Department: Architecture School: Architecture and Design Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 2007
Architecture that improves the lives of people is a primary motivation for Farzana Gandhi, one of the winners of a 2013 competition hosted by desigNYC, an organization that pairs architects with nonprofits for pro-bono design services. She was selected as the architect for a “health communities” project in Brooklyn, N.Y., for El Puente, a nonprofit group that promotes the arts, education, and wellness for Latino residents. The project includes a comprehensive urban design strategy and the design of a mobile “Medicinal cart” that can be used by members of the community to provide services and gather information about alternative medicinal practices.
Gandhi is well-versed in architecture that operates on a number of scales to make small changes of large social significance. Her research on micro-level, low-tech design interventions for water collection, drainage, and distribution in India is timely, given the extreme weather patterns being experienced there and right here in New York City.
During the summer of 2012, Gandhi developed a traveling design studio program in India, where she led eight NYIT architecture students through various cities, including New Delhi, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai. The students sketched landmarks, synthesized travel observations, and designed low-rise/high-density housing alternatives in a studio workshop at the Sir J.J. College of Architecture in Mumbaiall while grappling with the challenges of failing infrastructure and rapid urbanization in cities already squeezed for space.
“India is unique in that its architectural, environmental, and construction methodologies are rooted not only in its own history and culture, but also in external global influences,” Gandhi says. “I was happy to see our students engaging so critically with local architects. Discussions centered on pressing contemporary issues that could inform solutions locally and within larger global contexts.”
Gandhi is also a member of the NYIT faculty-student team working on SodaBIB, a patent-pending system that up-cycles water bottles to form the shingles of a roof for shelters in disaster-stricken or developing nations. The U.S. Green Building Council nominated the project as a finalist for a 2012 Volunteer Impact Award, and the NYIT student team won the Judge’s Choice Award in the 2012 New York State Business Plan Competition. Together with her colleagues, she is hoping to lead a multidisciplinary and research-driven design-build project this year. Gandhi says, “It will offer NYIT students the opportunity to build mixed-use “street furniture” shelters (from bike rack to bus stop) to test the roof concept for viability and implementation.”
In addition, she teaches introductory, advanced, and thesis-level architecture design studios as well as drawing seminars to NYIT students. Since 2009, Gandhi has acted as director of the NYIT Exploring Architecture in Manhattan summer program for high school students and mid-career professionals interested in pursuing a career in the field. She also serves as co-coordinator of the visualization sequence, part of the School of Architecture and Design’s curriculum, to adapt both freehand drawing techniques and emerging digital technologies into NYIT coursework.
Gandhi earned a Master in Architecture with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Previously, she was a project manager at Wendy Evans Joseph Architecture, where she was directly involved with the design of a number of award-winning projects ranging from residential to institutional. As the principal of FG Design Studio, her architectural work considers the cultural, social, and environmental implications of spaces and seeks to design new ways for people to interact with each other as well as with the built environment.