PreviousNext

Featured Member: Andrea Steele, AIA

Featured Member by • 07/26

Andrea Steele, AIA, is a Partner in the New York office of TEN Arquitectos. A graduate of Lehigh University and Harvard Graduate School of Design, she was principal of Andrea Steele Architect before rejoining TEN Arquitectos, where she had previously worked, as a partner in 2006. She oversees TEN Arquitectos’s New York office, and leads most US projects, including a large number of public buildings. Much of her current work is in New York City, including a residential development on the East Harlem waterfront, a cultural center for Downtown Brooklyn, and a community center in Queens. Recently completed projects include the New York Public Library 53rd Street Branch, the civic role and place in her practice of which she describes here.

Q: Who or what inspired you to become an architect?

A: I cannot identify any one thing or person as influencing my decision to pursue Architecture. My parents were Peace Corps volunteers in India, and as such, I went to college with the desire to make a positive impact on the public at large. I began my studies in the Sciences with the aspirations of working in the field of Neuroscience, assuming the best way to improve the human experience was to understand what influenced our understanding of the world around us. However, in pursuing my degree, a required art elective lead me to taking an Architecture Design Studio, where I soon realized that instead of studying how the brain translated our surroundings and interactions into experiences, I could directly influence, and hopefully positively impact, people’s experiences by defining our environment.

Q: Can you talk a little about your education and professional trajectory?

A: Given my original desire to study Neuroscience, my early undergraduate focus at Lehigh University was in the Math and Sciences. Once I switched my major to Architecture, I took advantage of the liberal arts education to supplement those studies with philosophy and arts courses which added another dimension to my research. I received my Masters in Architecture from the Graduate School of Design, where my thesis focused on how understanding the fundamental workings of the brain could inform an architectural design reinforcing the connections between mind and body.

My professional career with TEN Arquitectos has expanded this to a process that seeks to create connections among site, program, and community through three primary lines of investigation:

Architecture as Public Space: Our projects strive to connect people to people, and people to the city, to serve as a platform for social exchange. All architecture has a public dimension and must be attuned to the possibility of enhancing civic relations and human experiences.
Architecture as Infrastructure: Architecture is an investment in infrastructure, and can deliver not only a built work and programs but also improved efficiencies and networks. Architecture must help connect people to resources, create new opportunities, and bring new public assets.
Architecture as Territory/Landscape: Architecture is empowered to connect people to place and to culture, enriching or clarifying a “sense of place” that strengthens identity. Projects grow from their sites. This line of inquiry brings us always to questions of history, culture, and ecology—sustainability on multiple levels.

Q: You previously headed your own firm. What attracted you to moving to TEN Arquitectos?

A: I met Enrique Norten not long after I moved to New York in 1998 and we unofficially established TEN’s New York office in 1999. It wasn’t until TEN won the international design competition for Brooklyn Public Library’s Visual and Performing Arts Library that TEN Arquitectos established a New York presence. It was around that time I decided to leave to start my own practice, as I was about to have my first child. With the notion that I could start up an office and have my first child at the same time, I was just naïve enough to succeed and built a diverse portfolio of private and public projects. In 2006, Enrique asked me to return to TEN as a partner. Beyond my strong belief in the design mission of TEN, I was attracted to the idea that I could leverage my experience working with schools, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations to bring in more public/civic work.

Q: What recent projects have been particularly important to you?

A: At the moment, all of the current projects have a special importance, as each has a unique opportunity to positively shape the public realm. All architecture has a public dimension and must be attuned to the possibility of enhancing civic relations and human experiences. The recently completed the 53rd Street Branch of the New York Public Library allowed us to explore how creating a new civic landscape could connect people to people, people to the city, and serve as a platform for social exchange. Our greatest aspiration is that our clients will embrace the full potential of the project and identify opportunities beyond those we initially recognized. The NYPL has done just that—as the 53rd Street branch is now hosting music performances, lectures, screened the presidential debates, the Olympics—and most recently was the venue for an artist exhibition and live opera. It has become the civic landscape we envisioned.

