Monthly Archives: September 2012

Regional Director’s Report – October 2012

A Trip to the Mall

I am not a fan of the regional shopping mall, preferring to do most of my shopping in downtown West Orange or some at some of the surrounding urban/suburban neighboring communities.  Of course Macy’s (Bamberger’s to those who remember that great store in downtown Newark) was where I had to go for Marsha who is on the mend after spraining her ankle, to make a return of an item she bought, but did not want. The fact that OUR CanStruction Event was set up at the Livingston Mall made the trip that much easier for me to make!

I arrived early Saturday afternoon and noticed that the Mall’s parking lot looked to be fuller than other of the few times that I have had to go there.  I thought it must be the CanStruction buildings that were bringing out the crowds on this first and most beautiful day of fall?  After returning the item, I made my way to the locations of these wonderful creations, that when broken down will go to feed many of New Jersey’s hungry citizens through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

I eavesdropped as many of the shoppers with their children stopped by and was absolutely amazed at what the teams were able to construct.  Words I overheard were “fantastic, beautiful, what a GREAT idea” and the best from a little boy about the age of my granddaughter, who asked his mother, “how did they do that”?   One older woman was very impressed with the theme of this year’s competition, “Back to School” I did not ask, but she must have been a teacher and I saw her nod her head as she read about children that go to school hungry every day. I am sure that in her long career, she had more than a few hungry children in her classroom each and everyday.

For me as a national leader in OUR professional organization, I am super proud of all of the builds and the very creative skills, the teams showed, this year. However, the most amazing outcome of this event is in the saying “it starts with one can”  There were of course thousands, so they will go to help many of needy families in our communities. I want to take the time to personally thank Christey DiBartolo, AIA for leadership she showed in organizing and chairing this event, OUR 14th.

As I finish up this article, Marsha and I have just come from “Kids who Cook.” They are a group of youngsters from Columbia High School, who cooked a meal for about 50 adults. The event was sponsored by Morgan Stanley, with all of the proceeds (like ours) going to Community FoodBank of New Jersey. I was able to mention to the youngsters that CanStruction would be at the Livingston Mall through October 1st. By the time that we left the party, I was assured by one of these superb cooks that before the week was out they were going to take a trip to the mall!

Thank you,


[email protected]



The current state of the economy has a harmful effect on all Americans.  Our field of architecture is directly dependent upon an upward economy.  However, there is a reciprocal effect that architecture has on the economy.  Active architecture and construction indicate positive momentum in our country and our economy. As architects, our continuing work drives progression in America by inspiring people.  It lets people know that we are moving forward.  We can fuel this progression by grabbing the reigns of our profession and working together to bring in new business.

 Let me explain how I have come to these conclusions.

 As some of you may know, my office is located on the West Bank of the Hudson River in the city of North Bergen. I established my office at this location in 1980 solely because I love having a view of the water and of New York City. Picking a location based on a view is not necessarily the best business strategy, but I did it because I liked it. As artists, we need to be around what inspires us most.

Over the years I have witnessed some incredible things from my location on the Hudson River.  With wall to wall windows opening to a beautiful full view, I have always loved looking across into Manhattan and viewing the buildings along the river just above the 79th Street boat basin. I’ve seen the most incredible sunrises and the most beautiful sunsets with the golden sunlight reflecting into the water from the building fenestration. This has always been an inspiration to me.

I did all of my architectural education in New York and after finishing school I chose to practice in the New York City area. I didn’t want to be in the city: I wanted to be able to see the horizon and the entire City. In the three plus decades of working at this location I have seen a lot of beauty and tragedy. I recall the event of 9/11 as being the worst experience of all.  While the current recession is nowhere near as drastic as 9/11, it is still a tragedy nonetheless.

We have all be in the throes of this serious recession for years. I’ve experienced other recessions, but this is by far the worst.  When times were bad in the late 80’s, I would pray to God to inspire Alan Greenspan to lower the interest rates. My hopes being that this would allow construction to commence. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with him! Didn’t he realize this would fix everything for us architects? Had I known he was a professional jazz saxophone player, I would have tried to appeal to him as a fellow musician/artist to cut the rates to prevent our business from going under. However, even today as our interest rates are the lowest they’ve been ever, we are still in the economic doldrums.

