The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York (CCNY) announced last week that it’s the recipient of a three-year $1.5 million grant from Mellon Foundation. The grant will help establish the new multidisciplinary Place, Memory and Culture Incubator (PMCI) at the architecture school, according to a press release.
The new incubator will help build relationships between the architecture program and community groups in Harlem. Its focus will be on local projects in Harlem related to the intersection of design, humanities, and social justice. PMCI will be led by Spitzer’s dean Marta Gutman and CCNY assistant professor of architecture Jerome Haferd.
“This latest project recognizes the historic positioning of the Spitzer School of Architecture in the Harlem community as well as our commitment, in the architectural field and elsewhere in the college, to acknowledging, preserving and democratizing access to the important physical and cultural legacies of this place,” said City College president Vincent G. Boudreau who added that the new incubator will facilitate the production of more “representative and authentic histories.”
Spitzer’s dean Marta Gutman said the incubator “will transform the ways in which architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design students engage communities, urban sites, and the past. Participating design studios may focus on recording, visualizing, and preserving heritage and projecting innovative, resilient cultural and spatial futures.”
Gutman added that the grant will allow for Spitzer to “diversify faculty, embed the humanities and the arts in the design studios, and create a new model for university and community partnerships based on reciprocal collaboration. Knowledge about place, memory, and culture will be co-produced with community partners and shared with the Harlem community via exhibitions, a symposium, a digital archive, and community-based public arts programs and installations.”
Save Harlem Now!’s president Valerie Jo Bradley vocalized support for PMCI, saying, “We are particularly impressed with the proposal’s goal of creating an informative and accessible digital archive, providing funding and institutional support to community partners, and offering communities and universities an innovative model for collaboration among multiple stakeholders. Harlem is rapidly changing, and we need graduates with experience working in and with their local community to develop new design approaches informed by the cultural landscape that makes this place special and unique.”