Giovanni Santamaria, Ph.D. Visiting Assistant Professor
Department: Architecture School: Architecture and Design Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 2008
Urban ecology intrigues Giovanni Santamaria, Ph.D., who teaches students how to use advanced technologies to enhance architectural structures. At NYIT, he's found a niche for testing new ideas.
"There's an interesting academic environment at NYIT and many experimental projects going on in the School of Architecture and Design," says Santamaria, who taught the Design IV studio during the spring 2013 semester.
In class, students used sustainable materials such as wood to design large clusters in structures and grappled with design challenges, such as how technology can be used to map the reaction of a building to an environmental disaster and other natural phenomena.
"I'm communicating to students that there's a lot of responsibility as an architect due to the complexity and sensitivity of the environment," Santamaria says.
The semester culminated in students entering the 2012-2013 Timber in the City: Urban Habitats Competition, which challenged them to design affordable housing units for the community of Red Hook in Brooklyn, N.Y. They imagined ways to repurpose an existing city neighborhood with buildings made of renewable resources; offer expedient, affordable construction; use new and old wooden materials in their designs; and provide healthy living and working environments.
Santamaria made his way to NYIT while working on a Ph.D. in architecture and urban design at Politecnico di Milano in Italy. During his studies, he traveled to London, Madrid, and New York City, where he met Professor Michael Schwarting, who invited him to work on a design proposal for credits toward his doctorate.
NYIT's international exchange program with Santamaria's alma mater continues, with 56 students and professors spending 10 days at the Manhattan campus in April to work on design proposals. Their visit included a series of presentations and lectures.
Since joining the architecture faculty at NYIT, Santamaria has engaged students with a range of hands-on projects, such as the redesign of a boxing gym in Freeport, N.Y., and participation in a competition to design a campus extension for the Bocconi Business School in Milan. For the latter, NYIT was one of two U.S. universities invited to compete; the other was Harvard.
In addition, Santamaria is a member of the "waterfront" team, one of five multidisciplinary groups collaborating on design proposals to protect and enhance the New York coastline as part of the Post-Sandy Initiative, "Building Better, Building Smarter - Opportunities for Design and Development," organized by the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) New York Chapter.
View their work on display in the exhibition, "Future of the City," through Saturday, June 29 at The Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York City.