My experience has taught me that the best economist in the world cannot predict where the economy is going, what was wrong with it, or how to fix it.  And even if they could, they cannot predict how the economy will affect architects.  Economics and economists remind me of the weatherman; the certainty of their outcomes is always limited.

Due to their consistent inconsistency, I began to rely on my own indicators to forecast the economy.  I do this based on how things appear on the horizon, literally. Looking out my window I can see as far north as the Riverside Church and far south into lower Manhattan.   I urge you to remember this:  construction cranes are an indicator of good things to come.  Therefore, I look forward to the presence of more cranes on the horizon.  The business in my office corresponds with my horizon, and more work comes in as more cranes go up.

9/11 shook everything in September 2001. The world as we knew it stopped. The eerie quiet of a clear sky with no air traffic was a deafening silence. There we were, all bunched up collecting in our sorrows and praying for the ones we lost in this tragedy. At that time, I took offense to the rapid, and popular, suggestion that we should quickly rebuild the World Trade Center. It seemed to me that it was too soon; I felt we were going to taunt the offenders with a new target for them to knock down again.  I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.

As it turns out, the rebuilding wasn’t so rapidly accomplished. It seems to me that the time it has taken was necessary for an American evolution.  We, as a people, had to be ready.  Now here we are, eleven years later, and the evolution of the Freedom Tower is glistening in the skyline; nearly three quarters finished. I see this very beautiful sleek and undulating tower every day on my way to my office and it is amazing.

I believe with all my heart that this is exactly what we, as a country, needed: something to energize our patriotic stimuli and engage us in that indefinable, intangible thrust to take us out of this economic slump. This will help hurl us into a new time in our lives, a time of encouragement and vitality.  I believe that it is the unique power of Architecture and Design: the ability for architects and designers to inspire and bring pulsating rhythm back to this country and to us all.  Architecture is our profession.  Let’s work together to keep it strong and let’s keep it ours.

Laurence E. Parisi, AIA


GLORIOUS WEATHER COMBINED WITH A WONDERFUL AND INFORMATIVE DAY WAS HAD BY ALL.  If you missed it, sorry… register early next year!  here is a glimpse of what took place.

By: Laurence Parisi, AIA

Nearly 200 AIA-NJ Member Architects and students decended on the Asbury Park Boardwalk to attend another fabulous DESIGN DAY at the  JerseyShore……..Hosted by Chairman Stephen Carlidge, AIA and Co-Chairwoman Laura Slomka.

The event as schedule included three great speakers from prominent architectural firms, an exciting walking tour of the Asbury Park Boardwalk restoration and the Design Day Competition where  a total of 88 design boards submitted by AIA-NJ architects for the jurors to select the best designs. We enjoyed a meet and greet breakfast, lunch and an early evening  cocktail reception with great food and drinks.

Anselm Fusco, RA, who works with the Asbury Park Redevelopment Agency led architects on a walking tour of the Boardwalk. As we toured Mr. Fusco lectured on the critical points and restraints of the reconstruction of these essential ocean front buildings for the Asbury Park restoration.  A couple of the tour highlights were the Paramount Theater and the Asbury Park Convention Hall.

The first speaker was Willian Loose, AIA  a partner with the firm of Bohlin, Cywinski & Jackson.  Mr. Loose gave a tremendous talk about the residential work their firm does. Considering that the majority of the NJ firms attending the design conference do mostly residential work, he focused on their residential projects.  Walking us through several of their projects, He discussed their intense level of sensitivity and detail they embrace in their relations with their clients.  Reiterating the importance of the site selections and how they analyze all aspects of approach and orientation with the client. This was an emotional and heart felt talk, when discussing one client in particular Mr. Loose was actually choked up in his recollection of the sensitive nature between client and architect.  Something for us all to embrace and consider in our daily practice.

The second speaker was Charles Renfro partner with the firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.  Their firm’s work centers on theatrical projects including the reformation of the Lincoln Center entrance and designs at the Highline Pavilion in lower Manhattan.  Renfro’s energized talk embellished the integration of the Theater the performing arts and architecture.   This was a supercharged and exciting approach to architecture.

