Architecture Alumni and Industry Leaders Honored at Annual Alumni and FRIENDS Reception


Architecture Alumni and Industry Leaders Honored at Annual Alumni and FRIENDS Reception

November 3, 2022

Pictured from left: Peter Bentel, Paul Bentel, Carol Rusche Bentel, Dean Maria Perbellini, Daniel Horn, Robert A. McConnell, and Arianna Armelli

On October 26, for the 14th consecutive year, alumni, students, faculty, and guests gathered for the School of Architecture and Design’s annual Alumni and FRIENDS Reception. More than 200 attendees returned to the iconic Frank Gehry-designed IAC HQ Building in New York City for the first time since 2019, raising more than $150,000 in support of student scholarships, new initiatives, capital improvement, travel, and lectures.

“On behalf of the New York Tech School of Architecture and Design, a humble and heartfelt thank you to all of the sponsors and guests,” said Dean Maria Perbellini, A.AIA. “And a special thank you to Tom [Scerbo] for embracing us on this exciting journey of mentorship, support, generosity, and love for New York Tech. Our alumni serve as a testament to the success that lies ahead for our students and their desire to give back is why we are able to be here today.”

Newly appointed FRIENDS of the School of Architecture and Design Chairperson Tom Scerbo, AIA (B.Arch. ’98), who succeeded founding chair Domenick Chieco (B.S.A.T. ’89) this year, delivered his inaugural address at the event.

“Thank you [Domenick] for entrusting me with your legacy,” said Scerbo. “This organization was built from your selfless devotion and commitment to the profession, and your love of New York Tech. I am honored to work with you and continue to advance the FRIENDS mission of promoting a working relationship between the architecture, interior design, and construction professions and the School of Architecture and Design.”

The annual FRIENDS event honors School of Architecture and Design alumni who have made significant impacts in architecture, design, and construction. This year, the FRIENDS executive committee introduced three new awards categories—Distinguished Alumni Award, Emerging Alumni Award, and Legacy Award.


Pictured from left: Dean Maria Perbellini, Domenick Chieco, and Tom Scerbo

The inaugural honorees of these awards were:

  • Distinguished Alumni Award: Robert A. McConnell (B.Arch. ’82), president, EwingCole
  • Emerging Alumni Award: Arianna Armelli (B.Arch. ’12), founder and CEO, Dorothy; and Daniel Horn, AIA, LEED GA (B.Arch. ’13), architect/designer, ESKW/Architects, and co-founder, ORLI+ LLC
  • Legacy Award: Bentel & Bentel Architects, honoring the late Fred and Maria Bentel

“Our goal with this expanded program is to drive a stronger connection between students and alumni at various levels of professional career growth, creating new and exciting opportunities for multigenerational mentorship, the exchange of innovative ideas, and to promote and ensure pathways to a more diverse and inclusive profession,” said Scerbo.

As president of EwingCole, McConnell oversees the company’s business and operational activities while developing its next generation of leaders. He establishes and implements national growth, culture, and innovation strategies that have transformed EwingCole into a leading national architecture, engineering, and interior design firm with nine offices and 450 employees. In the first six years of McConnell’s tenure as president, EwingCole nearly doubled its revenue. His most notable projects include the Singapore Racetrack, Citizens Bank Park for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Quest Diagnostics Giants Training Center for the New York Giants, PNC Field for the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees, the expansion at Clover Park in Port St Lucie, Fla., for the New York Mets, and the Finneran Pavilion at Villanova University, among others. His most recent non-sports project is a new one-million-square-foot hospital for Essentia Health in Duluth, Minn.


Faculty and staff of the School of Architecture and Design

Armelli is the founder and chief executive officer of Dorothy, a data-driven tech company providing a simpler way for home and small business owners to prepare and recover from natural disasters and severe weather events. She became interested in disaster planning and recovery after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey in 2012, witnessing the growing problem of disaster response, insurance coverage gaps, and the subsequent financial strain affecting homeowners. In 2018, Armelli received her graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on building disaster risk prediction models using alternative data sets as a comparison to FEMA. Armelli founded Dorothy soon after. Dorothy is now venture-backed, raising more than $2 million from investment funds in the climate, real estate, and sustainable financial services industries. Armelli’s personal work and her work with Dorothy have been published in several magazines, including TechCrunch, eVolo, New York Magazine, and Archdaily.

“When I first learned that I was being considered for this award I was very close to turning it down. Not because I don’t appreciate the recognition but because I didn’t feel as if I deserved it yet,” said Armelli. “Until I can comfortably say that Dorothy is a household name and that we have had an impact on solving these problems for the individuals who are most affected, then I do not deem myself a success yet. But I will accept emerging success. Lastly, to the students that are here tonight, if you have a passion, I suggest you pursue it because building something from nothing is an unparalleled feeling.”

“With the Hurricane Sandy ten-year anniversary three days away, I have been taking time to reflect on what has happened since then,” said Horn. “Living through Sandy transformed my life. It was at the end of my journey at New York Tech that everything turned upside down when Sandy hit New York. I was living with my parents at the time and our community was devastated. I was a thesis student and after the storm my project inspiration drastically changed. Post-Sandy we formed the grassroots student-led group called ORLI, or Operation Resilient Long Island. With New York Tech’s help we kickstarted a global ideas competition that brought hundreds of people from around the world to tackle the issue of building back communities after a disaster. New York Tech gave not only me, but the dozens of other students involved in ORLI the flexibility to work on this project which built upon our coursework, and I have profound gratitude that they allowed us to do that.”


New York Tech President Hank Foley addresses the attendees.

Horn is a Queens, N.Y.-based architect and designer at ESKW/Architects who focuses on sustainability and long-term community resilience. He also was affected by Hurricane Sandy and now approaches his work from a scientific and psychosocial perspective, committing himself to building resilience in communities most at risk from natural hazards caused by climate change. He currently serves on the board of the American Institute of Architects Queens as a director. He is also a co-founder of ORLI+ LLC, a collective of design professionals focusing on community engagement and resilience.

“Maria and Fred were enthusiasts who forgot to stop with the bell, who loved to repeat themselves after studio for those that stayed,” said Peter Bentel, partner at Bentel + Bentel architects and son of the honorees. “Maria and Fred made the happy choice to teach. They had faith in their beloved students in whom they helped cultivate a kind of courage of learning to design, could see how work and play become one, and could imagine making a life doing something they love.”

The late Frederick R. Bentel, FAIA, and Maria A. Bentel, FAIA, were founding partners of Bentel & Bentel, Architects/Planners AIA, and faculty members at New York Tech. They each made a profound impact on the School of Architecture and Design and the professional lives of its graduates from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. Since its founding in 1957, the firm has acquired a reputation for superior contemporary design. It spans a wide range of building types and scales, from urban environments to refined interiors and furnishings, and demonstrates a belief that great design manifests its virtues in both its practical and aesthetic qualities. Bentel & Bentel draws inspiration from the locale—local history, regional styles, prevailing building methods, environmental conditions, and the nearby landscape or urban context. Its projects have garnered numerous international, national, and regional awards. Its current three principal members are Paul Bentel, Ph.D., FAIA; Peter Bentel, AIA; and Carol Rusche Bentel, Ph.D., FAIA.

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