Mellon Foundation awards Spitzer School $1.5M for multidisciplinary community-based incubator

The City College of New York is the recipient of a three-year $1.5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to support a new multidisciplinary Place, Memory and Culture Incubator (PMCI) in the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture. The incubator’s focus will be community-based partnerships and projects in Harlem that engage built--environment design and the humanities through a social--justice lens.  

City College President Vincent G. Boudreau thanked the Mellon Foundation for the grant and lauded the Foundation’s long-running support of CCNY programs, faculty, and students. This is the first Mellon grant for the Spitzer School.

“This latest project recognizes the historic positioning of the Spitzer School of Architecture in the Harlem community as well as our commitment, in the architectural field and elsewhere in the college, to acknowledging, preserving and democratizing access to the important physical and cultural legacies of this place,” said Boudreau. 

The incubator, he added, will provide a space and a methodology for members of the CCNY community -- academic and neighborhood -- to engage with one another in the production of more representative and authentic histories. 

Marta Gutman, dean of the Spitzer School, said the PMCI will transform the ways in which architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design students engage communities, urban sites, and the past. Participating design studios may focus on recording, visualizing, and preserving heritage and projecting innovative, resilient cultural and spatial futures. She thanked the Mellon Foundation for providing the spark to light this ambitious project in full force.

The significant Mellon support will allow the Spitzer School to “diversify faculty, embed the humanities and the arts in the design studios, and create a new model for university and community partnerships based on reciprocal collaboration. Knowledge about place, memory, and culture will be co-produced with community partners and shared with the Harlem community via exhibitions, a symposium, a digital archive, and community-based public arts programs and installations,” said Gutman. 

She will join Jerome Haferd, assistant professor of architecture, in directing the PMCI.

The PMCI's potential community partners include: Broadway Mall Association, Harlem African Burial Ground, and Save Harlem Now!, among many others. In a letter of support for the proposal, President Valerie Jo Bradley of Save Harlem Now! stated, "We are particularly impressed with the proposal's goal of creating an informative and accessible digital archive, providing funding and institutional support to community partners, and offering communities and universities an innovative model for collaboration among multiple stakeholders. Harlem is rapidly changing, and we need graduates with experience working in and with their local community to develop new design approaches informed by the cultural landscape that makes this place special and unique."

About the City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. Education research organization Degree Choices ranks CCNY #1 nationally among universities for economic return on investment. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. This year, CCNY launched its most expansive fundraising campaign, ever. The campaign, titled “Doing Remarkable Things Together” seeks to bring the College’s Foundation to more than $1 billion in total assets in support of the College mission. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.

Jay Mwamba
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