The third and keynote speaker was Stephen Kieran, FAIA senior partner with the firm of Kieran Timberlake out of Philadelphia.   The interesting aspect of his lecture is the dynamic technical approach their firm takes toward sustainability.  They are actually doing in house research and development for building modeling systems toward achieving high levels of sustainable structures.   I spoke with Mr. Kieran after his talk and asked, “Is this a departure for you to be so technically involved, seemingly born and bred in a designers world.”  He replied “yes, I worked for Venturi a major design firm and my whole career has been design oriented.” This is new and exciting area for him and the firm as a whole. Certainly this was an inspiration for the architects of AIA-NJ.

The winners of the Design Awards announced at the conference included Marchetto, Higgins and Stieve, a Hoboken, N.J.; the Princeton, N.J. office of HDR, a global architecture, engineering, consulting and construction firm; Shore Point Architects, an architectural design firm based in Ocean Grove, N.J.; Studio Hillier, a Princeton, N.J.-based architecture, planning and design firm; Marina Rubina Architect, a sole proprietor based in Princeton, N.J.; Beyer, Blinder & Belle Architects & Planners, a New York City-based architectural firm specializing in historic preservation, urban design, planning and transportation, in conjunction with STV, a New York City-based architectural, engineering, planning environmental and construction management services firm; ikon.5 architects, a Princeton, N.J.-based architecture and design firm; and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  We will celebrate their honors and awards at our annual “Design Awards Dinner” in January 2013.  We look forward to seeing you there.

AIA South Jersey Annual Members Meeting

Business Seminar for Architects

Register now for The Business of Architecture.  A seminar hosted by AIA-NJ on October 25, 2012, at the Somerset Holiday Inn.

“I highly recommend that every architect attend this vital and informative seminar. This will strengthen your business savvy, win desirable commissions, and improve profitability.”

– Laurence Parisi, President AIA-NJ 

Keynote address:…………….Philip Kennedy-Grant, FAIA, Kennedy-Grant Architecture
Ethics in Architecture……………………..Larry Powers, Esq., Hoagland Longo Attorneys
“Success Factors for a Winning Practice”……….Steve Whitehorn, Whitehorn Financial
“Strategic Competitive Pathways”……..Frank Mruk, AIA, RIBA, Assoc. Dean NYIT SOA
Client Alignment/ Project Selection………………………………………………Steve Whitehorn
Saying “No” – Setting Expectations, Delegations…………………………..Steve Whitehorn
Budgets……………………………………………………………Kirby Wu, AIA, Wu & Associates
Cash Flow…………..Andy Harmelin, Credit and Collections specialist/Steve Whitehorn
The Confidence SystemTM……………………………………………………………Steve Whitehorn
Relationships: The Key to your Future Success………………………………Steve Whitehorn
Your Firm’s Future/ Succession Planning……………………………………..Steve Whitehorn

Full day  –   7.5 AIA CEU Credits

Date: October 25, 2012
Registration: 8:15a.m.
Start: 8:45 a.m.
End: 4:15 p.m.
Cost: $120 – AIA Member
$150 – Non-Member


Somerset Holiday Inn

195 Davidson Avenue
Somerset, New Jersey 08873

2012 AIA-NJ Service Award Recipients

The 2012 AIA-NJ Service Award recipients were announced at this years Design Conference.  Congratulations to the following:

Distinguished Service Award:  Stephen Carlidge
Resident of the Year:  Chanta Jackson
Young Architect of the Year:  April Horvath
Intern Architect of the Year:  Sarah Wolosin
Architect of the Year:  Rick Tokarski
Firm of the Year:  Spiezle Architectural Group

AIAThe awards will be presented at the 2013 Dinner to be held January 2, 2013, at the Lobster Shanty in Point Pleasant.

CANstruction 2012 Build Day

AIA-NJ Newark and Suburban hosted the 14th annual CANstruction Build Day today at the Livingston Mall in Livingston, NJ.

View pictures taken during the build from the Star Ledger on

After todays eight-hour “Build Day”, the structures will be judged tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 21, at an awards gala.  Find out details to attend the free awards and gala event.  The structures will remain on display at the mall through Oct. 1.

