2022 Architecture + Design Independent Projects Grant Recipients

In the first year of the League’s Independent Projects partnership with NYSCA, 18 design proposals were selected for grants of $10,000 each.

BlueCity Reef Garden is one of 18 proposals selected to receive an Independent Projects grant in 2022. Concept image by Gita Nandan and Elliott Maltby.

The Architectural League of New York and The New York State Council on the Arts are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 Architecture + Design Independent Projects Grants. Eighteen proposals, representing a range of design disciplines and locations throughout New York State, have been selected by a panel of design experts to receive awards of $10,000 each.

Independent Projects is a competitive grant program that is open to New Yorkers working in design fields. Beginning in 2022, it is administered as a partnership between the League and NYSCA. Grant awards are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

During the 2022 cycle, 113 applications were submitted for year-long design and research projects. A panel composed of seven designers and educators in architecture, industrial design, preservation and history, and urban design evaluated entries to select 18 projects for funding. The funded projects reflect the variety of the entries the program received this year: they encompass different disciplines and modes of practice, and will take many different forms when completed. The projects engage locales and communities all across New York.

Information about the upcoming 2023 cycle of Independent Projects will be announced later this fall.

2022 Independent Projects Grant Recipients

“Uni(wi)fied: Community-owned Wi-Fi Structures for Low-income, Low-rise Residential Buildings in Central Harlem”
Catherine Ahn and Fabrizio Furiassi
New York, NY

“Uni(wi)fied” will center the needs of residents of low-income, low-rise residential buildings in Harlem through active engagement and conversation. This community-centered design project, led by architectural designer Catherine Ahn and architect Fabrizio Furiassi, will amplify resident’s voices by developing prototypes of community-owned wifi structures, for residential rooftops or public spaces, which provide high-quality internet to these communities. Through design, the team seeks to create a catalyst for self-sustaining, culturally grounded infrastructure that centers and empowers residents.

“Assessing Surveillance: Militarized Infrastructure on Indigenous Borderlands”
Caitlin Blanchfield
Ithaca, NY

Through spatial analysis, oral histories and critical essays, the publication “Assessing Surveillance: Militarized Infrastructure on Indigenous Borderlands” explores the impact of those infrastructures on Indigenous lands and challenges common protocols of environmental review. Making public years of work with Tohono O’odham elders, the book is edited by architectural historian Caitlin Blanchfield. The book further offers a visual language sensitive to secrecy protocols within traditional knowledge and that refused the colonial way of thinking embedded in Western cartography.

“Coltura Promiscua for the Future: The Living Classroom”
Michael Cafiero
Whallonsburg, NY

A permanent installation of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs that form a living classroom in Whallonsburg, NY, this installation by landscape designer Michael Cafiero will demonstrate how ancient practices adapted to a novel context can be a shovel-ready climate mitigation and adaptation tool. It will be a space that assembles both local and extended networks of people, to build, care for, and generate knowledge together through planting and maintenance workshops and cultural events.

“Confronting Carbon Form”
Stanley Cho, Elisa Iturbe, and Alican Taylan
New York, NY

By identifying and analyzing the spatial expression of our fossil fuel paradigm, “Confronting Carbon Form” rewrites architecture’s relationship to our most pressing environmental problems and presents for the first time a history of the climate crisis told through the lens of space and architectural form. This public exhibition at the Cooper Union’s Houghton Gallery argues that at the core of the climate crisis, there is a spatial problem. Through this exhibition architects Stanley Cho and Elisa Iturbe and architectural designer Alican Taylan will bring a critical conversation about the role of design in our increasingly uncertain future.

“The Modern Longhouse: Braiding Indigenous knowledge with contemporary research on natural materials and embodied energy”
Anna Dietzsch, Kaja Kühl, and Angela Ferguson
Syracuse, NY

In partnership with Braiding the Sacred, a network of Indigenous communities in New York, “The Modern Longhouse” will explore how traditional knowledge, materials and techniques can be combined with modern-day thinking on embodied energy and a just transition to carbon neutral construction. Through community outreach and research, architects and urban designers Anna Dietzsch and Kaja Kühl, with supervisor of the Onondaga Nation Farm and the Onondaga Seed Bank Angela Ferguson, hope to improve current spatial and building practices and dependency on external resources, as they empower involved communities to join the energy transition taking place in the US.

