Awards & Honors

Prof. Höcek’s Firm Receives National SARA Award

Prof. Ali C. Höcek’s firm, AC Höcek Architecture (ACHA), has received a 2022 SARA National Excellence Award for its design of the Brownsville Community Culinary Center (BCCC) in Brooklyn. The design team included Spitzer alum Berk Eraslan B Arch ’16.

The Brownsville neighborhood is a community that, after decades of unfulfilled urban policies, racist agendas, and redlining, is burdened with poverty, high-crime, health issues, and unemployment, and is officially deemed a food desert. The project’s client, a nonprofit founded by the Michelin-star chef Claus Meyer, sought to reverse these trends with the BCCC.

Together, ACHA and the client chose a 5,000-sf former five-and-dime store on a central commercial street as the location. The project has three components — community, education, and healthy food — comprising a community center; a tuition-free, world-class culinary training venue for local young adults; a restaurant; and a café.

ACHA’s design activates this formerly vacant space into a safe, comfortable environment where neighbors can share three healthy, affordable, and culturally relevant daily meals prepared by the students. In turn, the students learn culinary skills and how to operate a restaurant. In addition to the teaching kitchen and educational spaces, the design provides the neighborhood’s first table-service restaurant in 50 years and community spaces for local organizations.

Through its fluid spatiality and adaptability, the BCCC is available to groups to address neighborhood issues and for individuals to socialize in a public space. As a testament to its design, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the culinary nonprofit and its students, joined by a host of partners and volunteers, temporarily transformed this model to provide hundreds of thousands of healthy meals to the community. This act of community is attributable to the success of the BCCC’s partners and residents, and its architecture, designed to support meaningful community engagement.

The Society of American Registered Architects (SARA) is a professional organization of architects and industry-related partners founded in 1956. SARA focuses on fellowship, friendship and mentorship.