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6 min read

Supporting City Tech's Building Blocks Benefit

Supporting City Tech's Building Blocks Benefit

The Existing Conditions team had the pleasure of donating to and sponsoring City Tech’s first-ever annual Building Blocks Benefit. Our team was blown away by the extraordinary talent, and we are happy to support the next generation of architects. Taking place at Voorhees Hall, the event was attended by a large audience.

Our Affiliation with City Tech

Our connection to City Tech is twofold. One aspect of this connection is through the AIA Brooklyn, an AIA chapter with which Existing Conditions is an annual partner. The other aspect is through some of our team members who are alumni of the college.

The event was co-sponsored by AIA Brooklyn because it aligns with the organization's commitment to support and care for its community, especially those who require extra assistance. This includes students and facilities at City Tech. AIA Brooklyn is associated with the Brooklyn Architects Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by architects in Brooklyn to provide scholarships to deserving architecture students in New York City attending an accredited architecture program. The chapter values taking care of each other and this event is a reflection of that.

Existing Conditions' Jesus Bravo, Operations Director, Endirichard Jolalpa, Project Manager and New York City Drone Captain, Kelvin Jolalpa, Field Operations, and Amadu Jalloh, Field Operations, studied and graduated from City Tech. Voorhees Hall houses both the architecture and engineering programs and it was interesting for our team to visit and see old professors and students, as well as other alumni.

(Left to Right) Carrie Mendoza, City Tech Student; Lindsay Smilow, Executive Director of AIA Brooklyn; Sarah Drake, 2023 President of AIA Brooklyn. (Image by the Department of Architectural Technology)


A Journey Down Memory Lane

On his visit, Jesus encountered several professionals he knew from his time at City Tech and it was nice to have conversations and rekindle memories of the time they spent together as students. They reminisced about the late nights spent working on projects and the camaraderie they shared as students. It was a nice reminder of the close-knit community that City Tech has and how it continues to bring people together, even after graduation. Overall, the visit was a great opportunity for Jesus to reconnect with old friends, colleagues, and mentors and to see the impact of City Tech on their lives and careers.

The Purpose of Our Donation

As part of our commitment to spread the use of technology among the next generation of architects and current architecture students, Existing Conditions recently donated to the Building Blocks event. Several members of our company are alumni of City Tech, and we also have a great partnership with AIA Brooklyn.

City Tech's Department of Architectural Technology is expanding its architectural degrees, including an associate degree, a bachelor's of technology degree, and a brand new Bachelor of Architecture degree program. This new program provides students with an accredited degree and the opportunity to jumpstart their careers as architects.

Given our close relationship with City Tech and AIA Brooklyn, it was a natural fit for Existing Conditions to support the effort to expand architectural education and opportunities for students. Our donation to the City Tech Department of Architectural Technology is a demonstration of our commitment to the future of the architectural industry and the success of the next generation of architects.

City Tech Collateral. (Image by the Department of Architectural Technology)


Experiencing City Tech’s Building Blocks Benefit

Our attendance at the Building Blocks event offered a glimpse into the heart of architectural education at City Tech. In addition to welcoming guests and showcasing a wide range of projects, students acted as hosts and displayed a variety of projects, including the first design studios, as well as more specialized studios related to facade technology, parametric design, or 3D printing, up to thesis and capstone projects.

The Building Blocks event provided a hands-on and informative experience, showcasing the hard work and creativity of the students at City Tech's Department of Architectural Technology. It was a fitting tribute to the dedication and investment in the future of the architectural industry.

We were able to tour the building and explore the support spaces available to students, such as the fabrication lab with its cutting-edge tools and machines, and the classroom spaces where students collaborate on group projects. Endi also was able to reconnect with his past professor, Professor Beita who demonstrated virtual reality tools at the technology incubator.

Jared Curtis (left) on a student-led tour. (Image by the Department of Architectural Technology)


1. The Virtual Reality Space

One of the highlights of the event was the demonstration of an architectural model created in Virtual Reality (VR) using the Oculus VR glasses. The hardware was easy to use, with two analog sticks allowing us to move through the model and explore its features in detail.