We are continuing this investigation with the design of a new community center for the local not-for-profit group Make the Road New York, which works to ensure dignity and justice to the immigrant community. This center will provide Make the Road with the much needed permanent presence to connect their members to legal, health, and educational resources. Similarly, our work with Brooklyn Academy of Music, MoCADA, 651 Arts and the Brooklyn Public Library is allowing us to further explore how architecture can elevate cultural institutions and integrate them within the city fabric—ensuring they are visible and accessible to the public at large.

Q: How and why are you involved with the AIA?

A: I have been a member since becoming a licensed architect 16 years ago. In that time, I have considered myself and my firm fortunate to use the AIA as a valuable resource, giving us the opportunity to participate in the relevant discourses that impact and define our profession. Most recently, I spoke at a Leadership Breakfast for the Women in Architecture Committee—and it has renewed my interest to take a more active role in the diverse programs offered at the Center for Architecture.

Comments are closed.

As the city densifies there is often not enough room on the sidewalks to accommodate the mountains of bags.
Zero Waste Design Guidelines Launched Policy and Advocacy
Siblings show off their Family Market. Credit: Center for Architecture
Archtober Family Day During Open House New York Learning by Design
Schomburg Center renovation by Marble Fairbanks. Credit: Nicholas Desbiens, Marble Fairbanks
In the News In The News
Photo via NYCgo
Policy Pulse: NYC Agency Heads Discussion Policy and Advocacy
Displacement: Capital, 10.04.2017.
“Displacements: Capital” Investigates the Impact of Foreign Funds on NYC’s Skyline Chapter News
Courtesy of US Department of Defense.
Learn How to Assess Homes after a Disaster Chapter News
Turrett Penthouse Suites at the Beekman Hotel by Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, Architects (GKV) in collaboration Martin Brudnizki Design Studio. Credit: Simon Lewis.
In the News In The News
Advertise on Dezeen Jobs!
Get 20% off featured ads on Dezeen Jobs Chapter News
Credit: Erik Bardin
“Scaffolding” Kicks off Archtober at the Center for Architecture At the Center for Architecture
“Of, By, and For The People: Grassroots Movements and Policy Transformations.” Credit: Center for Architecture.
Defining Citizen Architect Chapter News
“The Activist, the Architect, the Artist: Case Studies in Civic Engagement,” brought together six practitioners from various professions – architecture, art, landscape architecture, law, and urban design – to explore different forms of civic engagement in communities both large and small. Credit: Center for Architecture.
The Activist, the Architect, the Artist Policy and Advocacy
Kate Slevin (left), Saskia Sassen, Ethan Kent, Vishaan Chakrabarti, AIA, at Public Spaces, Social Movements. Credit: Center for Architecture
Policy Pulse: Imagining the New Civic Commons Policy and Advocacy
Classifieds Classifieds
Temple Israel of the City of New York, New York, NY. White's role: Partner in Charge. Image: PBDW Architects.
Featured Member: Samuel G. White, FAIA, LEED AP Featured Member
56 Leonard Street by Herzog & de Meuron, one of Archtober 2017's Buildings of the Day. Credit: Iwan Baan.
Are You Ready for Archtober? At the Center for Architecture
The Cornell Tech Campus in Roosevelt Island. Credit: Iwan Baan.
In the News In The News
Credit: Center for Architecture
Of, By and For the People Policy and Advocacy
Classifieds Classifieds
Center for Architecture staff rolled up their sleeves to help Win students design and build their own tree house models. Pictured: AIANY/CFA Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA; Morgan Watson; and Camila Schaulsohn. Image courtesy of Win.
Engaging the Community through Design Learning Learning by Design
Credit: Center for Architecture
