New Rochelle, NY -- On August 23rd an email was sent to Development Commissioner Luiz Aragon to inquire how and why he chose Professor William Menking of Pratt Institute and his newspaper Arch Paper for this competition. On August 27th that request was then forwarded to City Clerk Bennie Giles as part of a FOIL request he acknowledged receiving on August 18th. The city has already passed the 20 business day deadline in which to grant or deny the request and I have not received a response. The information about the jurors presented to the public has been gathered by what little is publicly available.
Mr. Menking is “founder and editor of The Architect’s Newspaper Book Review. Published in both New York and California the papers highlight the latest design projects and commissions, unfolding politics and debate, current events and cultural developments on architecture, urban design and planning.” His Complete Bio can be found on Pratt Institute’s website. Coincidentally Mr. Menking was a winner of New Practices Committee of the AIA New York Chapter "New Practices New York 2012 Competition" which was sponsored by non-other than Mayor Bramson’s exclusive developer for Echo Bay Forest City Ratner. It is still unknown exactly how Mr. Menking came to the attention of Development Commissioner Aragon for this competition.
Abby Hamlin is “Director of Curriculum and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Real Estate Development at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.” Ms. Hamlin is the founder and head of Studio HV , a creative studio that addresses urban challenges through participation in competitions and consulting assignments.” Her Complete Bio on Columbia University’s website can be found here. Ms. Hamlin is also a contributor for Arch Paper’s blog
Mr. Kapell is an Agent for Judith Rosen & Associates. According to his bio “Dave specializes in selling architecturally distinctive waterfront properties and has extensive knowledge of the intricacies of this niche market. He has broad experience with commercial, mixed-use properties and land development.” Dave was Mayor of the Village of Greenport New York for 13 years where he “presided over a robust revitalization of this small Victorian seaport.” His relationship to Arch Paper or William Menking is not yet known. His complete bio can be found here.
Ms. Nielsen is an Adjunct Professor at Pratt Institute. She is a “Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architecture and has been principal of her firm, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, PC since 1979…is the Vice President of the NYC Art Commission… Ms. Nielsen’s professional practice specializes in public projects throughout the East Coast and includes large scale master planning, urban design and landscape architecture. Her work focuses on brownfields, public open spaces, waterfronts and infusing all projects with sustainable initiatives.” Ms. Nielsen is the Co-Chair of Mayor Bloomberg’s Green Codes Task Force for Site and Storm Water. Her Bio on Pratt's websitie can be found here
Mr. Rogers was a Principal of New York based Rogers Marvel Architects which just recently disbanded. While at Rogers Marvel Architects he helped design the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Pratt School of Architecture. His current Bio for his new firm Rogers Architects can be found here
The Biographies of the Individuals from the Arch Paper jurors are quite impressive and it will be interesting for New Rochelle residents to find out how they were selected to be part of the jury that will decide the fate of the Armory and by whom. The potential William Menking-Forest City link is perhaps the most intriguing piece of the Armory competition puzzle. So to sum up on our investigation into the Jury the four Jurors appointed by the City are all Democrats and Bramson Donors who have served the city in official or appointed capacities over the years. The jurors from Arch Paper are linked to Professor William Menking or Pratt. Forest City has plans to take part of the Armory property and knock down half of the building for their projects driveway and parking lot.