Five projects by Hispanic architects
Hispanic Heritage Month is a great time to start a conversation about the visibility of Latinx designers in the field of architecture. According to NAAB, only 8.5% of the total architectural workforce, and 5.9% of AIA membership, identifies as Hispanic or Latinx.
A study titled "Where Are My People? Hispanic & Latinx in Architecture", part of a larger series on diversity in architecture compiled by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), highlights a lack of recognition for Hispanic & Latinx architects in the profession's highest honors (AIA Gold Medal, AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion, Pritzker Prize, and ACSA Distinguished Professor). The author states, "...On the whole, [statistics] indicate that while schools are currently enrolling Hispanic/Latinx students at adequate numbers this does not transfer directly to the profession."
We would like to take this opportunity to recognize and highlight the work of five exceptional Hispanic/Latinx architects.
Everardo Jefferson, AIA, Caples Jefferson Architects [image above]
Queens Theater, Queens, New York
In the early 2000s, the city of New York commissioned Long Island City, Queens-based firm Caples Jefferson Architects to undertake modernization and expansion of the Theaterama structure at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, one of the buildings originally designed and constructed for the 1964-65 World's Fair. Together with his partner Sara Caples, AIA, architect Everardo Jefferson went through an arduous review process with the city's Parks Department, among other entities, to create a design that brings new life to this historic site. Construction was completed in fall 2011.
Gustavo Rodriguez, AIA, FXCollaborative
The Forge, Queens, New York
Completed in 2017, this 38-story residential tower offers high-end living spaces with the convenience of easy access to public transportation. Spearheaded by Gustavo Rodriguez, AIA, a partner at New York's FX Collaborative, the structure faces toward the East River and Manhattan. The building's living spaces range from studios to one- and two-bedroom units and include a landscaped courtyard, sculpture garden, lap pool, and movie screeing area, as well as an al fresco dining space. The Forge won a 2018 Brooklyn-Queens Award of Excellence for multi-family design.
Monica Ponce de Leon, MPdL Studio
Helios House, Los Angeles
Helios House by MPdL Studio, a design firm founded by Venezuelan-born architect Monica Ponce de Leon, boasts the title of the first LEED-certified gas station in the country. Sitting at the intersection of two major North/South and East/West crossroads in Los Angeles, the location was previously the site of a gas station. One of the project's goals was to upgrade the original station in an environmentally friendly manner by upcycling and recycling whenever possible. Solar panels covering the canopy's roof, energy-efficient lights and sensors placed throughout, and prefabricated stainless steel panels that conserve labor costs and reduce material waste are just a few of the structure's sustainable features. Helios House won a design award from AIA Los Angeles and a Grand Clio Award for Design.
Ismael Leyva, FAIA, Ismael Leyva Architects
The Icon, Manhattan, New York
Located in New York's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, the Icon is 43 stories tall but only 24 feet wide. Designed by Mexican-born architect Ismael Leyva, one of the city's most prominent residential architects, each unit—of which there are three on each floor—is located on a corner in order to maximize views. According to AIA New York, "When faced with site challenges—such as narrow street frontages, constrained air rights and intersection zone regulations—Leyva turns to unexpected geometries, cantilevers, setbacks, and cascading balconies to help solve design problems." The Icon displays several such solutions.
Francisco Gonzalez Pulido and Gergana Gonzalez Pulido, FGP Atelier
Ted Gibson Smart Salon, Los Angeles
Veering away from their usual high rise building and stadium designs, architect Francisco Gonzalez Pulido and his wife and studio partner Gergana Gonzalez Pulido of FGP Atelier were intrigued by celebrity stylist Ted Gibson's vision of creating a "salon of the future"—and energized at the challenge of designing the salon in a 1,100-square-foot space on a tight budget. Five wavy pods offer privacy to each stylist and client in a futuristic environment with color-changing walls. Thanks to Amazon integration, changing the color in each pod is as easy as shouting "Alexa!" In accordance with the salon's sleek aesthetic, Amazon integration also allows for easy product delivery so that none of the walls onsite are cluttered with merchandise. The salon was completed in 2019.