Credit: Andy J. Scott
Michael Pyatok, FAIA
Principal and Founder, Pyatok Architects
During his fourth year at Pratt Institute, Mike Pyatok and his classmates boycotted their classes and shut down the School of Architecture. “We wanted to learn something more relevant,” says Pyatok, who grew up in nearby industrial Brooklyn with a single mother who was on welfare until he was six. “Watching the factory [in my neighborhood close] while learning about the Medicis, the Pope—there was such dissonance there.” After getting his M.Arch. from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Pyatok completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Helsinki, where he embraced the importance of social housing. Five years later, he was on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis when Pruitt-Igoe was detonated. “A shocking event,” he says, which only solidified his commitment to public housing. Since founding his Oakland, Calif.–based firm in 1984, he has designed over 35,000 affordable-housing units in the U.S.
Credit: Noah Kalina
Chief Librarian and Executive Director, District of Columbia Public Library
The day after a fire gutted the Georgetown Public Library in Washington, D.C., Ginnie Cooper walked inside. “It was amazing to see that space, the light coming in,” she says. Under her direction, local firm Martinez + Johnson transformed the interior from “a rabbit’s warren of odd shelving” into a luminous, open plan. Since Cooper’s arrival from the Brooklyn Public Library, in 2006, she has spearheaded three other historic restorations, as well as 10 tear-down renovations, including two by David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA. Next up, says Cooper, is an overhaul of the system’s long-neglected central branch, the Mies-designed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. “Looking at it, I love it as I love the Seagram building,” says Cooper, whose office is on the fourth floor. “I live in it, though, and I have to deal with the elevators, the asbestos, the heating, the single-pane windows.” She sighs. “But I know we can make it a wonderful building.”
Steven Spurlock, FAIA (chair) Wnuck Spurlock Architecture, Washington, D.C.; James Binkley, FAIA Reston, Va.; Brian F. Cavanaugh, AIA Architecture Building Culture, Portland, Ore.; Aisha Densmore-Bey, Assoc. AIA Aisha Densmore-Bey, Designer, Boston; Lonnie Hoogeboom, AIA Houston Downtown Management District, Houston