We were impressed by the comparison of real-life and virtual representations, and we believe VR technology has great potential for the future of architecture. Endi was excited to try something new and appreciated the opportunity to connect with professors and form a tighter partnership in the future.

Ultimately, our visit to City Tech was a valuable experience, giving us a glimpse into the innovative technology being used in architectural education and the potential for closer partnerships in the future. At Existing Conditions, we aim to be a valuable resource to the City Tech Department of Architectural Technology. Our goal is to support the education and development of the next generation of architects through our expertise and technology. Whether it be through guest lecturing or conducting workshops, we are eager to share our knowledge and skills with the students, such as teaching the basics of 3D laser scanning. We believe that our collaboration with City Tech can help further the use of technology in architecture and enhance the educational experience of its students.

Endi testing the virtual reality station.


2. Keynote Presentation

Katie Swenson, Senior Principle of MASS Design Group delivered a memorable keynote presentation. One aspect of the presentation that stuck with Jared Curtis, President of Existing Conditions is that Katie mentioned how she had always aspired to be a “community architect." Her idea of becoming a community architect and what defined her as an architectural designer was working with teams of professionals to do real community development work, focusing on justice, human dignity, and human rights.

In 2020, Katie moved to MASS Design Group, a global architecture firm prioritizing community development, after working for Enterprise Community Partners, a non-profit developer focused on affordable housing and community building. MASS Design Group prioritizes the vision of being a community architect and works on projects all over the world with a community development focus. Katie's approach to architecture goes beyond designing structures. She strives to create a positive community and positive societal outcomes, such as improved health, by considering the complexities of development.

Katie has a strong focus on sustainability, combining community support with eco-friendly practices. She previously taught at the Boston Architectural College, showcasing her academic background. Additionally, she is an accomplished author and skilled public speaker, comfortable in front of a diverse audience. In conclusion, Katie delivered an uplifting speech that motivated and inspired the audience.

Katie Swenson’s keynote presentation. (Image by the Department of Architectural Technology)


3. Student-Led Tours

The student-led tours and the dedication that the students put into each project are clear indications of the high level of ambition present within the school. This makes it well-deserved for the school to finally have an accredited  Bachelor of Architecture program. The baseline that the students are starting from in terms of quality and rigor is already at a very impressive level. The establishment of this program is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the students and the recognition of their achievements. The Bachelor of Architecture program will provide the students with a formal education that aligns with their ambitions and will help them reach their full potential in the field of architecture.

Student-led tour. (Image by the Department of Architectural Technology)


Building Partnerships with Academic Organizations in New York and Brooklyn

The focus on building partnerships with academic organizations, particularly those in New York and Brooklyn, is important due to the concentration of the Existing Conditions team in the area. The goal is to continue to develop these partnerships and become increasingly involved in the future. This could take the form of sponsorship, participation as a member, or any other academic capacity that may arise. City Tech’s Building Blocks Benefit program has a strong emphasis on technology and is housed alongside the engineering and architectural technology programs, making it an ideal fit for a team with extensive technical knowledge and expertise. As a result, the team is excited about the potential for partnerships with academic institutions in New York and Brooklyn and is committed to contributing to their success.

“I work with the City Tech Foundation, the private fundraising arm of the college. Through my work, I have a daily front-row view of the talent, professionalism, and passion the ArchTech team brings to the classroom every day. Their aspirations for their students are limitless, and their advocacy on their behalf is impressive. I was prepared for an enjoyable experience on December 1st, but the 4-5 students who toured the facilities with me throughout the evening nevertheless surprised me as they thoughtfully walked me through their creative process, their concerns for the built environment as it impacts the planet, and design functionality. Their poise, good humor, and obvious talent struck me as somewhat beyond their years. I was riveted by their obvious joy in the learning process and what seemed to me something of a happy surprise at having discovered their secret power and future path. If these students are our future, we might just have a shot at making this world right” - Beth Farryn Levine, Executive Director of the City Tech Foundation.

Are you interested in donating to the Building Blocks fundraiser? Click here to learn more about your donation options.

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