Architecture for All
The famed architect I.M. Pei said, “Architecture is life, and architecture is the mirror of life.” That statement holds truth, especially for Jacqueline Pileggi, who views the importance of architecture not only as models and drawings but her way of life. “Architecture is something we all experience every day, and I would love to contribute to creating spaces that all people can enjoy,” she says. “I have always had an interest in creating, and I am grateful to have found a field that allows me to be creative in my work.”
Growing up in Northport, N.Y., Pileggi was always drawn to the arts and had her sights on a career in architecture from a young age. She chose New York Institute of Technology because of its highly regarded architecture program. “New York Tech is fully accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is important for anyone who aims to become a licensed architect,” she says. “[Also], the option to study on either the New York City or Long Island campus drew me to the school. The proximity to Manhattan was a key factor because I get so much inspiration from the city.”
Throughout her college career, Pileggi has had many accomplishments. She was on the Presidential Honors List the past five years and was awarded the NYIT School of Architecture and Design Silver Certificate for Architectural Design. Her class projects have also received public recognition. In April 2021, she was selected as one of Metropolis magazine’s Future100. She was also a recipient of a 2020 Brooklyn Architects Scholarship from the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, for which she was featured in Pylon magazine.
One of her favorite class assignments was designing an Amphibious Science Center/Research Building located on the inlet of Westchester Creek in the Bronx, N.Y., with the goal of cleansing the surrounding environment. “The challenge was to design a building that interacts with the creek,” Pileggi explains. The building had to serve both the Bronx community and the scientists who would be researching the surrounding ecology. The students needed to incorporate an exhibition hall, classrooms, an auditorium, and research labs in the design. The adjacent creek is infamous for pollution, so part of her proposal was to implement ways to filter and remediate the water quality of the creek, creating a more enjoyable waterfront experience for the community.
“I enjoyed this project because we were challenged to study building systems and try to make sustainable buildings that could be LEED-certified,” she says. “I incorporated bioswales [retention areas that capture and treat stormwater] and roof systems to manage stormwater runoff, as well as glazing systems that would help passively heat and cool the building. This project made me realize that we can design buildings that can improve their surrounding environment rather than harming it.”
But success doesn’t come easy. “Architecture school is very intense. It requires long hours and extreme dedication. These are components that you don’t fully see until you are in school,” she says. “I overcame this struggle throughout my schooling by reaching out to friends and professors and asking questions. The great thing about design is that there is not one single answer and everyone sees things differently.”
She offers this piece of advice for incoming architecture students: “Talk to everyone, really get to know your professors, and just enjoy the process. It can be intimidating at the beginning, but step by step, you will get there.”