“Modernist Housing Ideals and Realities in Buffalo, New York”
Jessie Fisher
Buffalo, NY

In 1932, the Museum of Modern Art held its Modern Architecture – International Exhibition. Lost in the focus on the aesthetic conversations it would generate was the Modern Housing section. Its prime contributor, Catherine Bauer, would go on to co-author the Federal Housing Act of 1937, which had a profound impact on the shape of American cities. Buffalo, New York was profoundly impacted by those ideas and policies. Historic preservationist Jessie Fisher will explore how the city was and continues to be shaped by them.

“Now You Belong Here: Small Islands Disappearing* States”
Nahyun Hwang and David Eugin Moon
New York, NY

Intimately engaging selected small island nations (including Kiribati, Nauru, Cabo Verde, Marshall Islands, Antigua, and Maldives) whose habitable territories are threatened by climate change, the publication explores the critical intersections of racialized environmental precarity, historical and contemporary forms of colonization and exploitation, and the shifting relationship between land, ocean, and people. Through drawings, texts, and the interviews, architects Nahyun Hwang and David Eugin Moon aim to articulate the slow violence of anthropocenic erasure and the persevering fights against them, while exploring the shifting relationship between land, sea, people, and belonging.

“Super Lightweight Formwork for High Performance Concrete Structures”
Duks Koschitz and Robert Brackett
New York and Lexington, NY

Inflatable structures are often perceived as engaging and fun, which makes them ideal to communicate ideas with high impact. They also allow rigorous investigations into materials and geometry. Architects and designers Duks Koschitz and Robert Brackett will use inflatables to explore “sustainable geometry,” to create lightweight and low-carbon construction methods. This project will specifically investigate inflatable hyperbolic paraboloid structures and their potential as formwork for concrete exhibiting their work both at sustainability conferences and Upstate Art Week.

“Perfect City’s Invisible Guides”
Aaron Landsman, Jahmorei Snipes, Tylor Diaz, and Tiffany Zorrilla
New York, NY

“Invisible Guides” is a community-centered design project led by the team behind Perfect City: multi-disciplinary artist and designer Aaron Landsman, actor Jahmorei Snipes, artist Tiffany Zorrilla, and composer Tylor Diaz. The project engages community residents, including unhoused people and domestic violence survivors, in the production of map-making workshops, public art, walking tours, and a publication. Activities and public events will be hosted by Abrons Art Center at Henry Street Settlement, located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and will include our most marginalized, least visible residents in having more agency in the design of their community.

“Look! Mira! Building Design Literacy in Newburgh, NY”
Liz McEnaney and Naomi Hersson-Ringskog
Newburgh, NY

Newburgh’s immigrant Latino population has doubled in the past two decades. Led by preservationists and designers Naomi Hersson-Ringskog and Liz McEnaney, this research and design project looks at the intersection of the Latino community and historic preservation—identifying barriers to entry and untapped opportunities. Activities include research, creative outreach, workshops, and guides.

“BlueCity Reef Garden”
Gita Nandan and Elliott Maltby
New York, NY

“BlueCity Reef Garden” will be a unique, living, floating bio-habitat that will support marine life and aquaculture through closed circular systems to create an urban aquatic metabolism. Architect Gita Nandan and landscape architect Elliott Maltby will focus on design development for this concept in Gowanus Bay, which is conceived to support the restoration of industrial edges. It will highlight how industry and nature can co-exist and be a part of the solution to our polluted waterways in the face of climate change.

“Beyond Memorial”
Emmanuel Oni
New York, NY

“Beyond Memorial” is a design, spatial, and healing justice response to the invisible, yet palpable community scars left in spaces after gun violence. This project provides an opportunity for a creative design response that involves crucial dialogue with community groups, such as a bereaved mothers group, exploring how to reclaim public spaces for community well-being and belonging. Designer Emmanuel Oni aims to support community members in addressing community trauma, reframing community healing and well-being, while prototyping unconventional design solutions of remembrance, re-imagination, and resistance in public space.

