The Center for Architecture, which since 2003 has seen its staff triple in size and now hosts approximately 2,000 visitors each week, is expanding to accommodate its growing numbers.
AIA New York announced Monday that its Greenwich Village offices and public center will expand to incorporate 2,000 square feet of adjacent storefront and sub-level space.
“What we’re trying to do by expanding and expanding next door is augmenting our meeting capacity first and foremost, recognizing that our staff is also squeezed into the space that was designed for a different organization – which is to say the AIA of a decade ago,” said the chapter’s executive director Rick Bell, FAIA.
The 10-year lease started Monday, and gives the AIA New York the right to penetrate the buildings’ shared wall, pending appeal to and approval by the city’s Department of Buildings, said Bell. He added that his office plans to work with New York-based Rogers Marvel Architects on the expansion and will host its first public event in the new space in early October.
In 2003, the chapter moved from its Uptown facility into the existing Greenwich Village building which they adapted to 12,000-net-usable square feet. The initial seven-person staff in that space has grown to 22 individuals. Although official plans for the new space are still in the works, Bell says, they will likely yield more office space, as well as increased flexibility in facilitating meetings, exhibitions, and other programs targeting the chapter’s 5,000 members in addition to other visitors to the center’s galleries and programs. The project’s cost has not yet been determined, according to AIA New York.
“Our  move downtown symbolized a reengagement with the historic life of the city in a historic neighborhood but also a neighborhood that’s been characterized forever as cutting-edge,” Bell says.
When exploring options for the new space, the board sought to remain nearby the existing office due to its proximity to the Village’s younger and arts-based environment, Bell says, adding that the move was necessary to improve the chapter’s current functionality.
“It’s not that they’re taking a risk,” says Bell of the board vote to expand, “but they’re expanding a facility in a time that sees retrenchment and treading water in a lot of other places – not just other civic and professional organizations but throughout the entire design and construction industry.”
Rick Bell, FAIA, is a member of ARCHITECT magazine’s Editorial Advisory Committee