CLP Development Session III: Community Transformations through the Lens of Resiliency Chapter News
Hunter's Point Campus, Queens, NY. Rolland's role: Project Director. Image: David Sundberg/Esto.
Featured Member: Ann Rolland, FAIA, LEED AP Featured Member
Cocktails and Conversation: Peter Gluck and Inga Saffron, 09.08.17. Photo: Daniel Cole.
Peter Gluck and Inga Saffron Appraise the State of Architecture for Cocktails and Conversation Chapter News
Anthology Film Archives expansion by Bone/Levine Architects.
In the News In The News
Head_Image
Archtober is Coming! At the Center for Architecture
Credit: Center for Architecture
AIANY Members: Engage and Recommend Leaders Chapter News
Percy Griffin, AIA, interviewed at the Center for Architecture by Jack Travis at "Legends: 3 Harlem Architects, 4 Decades" in 2016. Credit: Center for Architecture
In Memoriam: Percy Griffin, AIA In Memoriam
Courtesy of AIA Houston.
Help the Architecture Center Houston AIANY - Message From the Executive Director
Image courtesy the NYC Department of Buildings
DOB Proposes Rule for Additional Fees Policy and Advocacy
New Visions for Public Schools by Gruzen Samton LLP. Burke's role: Director of Interiors/Design Director. Photo: Mark Ross.
Featured Member: Mary Burke, FAIA Featured Member
Working together on the grouping exercise. Credit: Center for Architecture
CLP Development Session II: Facilitating Inclusive and Productive Engagement—Strategies and Struggles Chapter News
Woman´s March on NYC, 2017. Credit: Michael Kowalczyk ©/ Flickr.
Public Spaces, Social Movements: How Planning and Design Can Shape Public Discourse Policy and Advocacy
Names in the News In The News
“Kaneji Domoto at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonia,” closing 08.26.17. Credit: Erik Bardin.
On View Exhibitions
Moynihan Train Hall by SOM.  Credit: SOM, image via New York State Governor's Office.
In the News In The News
Sonali from our elementary school Fairytale Architecture program shows off her castle design. Credit: Center for Architecture.
Summer@theCenter Wraps Up Learning by Design
Yale University Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, New Haven, CT. Nieminen's role: Partner in Charge. Image: Cervin Robinson.
Featured Member: Michael Nieminen, FAIA Featured Member
Classifieds Classifieds
2100 Troll is Antarctica’s first megacity, its ringed megastructures each organized around a central green space. 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, by Vanessa Keith/StudioTEKA (New York: Urban Research, 2017). Image: courtesy of Terreform.
Featured Member: Vanessa Keith, AIA Featured Member
Grand Central Terminal in Midtown East. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Policy Pulse: City Approves Midtown East Rezoning Policy and Advocacy
Myrtle-Wickoff Station Complex. Dugan's role: Principal in Charge. Image: Vanni Archives.
Featured Member: Jeffrey Dugan, AIA Featured Member
Bronx River House by Kiss + Cathcart Architects.
In the News In The News
Names in the News In The News
2017 AIANY COTE Awards. Deadline: 09.17.17
New Deadlines In The News
"This Future Has a Past," on view through 09.12.17. Credit: Center for Architecture.
On View Exhibitions
Office loft / Maker space Hudson Yards Penn Station
Classifieds Classifieds
OBL/QUE, A Journal on Critical Conversation published by Harvard GSD, is the winner of the  2017 Douglas Haskell Award for Student Journals.
Announcing the 2017 Douglas Haskell Award for Student Journals Recipient At the Center for Architecture
At SpeakUp 2017 in Denver, Colorado.
Policy Pulse: AIA Hosts Annual SpeakUp Event Policy and Advocacy
Community Mural, 116th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Photo: Shilpa Patel.
Challenges of Engaging Locally: Civic Leadership Program Opens Discussion Chapter News
Member Survey: How Are Firms Helping Members Grow Professionally? Chapter News
Design educator Hadley Beacham performs a structural test for a triangulated model. Credit: Center for Architecture
Youth Explore Architecture at K-12 Summer Design Programs Learning by Design