Department: Architecture School: Architecture and Design Campus: Manhattan
Member of NYIT Since: 1987
Long Island's sand and surf draws residents to its shoreline, but few have as big of a stake in its livelihood as Michael Schwarting, professor of architecture at NYIT. His firm, Campani and Schwarting (CAS) Architects, is currently designing a new public space for the waterfront in Port Jefferson, N.Y., where Schwarting has lived for 11 years with his wife Frances Campani, associate professor of architecture and a partner in his firm. The Port Jefferson project, which has garnered local interest with a recent article in Newsday, is a test of how sustainable design can revitalize local communities.
"There are ecological and traffic-saving components to this plan because we are removing parking in the harborfront area and converting the space into a park," Schwarting says.
His plan moves parking to an alternate location, consolidated in an automated structure. "An automated garage parks cars automatically and saves emissions from vehicles driven by people looking for a spot," he says. "We propose to power the structure with solar energy on the roof."
Schwarting's efforts to "green" Port Jefferson date back nearly a decadeto the NYIT classroom where he involved students in designing ideas later presented to the mayor, village trustees, and 2030 committee. The project was well-received, and Schwarting continued to work on it with his architecture firm. Last year, the village won a grant from the New York State Waterfront Revitalization Program to develop his design.
Using the classroom as a laboratory to test real-world designs is nothing new for Schwarting. He teaches an Issues of Practice course that challenges students to design solutions for unique sites.
"As a mock office, we work together and design a project for a community," says Schwarting, who recently turned his attention to Malmberget Sweden, an iron mining town whose center collapsed into a pit that divides the area. His class designed a bridge as a Main Streetwith housing, shops, and public amenitiesrunning over the pit, giving residents access to both sides of town.
In addition, Schwarting taps students into global ideas through an exchange program that he began in 2004 with the Politecnico of Milano in Italy. The program brings Italian doctoral students to the Manhattan campus in the fall, and NYIT students to Milan in the summer.
Closer to home, local global warming issues are also on Schwarting's radar. After seeing the 2010 Rising Currents exhibition about high sea levels and climate change at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, he assigned students in his urban design studio to conceive ways to improve the flood-prone areas of Sunset Park and Gowanus, Brooklyn.
"These are design studio projects but research into important local issues as well," he says.
Schwarting believes these experiences will show students the realities facing communities-something he has grown to appreciate and address with CAS Architects.
"I've always liked the things that can happen in a small practice," he says. "It gives the opportunity to work with communities personally and be more connected with the people you're building for."