“The Hub: Envisioning Equity and Spatial Justice for Day Laborers”
Elsa Ponce Vargas
New York, NY

“The Hub” is a self-generated research and design project at the intersection of architecture and community-centered design. By examining the built environment and engaging with domestic, delivery, and construction workers, architect Elsa Ponce Vargas will generate grassroots knowledge and tools to support day laborers in searching for spatial justice. Using a bottom-up design approach, The Hub will become a prototype for a visionary and experimental job center for those whose workplace comprises the city streets.

“Ocellus XR: Visualizing Climate Risk, Vulnerability and Equity in NYC”
Daniel Sauter, Joe Steele, and Claudia Tomateo
New York, NY

“Ocellus XR” is an extended-reality mobile app being developed by designer and artist Daniel Sauter, architect Claudia Tomateo, and software engineer Joe Steele of Urban Systems Lab, an independent research center at The New School. Now a prototype, the app allows users to experience first-person 3D visualizations of climate risk, social vulnerability, and proposed green infrastructure plans in New York City. The app leverages design and data visualization to allow users to view climate hazards/solutions on a device as they walk through the city and project 3D maps onto physical surfaces. The team will launch a beta version of the app, initiate user feedback sessions and offer a public workshop.

“K.I.D.S. for Equity”
Elaine Sun
New York, NY

Reaching out to middle school students in communities heavily impacted during the pandemic through a series of architectural design workshops, architect Elaine Sun will empower students with creative problem-solving tools to better their communities. Workshops consist of a presentation and discussion, a working session where students design, draw and build models of solutions, and culminate with group review. Workshops focus on topics such as Home and Identity, Playgrounds for All, and Our Future Cities.

“Дія-Т / Diya-Ty: Empowering Ukrainian Youth to be the Makers of their Future Cities”
Sasha Topolnytska and Lindsay Harkema
New York, NY

“Дія-Ти” from Ukrainian translates as “to act” or “you are the action.” “Дія-Ти / Diya-Ty” proposes a series of educational design workshops for Ukrainian youth in New York to inspire creative skills for rebuilding Ukrainian cities in the future. Designer Sasha Topolnytska and architect Lindsay Harkema believe that learning design skills early in life is empowering for young people to imagine alternative futures that celebrate heritage and enable growth. These skills will be essential to rebuild Ukrainian cities as environments of care, cultural expression, and social vitality after the destruction of war.

“Lo–TEK: Water”
Julia Watson
New York, NY

In the footsteps of Taschen’s 2019 bestseller Lo—TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism comes “Lo—TEK: Water.” Co-authored by landscape architect Julia Watson with Indigenous experts, the second volume in the series highlights local innovations of coastal and aquatic communities. “Lo—TEK” provides a global platform for these underrepresented communities by acknowledging the ingenuity of indigenous innovation. Climate change requires the entire diversity of human creativity, borne from thousands of years of living in harmony with nature.

“Station to Station: The Future of Gas Stations in New York with the Transition to Electric Vehicles”
Michael Woods

With a transition beginning from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, electric charging stations will become more a part of the landscape. What might this change mean for the design and function of gas stations in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the state? The project will research the range of circumstances to develop a few prototypes for this transition. Architect and filmmaker Michael Woods will produce a short film and a website to share his ideas widely.

2022 Independent Projects Panelists

Illya Azaroff
+LAB architect
New York, NY

Kerri Culhane
Architectural historian and preservationist
Fort Edward, NY

Trattie Davies
Davies Toews Architecture
New York, NY

Farzana Gandhi
Farzana Gandhi Design Studio
New York, NY

Amina Hassen
Urban planner
Hudson, NY

Alex Lobos
Professor and Graduate Director of Industrial Design, Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, NY

Leslie Lok
Ithaca, NY


The 2022 Architecture + Design Independent Projects Partnership is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.