From the Classroom to the Professional World: Student Reflections on the CetraRuddy Design Studio

The fall of 2017 marked the second semester of the CetraRuddy Design Studio in Housing, giving 2nd-year students in the MArch I Program at the SSA the opportunity to explore the possibilities of housing design in Stapleton and Tompkinsville on the north shore of Staten Island, New York. The studio, taught by Professors Fabian Llonch and June Williamson, is generously sponsored by John Cetra and Nancy Ruddy of the firm CetraRuddy Architecture. In what follows, 3rd-year MArch student Nancy Kelleher reflects on the highlights of her experience in the studio in the spring of 2017.

The first CetraRuddy Design Studio in Housing in the spring of 2017 was a great success. The unique opportunity for academic and professional worlds to engage was particularly valuable at this time, as we prepare for our careers after graduation, and our path to licensure. As part of the studio, we learned about CetraRuddy’s projects and the structure of the firm. This allowed us to envision our future beyond the classroom.

When we visited the sites of our projects in Staten Island, we discovered just how much opportunity there is for future development. We learned how improvements to the urban infrastructure, particularly to transportation networks, could revitalize the borough. A closer look showed that our sites along the north shore are actually quite well catered to by public transit, but the majority of the island is not, creating a disconnect between neighborhoods and the greater NYC area.

My studio focused on “How New Yorkers Live Today,” which considered housing in relation to demographics, family structure, public health, transportation, and infrastructure. We also looked at emerging trends, such as co-living and intergenerational housing. This research became the driver of many of our projects. For my final project, I collaborated in a team with fellow students Marcos Gasc and Matt Shufelt to develop a residential tower that we called “TOVU: Tompkinsville on Vertical Urbanism.” Our project was based on the concept of the vertical street, which integrated public space stretching from the ground level to the top of our building.

The more memorable conversations of the semester were the ones that acknowledged both current needs and challenges, as well the longevity of our designs. The support we received this semester was a reminder that we can all contribute to the future of our profession. CetraRuddy’s collaboration has set an example of leadership, and encourages us as students to support the next generation of architecture students.

To learn more about the CetraRuddy sponsored design studio, click here.