The theme of this year’s competition is “Back to School.” The event is held under the auspices of the Society for Design Administration, a national professional organization affiliated with the AIA.

“Every year we look forward to this event, at which architects can show off their creativity while helping the community,” said Christy DiBartolo, chair of the New Jersey event. “Through Canstruction, we provide for people in need of hunger relief while showcasing the talents of the architecture profession in a unique and worthwhile way.”

The New Jersey exhibition is part of a national AIA-sponsored event that calls upon teams of architects, engineers, contractors and designers, as well as students mentored by these professionals, to design and build 10-by-10-by-8-foot-high structures made entirely from canned food.

Participating firms are responsible for obtaining the cans used in their structures, which involves soliciting donations from food manufacturers, supermarkets, clients, family and friends. At the conclusion of the weeklong exhibition, the cans are donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ) for distribution to community food programs.

CFBNJ distributes more than 39 million pounds of food and groceries a year, ultimately serving 1,500 nonprofit programs, including 436 programs served by its partner distribution organizations. The combined efforts of these nonprofit programs assist more than 900,000 people in 18 New Jersey counties.

This will be the 14th year for the design competition in New Jersey. Last year, seven New Jersey teams comprised of architects and engineers used over 44,000 cans of food to build structures based on designs that took months to conceptualize.

Since the founding of Canstruction, over 17.5 million pounds of food have been donated to community food banks to aid in the fight against hunger. Initiated by the Denver, Seattle and New York chapters of the SDA in 1992-1993, Canstruction had more than 130 individual competitions take place during the 2011/2012 cycle. In that cycle alone, Canstruction gathered 3,419,885 pounds of food, enough for 1,500,000 meals.

Join AIA West Jersey for a Day in Cape May

AIA members, families and friends are all welcome to spend a day with AIA West Jersey in Historic Cape May, N.J.  On Saturday September 29th the group is meeting at the Emlen Physick Estate (designed by Philadelphia architect Frank Furness) for a house tour at 10:00am followed by a trolley tour through the historic district. The afternoon is open to allow time to explore around town on your own. Choose to sit on the beach, photograph Victorian Architecture, shop at the Washington Street Mall, visit the restored lighthouse or any of the unique antique shops. Enjoy lunch at one of the finest restaurants in NJ or you a free to take part in the annual Octoberfest celebration on Jackson Street. AIA members will receive 2LU’s by participating in the tours. The cost is $18.00/person.

At 3:00pm the Cape May Winery is offering tours and tastings of their award winning winery. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth for $20/person.   Order tickets ahead of time by calling 609-884-5404. End your day with us for relaxation and conversation on the terrace of the winery and enjoy a barrel-tasting accompanied by fruit and cheese.

Estate and trolley tour reservations are limited. Please contact Jim Del Grosso, AIA at 609-923-0346 or [email protected]  to reserve a spot on the tour.  Space is still available call or email today.

CANstruction On Display at Livingston Mall

It starts with one can, to feed the hungry, to lift the spirit, to change the world.  Canstruction is a charity committed to ending hunger, using “one can” as a catalyst for change.  Every month, over 500,000 New Jerseyans access hunger reflief programs supported by the Community Food Bank of NJ.  New Jersey’s design/build competition puts a visual spotlight on hunger while showcasing the state’s best and brightest designers.  

2012 Theme – “Back to School!”

Displays and Award Ceremony at Livingston Mall

Friday, September 21

Light Food and Drink.  No Registration Required.

Award Ceremony is in the Center Court outside Lord & Taylor. Doors open at 6:30, award presentation at 7:00.

For more information –

2012 Photography Competition Voting

2011 winner Serpentine Movement by Ben Nicolson

The AIA West Jersey has opened up public voting for the 2012 Photography Competition.

The 7th Annual AIA West Jersey Photography Competition had a number of outstanding images submitted to this years event.  A panel of  jurors narrowed the submissions to the top entries.   These selected entries are being included in a public voting round that is now open.

The public round will choose the top award winners of the competition and the 13 finalists that will be printed in the 2013 wall calendar.   We need your vote.  Go to the following website to make your choice for the Best Overall image.

Voting ends Monday, October 8, 2012.  Have your vote included.  Share the link.