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CCNY Graduate Students Best Teams From Three New York Architecture Schools In “IRON DESIGNER” Competition

Teams Given One Hour to Design New Public Use for DUMBO Archway

NEW YORK, April 29, 2009 – A team of four Architecture and Landscape Architecture graduate students from The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York (CCNY) bested rivals from three other New York City architecture schools to win an “Iron Designer” competition.  The contest was inspired by the popular television series “Iron Chef.”  

Landscape Architecture majors Halina Steiner and Brett Seamans and Architecture majors Perry Randazzo and Orlando Rymer represented CCNY in the contest, held Thursday, April 23, at the DUMBO Archway in Brooklyn. 

The teams, from Columbia University, Parsons The New School and Pratt Institute, in addition to CCNY, were given one hour to produce a sustainable design solution for the DUMBO Archway underneath the Manhattan Bridge on the Brooklyn side of the East River.  Long used as a storage facility, the Archway was recently reopened for public use.

Part of the challenge was to create a link between the Archway and an adjacent lot in light of its rebirth as public space.  The event was held in Raumlabor’s Spacebuster, an inflatable mobile dome used to host events around New York City.

“It was an amazing experience to work as an interdisciplinary team,” said Mr. Seamans, a marketing executive from Manhattan now studying to become a landscape architect.  “We used our different skill sets to read and analyze the site.  Together, we came up with a cohesive solution.”

Ms. Steiner, a Bushwick resident whose undergraduate degree is in graphic design, noted it was the first time the students worked together as a team.  “Not knowing what to expect, we weren’t all that concerned about the outcome.”

The Spitzer School team proposed a flexible space that could be used by artists and galleries from the surrounding neighborhood.  They created a fluid form for a canopy, suspended with cables, to cover the adjacent lot.  For the Archway, they created seating to mimic the shape of the canopy and create a uniform appearance. 

They also proposed flanking the archway with bio-swales that would collect storm water run-off from the bridge.  This would create landscaped spaces that would yield a pleasing environment for passers-by to sit and meander in and around the Archway.

The judges praised the CCNY team for delivering a lucid presentation and for their ample school spirit.  In addition, they said the project was a thoughtful response to the surrounding neighborhood since the Archway is very close to the DUMBO art galleries.

“Representatives of community groups explained their concerns to us, and we listened to what they wanted,” said architecture graduate student Perry Randazzo, a New Jersey native whose undergraduate degree is in chemistry.

The “Iron Designer” competition was part of “ECOGRAM: The Sustainability Question,” a series of events initiated at Columbia to examine the question of sustainability in architecture and architectural education.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847 The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; The School of Education; The Grove School of Engineering, and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.  For additional information, visit



Ellis Simon
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