We are pleased to welcome Ben Prosky, Executive Director of AIA New York and the Center for Architecture, to the AAO Board of Directors. Ben has been a leader in the curation and development of architecture-related programming both in the United States and internationally, and his work revolves around communicating the importance of design to broad audiences. Read more about his work and vision for AAO below.
1. For our members who haven't met you, please briefly describe yourself.
I am a native New Yorker, raised in Brooklyn--before it was hip! I have devoted my career to architecture, focused mostly around curation and outreach. My education is based in urban studies and planning: I began my career in Paris, France, working on architecture exhibits at the Institut francais d’architecture. From there I went to work at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal, heading up their public programs and competitions. (And yes, by now I am fluent in French!) Since then, I've worked in higher education, at both Columbia and Harvard Universities, managing communications and public programming for each university’s architecture school. Presently, I am leading the American Institute of Architects New York chapter (AIA New York) and the Center for Architecture, where we focus on both professional and cultural work that endeavors to teach about the value of design.
2. As a way to get to know you, what are you working on now or what recent projects would you like to share with our readers?
I am very excited about few large projects which are the culmination of several years of work and preparation. The Center for Architecture and AIA New York have recently launched the Zero Waste Design Guidelines (www.zerowastedesign.org). These guidelines, written in collaboration with the NYC Department of Sanitation, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, show how the design of buildings and processes can help us reduce our waste through recycling and composting programs, with the goal of sending zero waste to landfills. I am also pleased to announce an exhibition opening in fall 2018, Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, which looks at the spaces, buildings, and environments that embody the creative energy evident in hip-hop’s first four elements: deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti. Additionally this fall, we will prepare for another edition of ARCHTOBER, our month long architecture festival, featuring events and tours organized by over 70 partner organizations across NYC. And the Center for Architecture’s K-12 educational programs, both at our facility and at schools, are working to expand to serve more diverse constituencies.
3. Tell us about the skills and expertise that you bring to the AAO Board.
With a background in urban studies and urban planning, I have been immersed in the built environment throughout my education and career. I have a particular interest in outreach, helping a range of institutions--from professional associations and design firms, to cultural institutions and design schools--reach and cultivate new audiences. Whether through the curation of innovative programs and exhibitions, or co-creating new tools, such as ARCHITIZER, the first professional and social networking website for architects, I have continually devised ways to communicate the importance of design to broad audiences. I hope to continue this impactful work and find ways to exchange ideas with colleagues in the growing network that AAO is cultivating.
4. What excites you most about AAO?
For me, the most exciting part of this network is the realization of just how many people, in organizations large and small, are working to make the world a better place through design projects and education. It is fantastic to learn from people across the US, and increasingly internationally, how they are advocating for design in their institutions, towns and cities. I am also pleased to be able to travel to member facilities to discover new design centers and see how they have become resources to both designers and the general public.
5. What impact do you hope to see AAO achieve by the end of your board term?
I think that AAO will continue to expand its resources and make more connections through its growing network, making it an invaluable investment for its member organizations. I hope to help AAO cultivate a new generation of design thinkers and educators, who are working in a range of design related fields. I also hope to expand AAO’s A+DEN network by offering more K-12 design program resources to members, and helping to make a case that design education should be considered an invaluable part of any curriculum and integrated into education at all levels.