Split screen of Dean Maria Perbellini and event chair Domenick Chieco.

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School of Architecture and Design Reimagines Annual FRIENDS Reception

December 11, 2020

Pictured from left: Domenick Chieco (B.S.A.T. ’89) and Dean Maria Perbellini at the FRIENDS Reimagined event. The virtual session raised $61,000 for the School of Architecture and Design.

The year 2020 has been anything but normal. So, when the FRIENDS of NYIT School of Architecture and Design executive committee gathered over the summer, they knew this year’s event would need to be different. On December 3, FRIENDS Reimagined was held. The virtual event welcomed more than 160 attendees and raised $61,000 for the school.

“The FRIENDS and the School [of Architecture and Design] knew that we could not let an entire year go by without connecting,” said Domenick Chieco (B.S.A.T. ’89), event chair and chief executive officer of Milrose Consultants. “We thought it was important to share with you the efforts made by the school to pivot and shift—to provide continuous learning opportunities despite the pandemic.”

The one-hour virtual session featured pre-recorded videos highlighting student, faculty, and alumni successes over the past year, as well as live remarks and a Q&A session featuring Dean Maria Perbellini, M.Arch., and Chieco. Perbellini discussed the impact of COVID-19 on students and faculty, and how with the support of the FRIENDS the school was able to make a swift transition to remote learning.

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Roger Smith (B.Arch. ’78), AIA, LEED AP, this year’s Alumni Spotlight honoree.

“All of our students are engaged with making, with fabrication, and visualization assignments. The transformation into a digital mode was something we could not have done without the entire help and engagement of the faculty, staff, the FRIENDS, and our students,” Perbellini said. “We reached out to each student individually to find out what their situation was, if they had any problem, and if anything could be done to help them.”

After hearing about the challenges that some students were having during and after the transition to remote learning, FRIENDS redirected its support from programs that were stalled due to the pandemic, such as study abroad and travel to international competitions, to ways to help students continue and achieve their degrees during the pandemic.

“Funds raised will sponsor the laptops, software subscriptions, licenses, and digital equipment necessary to complete coursework in the hybrid online/in-person learning environments that have been in place since the pandemic hit,” said Chieco.

“I have been impressed with the adaptability of our faculty and staff to prepare for the transition to digital teaching and learning. We have done this quickly, with competence and synergy,” said Perbellini. “The transition to virtual instruction has presented us with unforeseen challenges, but also opportunities to be creative and innovative. This time brought us the momentum to talk about how we teach, more extensively about design pedagogy in general, and critically thinking about the future we want to have.”

The annual FRIENDS event honors School of Architecture and Design alumni who have made significant impacts on the field. This year, the Alumni Spotlight honoree was Roger Smith (B.Arch. ’78), AIA, LEED AP.

“I am grateful to be a part of such a wonderful and caring group that continues to see the future of New York Tech architectural and interior design students’ success as our goal to further enhance our chosen professions as we all mold the face of the earth with our efforts together,” stated Smith. “We formed this group, first as a representation that our opportunities to be successful were jettisoned by our experiences at New York Tech and that we had an opportunity now to share that success and broaden the lives of the students in the Departments of Architecture and Interior Design. Giving life and subsistence to lectures, scholarships, capital improvements, and department improvements became the cornerstone of the FRIENDS gifts.”

Smith graduated second in his class with a bachelor’s of architecture in 1978 and was awarded the Silver Medal and the Henry Adams A.I.A. Golden Medal as a distinguished architectural student. He found his first full-time job at the firm that he would eventually own, BBS Architects, and transformed into one of the most prolific public building architecture design firms in the Northeast. Smith is known as “the Builder’s Architect” for his knowledge of the intricacies of constructions as they relate to the designer’s world. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Long Island Chapter of the A.I.A. in 2010. He has also served as a faculty member in the Architectural Department at New York Tech’s Long Island campus.

Learn more about the FRIENDS of NYIT School of Architecture and Design.