13th Annual Alumni and FRIENDS Reception: A Resounding Success


13th Annual Alumni and FRIENDS Reception: A Resounding Success

November 2, 2021

Pictured from left: Roger Smith, Maria Perbellini, Theresa M. Genovese, Steven Alessio, and Domenick Chieco

Who says 13 has to be unlucky? In the case of the FRIENDS of NYIT School of Architecture and Design, it was just the opposite. On October 27, the 13th Annual Alumni and FRIENDS Reception reached new heights as it welcomed more than 250 attendees and raised nearly $250,000 for the school, a record for the event.

Each year, the FRIENDS event supports the mission of promoting a working relationship between the architecture, construction, and interior design professions and the School of Architecture and Design while providing support for special projects, lectures, scholarships, and initiatives that benefit the architecture and interior design programs.

“Through the years, the FRIENDS mission remains the same,” said Domenick Chieco (B.S.A.T. ’89), chair of the FRIENDS executive committee. “It is a privilege to chair this wonderful event each year, and it is so good to be back in person.”

This year’s event was held in a hybrid model, with guests given the option to attend in person or watch a telecast. More than 150 supporters came to the live event at NYIT de Seversky Mansion, and nearly 100 people attended virtually.

“The School of Architecture and Design is a vibrant community dedicated to academic excellence,” said Dean Maria Perbellini, M.Arch. “Our transformative, continuously evolving learning experiences prepare students to engage with leading design practices in a global context. My special thank you goes to all of you for this incredible night and for your sincere support of our students.”

Open Photo Gallery

The annual FRIENDS event honors School of Architecture and Design alumni who have made significant contributions to the field. This year, the Alumni Spotlight honorees include Steven Alessio (B.S.A.T. ’80) and Theresa M. Genovese (B.Arch. ’89), AIA, NCARB, LEED AP. They were joined by the 2020 Alumni Spotlight, Roger Smith (B.Arch. ’78), AIA, LEED AP.

“When I graduated in 1980, like many young students, I didn’t know where my career would take me…I only knew I loved architecture and loved to build,” Alessio said. “Tonight, my message to the students here is to work hard and follow your dreams. The world is a blank canvas. Use your imagination to shape the skyline, the world, and the future. Push the boundaries of what is possible. Create, design, and build a better, cleaner, and greener world for everyone to live in.”

Alessio, president and chief executive officer of The Sweet Construction Group, has more than 41 years of construction experience. He received his architecture license from the state of New York in 1991 but began his professional career at Sweet in 1980 as an intern. He has been instrumental in the growth of the firm across the United States. A dynamic and creative leader, Alessio is always pushing the company to take on and complete more challenging and innovative projects to ensure strategic growth while maintaining a “safety first” approach. He has been challenged with expanding Sweet’s network of projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the construction of emergency hospitals, testing centers, and vaccine centers from New York to Massachusetts.

“New York Tech had and continues to have a unique community of many distinguished faculty which places student outcomes at the forefront of the educational experience,” said Genovese. “This is critical to the success of the future professionals. The first person outside of my family to believe in me was Professor Maria Bentel. The engagement with all her ‘arising architects’ and the extent to which she supported and instilled confidence in one’s work was paramount for me. I learned to question everything and not be afraid to disagree if I had other ideas, all skills that have served me well. Later in my career, at a moment of understanding, I realized Professor Bentel was truly more than a professor imparting knowledge but a mentor with a capital M.”

Genovese is an architect and urban designer whose work has been widely exhibited and published internationally. She is a principal of the international firm CetraRuddy Architecture, leading the firm’s cultural educational practice as well as a member of the executive committee, which provides leadership strategy and direction across the entire practice. Over the years, she has designed numerous award-winning projects and competitions, most recently including Fotografiska New York, Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City, and The Choice School campus in Thiruvalla, India.

This year’s sponsors include:

Legacy Donors:

  • Roger (B.Arch. ’78) and Connie (B.S. ’78) Smith
  • The Sweet Construction Group

Event Host Sponsors:

  • Allied Risk Management
  • Brown & Brown Insurance
  • SLSCO, Ltd.

Premier Sponsors:

  • HLW
  • Metropolis Group, Inc.

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