Gensler Renews Commitment to Support AAP NYC

Audience looking toward speaker at AAP NYC

Participants at the summer 2013 L. Michael Goldsmith Lecture in New York City, featuring architects from SHoP. photo / Nancy Borowick

December 6, 2013

This fall, 29 architecture and regional planning students are interning at private firms, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations in New York City, all while taking classes from visiting critics at AAP's studio and classroom facility in Chelsea.

For the AAP students who live, work, and study in New York City, the semester-long program would not have been possible without the contributions of the Gensler Family and Arthur Gensler (B.Arch. '57), founder of Gensler, the global architecture, design, planning, and strategic consulting firm.

After donating $450,000 to fund the appointment of AAP NYC's executive director in 2011, the Gensler Family Foundation has committed an additional $500,000 over the next five years to insure that the program remains a vibrant learning experience for architecture, art, and planning students.

"I think it's important for our students to find out what they're facing in the real world," says Gensler. "The New York City program exposes them to a very different world than what they have in Ithaca."

Though he had a summer internship with an architecture firm in New York City while he was a student, Gensler recalls that he did not have the opportunity to take classes with visiting faculty and explore the city with other AAP students. "I feel that the New York City program is important in providing the experiences that I wished I'd had," Gensler says.

"It is no exaggeration to say that the Gensler family's support has profoundly transformed our New York City program," says Kent Kleinman, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art, and Planning. "In a few short years, AAP NYC has become an essential curricular experience. This gift allows us to provide high-level and intense exposure to complex urban design issues. We are deeply grateful for Art's vision and support."

Since Robert Balder (B.S. URS '89, M.R.P. '90) became its first full-time executive director in 2011, AAP NYC has grown and now offers classes and internships for all three programs in the college. This fall, students in city and regional planning are participating in the program for the entire semester for the first time, working in internships at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Project for Public Spaces, and Gensler's Manhattan offices.

Enrollment for the program now approaches the levels of the college's semester long Cornell in Rome Program. This semester includes 14 graduate students in regional planning and 15 undergraduate architecture majors. Art students participate in the program each spring, with 20 artists scheduled to enroll next semester.

"One of the things we're incredibly grateful for is Art's extraordinary vision," Balder says. "With the success of his own firm, I think he has been able to give us the opportunity to draw from his lessons of practice and start to provide them in an academic realm."

Students who participate in AAP NYC work two full days a week at an internship and take classes at AAP's facility on 17th Street. Balder also encourages the students to take advantage of art shows, lectures, and exhibits taking place throughout the city, and often leads students en masse to important cultural events.

Next summer, AAP NYC plans to move to a new location that will provide a larger space for its studios, classes, and lectures.

With other gifts to the program, Gensler, who lives in San Francisco, has contributed more than $1 million to AAP NYC. He also funded a scholarship for undergraduate architecture students in 1980 and a visiting critic program in architecture for the Ithaca campus in 1991.

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