15 JUNE 2010: SUSAN DOBAN, AIA, COCHAIR OF CHAMBER RED COMMITTEE, DISCUSSES BUILDING BROOKLYN AWARDS TENTH ANNIVERSARY
BROOKLYN, NY—July 15, 2010— In her message in the Brooklyn Chamber’s Building Brooklyn Awards Journal, Susan Doban, CEO of Doban Architecture and the multidisciplinary design studio, Think Fabricate, highlighted the changes over the past ten years and looked to the next ten with optimism.
“It’s hard to imagine, because after all it’s ‘only’ been ten short years, but many places now considered ‘Brooklyn institutions’ were brand new or didn’t even exist when the first Building Brooklyn Awards ceremony was held. The Brooklyn Marriott hotel was only two years old, and Fairway Market was only for those doing grocery shopping on Manhattan’s upper west side. Even Steiner Studios, where we gather tonight, did not exist, so we probably wouldn’t have envisioned having a celebration like this in the Navy Yard at the time. Back then, talking about what “might” some day be built ‘in Brooklyn, if you can believe it’, and who might design it, was starting to become a popular past time,” Doban wrote.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the annual event which celebrates a panel judged array of building projects representing the best of Brooklyn in construction and renovations from the past year. In addition to giving awards to ten winning projects, the Chamber of Commerce will also honor two individuals – David Kramer, principal of the Hudson Companies, and Joe Chan, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. The judging panel consists of ten Brooklyn-based architects, planners, economic development experts and city officials who have chosen the projects based on design excellence, positive economic impact, enhancing neighborhood services and amenities, context to the surrounding community, and sustainability.
She added that, “During the decade that followed the first awards ceremony, many of our cultural institutions were revitalized, including the Brooklyn Historical Society with its renovation and the Brooklyn Museum with its new entrance, both previously recognized with Building Brooklyn awards. We became accustomed to seeing new construction, seemingly ‘all over the place,’ including high rise residential and many new educational projects, many of which have been recognized by the Chamber in these categories over the years. And we saw Joe Chan, a key player in the first BBA, now of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and David Kramer of the Hudson Companies, tonight’s honorees, reach the stature they enjoy today in Brooklyn’s real estate development community.”
“Perhaps it was recognition of how far we have come, but also a yearning to strive and envision the best possible future, that this year a more finely-tuned set of criteria was adopted by the judging panel, “ Doban said. “ Of course, overall design excellence was weighted most heavily,
but specific criteria were established in other important areas as well. It is in many ways reflective of our time, that sustainability and economic impact were singled out as specific criteria. Another new criteria this year was ‘Brooklynness’, and defining this sparked some interesting discussion. “
Jason Gorsline, Design Director of Think Fabricate, and a partner in the company, also served as a judge for the event’s design jury, along with: Domenic Abatiello of National Grid, Meta Brunzema of Pratt Institute, Teresa Byrne, AIA of The American Institue of Architects (AIA) Brooklyn Chapter, Brendan Coburn, AIA of Coburn Architecture PC, Perla Delson of Delson or Sherman Architects PC, Michael Kaye of Douglaston Development, Carlos Menchaca from the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, Justin Moore of the New York City Department of City Planning, Brooklyn Planning Office, and John Parkinson of Urban Land Institute (ULI) New York.
Doban addressed the topic of Brooklynness further, which had been discussed during the awards jury. “More than merely a location, but having a lot to do with place, it seems that Brooklynness is both constant and changing; that the Brooklyn we know today is different from the one of ten years ago, but retains certain key characteristics. What is the essence of Brooklyn and how does it manifest itself in BBA winners? Some have said that it’s a certain pluckiness, an attitude. Some have said it’s the elevation and even restoration of that which was formerly old or neglected, be it an object taken from a dumpster or a brownstone restored to life. It can even be the melding of diverse cultural and individual perspectives coming together in a unique place on earth. “
She further stated that “This year’s award winners exhibit the full range of these definitions of Brooklynness. From the pluckiness of Congregation Beth Elohim, restoring one building and
about to embark on an ambitious master plan for their entire facility, to the IAVI Design and Development Laboratory co-developed by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, to Brooklyn Bowl, the transformation of an iron works into a popular entertainment destination–these representative projects speak to that which makes this a place that respects its past and looks to envision a promising future on many levels. “
She concluded by saying that, “Just as ten years ago it was difficult to envision the “today” which is familiar to us all, it is now impossible to imagine what the next ten years will bring. I would like to think, though, that that by building upon the foundation of our essential Brooklynness, the next ten years will be as exciting as the decade just passed, and will reflect the commitment to design excellence in all respects, to sustainability, positive economic impact, and all that makes Brooklyn special that we honor here tonight.”
Susan G. Doban, AIA, is CEO of Doban Architecture and Think Fabricate, LLC. She is a vice chair of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of its Real Estate Development (RED) Committee.
About Doban Architecture and Think Fabricate
Doban Architecture, founded in 1996 by Susan G. Doban, AIA, is a Brooklyn-based architecture firm with award winning projects in the areas of educational, residential, and economic development. Our multidisciplinary design studio, Think Fabricate, LLC, provides expertise in furniture, product, graphic, industrial design; design research; and a fabrication shop. Together, we design solutions for living, learning, and community.
Our common ground is commitment to teamwork, research, and an on-going exploration of function, detail, and character in our work. We are proud to bring the human element, genuineness, appreciation of material, and the inclusive spirit that grows from our Brooklyn roots to the process and design of all our projects. Our three initiatives, THINK LIVING, THINK EDUCATE, and THINK MAINSTREETS, organize our focus in the areas of architecture and products for residential, educational, and community development.
Doban Architecture is a Brooklyn-based architectural firm focused on historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and new construction for commercial, residential, and educational projects. In New Rochelle, the firm has created Façade Improvement Design Guidelines book using the Model Block project as a test case, and has designed more than ten projects on Main Street, including an award-winning Culinary Arts Center and two dormitories for Monroe College.
In Brooklyn, the firm designed 45 apartments above Fairway market, in a 230,000 square foot Civil War era Red Hook building. The project received the Municipal Art Society of New York’s Masterwork Award for Best Neighborhood Catalyst in May 2007 and a 2007 Building Brooklyn Award from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. The firm has worked on more than 60 capital improvement projects for the New York City School Construction Authority, including many exterior modernization and restoration projects.
Think Fabricate projects currently include custom furnishings for the new Academic Center and other projects at Monroe College, as well as custom furniture design for several residential projects, which they are working on in collaboration with Doban Architecture. Think Fabricate introduced a collection of furniture designed and fabricated in Brooklyn using sustainable materials, wood, and a combination of bright colors, historical motifs and modern forms in spring 2010 at Brooklyn Designs.
More information about Doban Architecture and Think Fabricate, LLC, is available at 718-797-1041 or www.thinkfabricate.com.