!

6:45 p.m.
Haircut is done! With less hair on my head, I need a snack. I get a red velvet cupcake with cheesecake frosting. Bernie and Hillary (cookies) are hanging out at the cupcake shop, too.

Both came to visit NYCHA communities during their primary campaign in New York, pledging to provide more federal funding for this largest public housing authority in the country. NYCHA Housing in New York provides home for over 400,000 people — that’s one in 16 New Yorkers!

I’m excited to use my skills as a designer to make those homes places that support such a significant part of this city, and buildings that build stronger communities.

To learn more about the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship and apply for the upcoming cohort by July 10, visit here.

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Tags: new york cityaffordable housing

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