FAR ROC Design Jury
The Bluestone Organization
Steven Bluestone is a partner in The Bluestone Organization, a real estate development, general contracting, and property management firm founded by his grandfather in 1927. He studied architecture and passive and active solar energy systems, earning a B.S. in environmental science from Marlboro College. Since entering the construction and development business, he has focused much of his time on researching and implementing green building design.
Steve spearheaded an effort to rethink his firm’s decades-old construction design formulas in order to work toward developing buildings that are both sustainable and profitable. Using off-the-shelf components, the firm produced a 50-unit rental building that was hailed as “the most energy efficient multifamily building in New York State with four or more units.” The building has experienced utility savings of over 80% compared to similar buildings in the organization’s portfolio; equally important, it was no more expensive to build than similar projects that the company developed at the same time. Steve continues to champion the integration of new systems and materials that further lower both construction and operating costs. He lives with his wife and in Westchester County, NY, in a passive solar, geothermal heated/cooled home that they designed and built in 2000.
Alexander J. Felson PhD, RLA
Alexander Felson is an urban ecologist, a registered landscape architect and an assistant professor at Yale University. He is jointly appointed between the School of Architecture and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research focuses on integrating ecological understanding and research methods with urban design and land development strategies to study and shape the feedbacks, adaptive capacity, vulnerability, and resilience of coupled human and natural systems.
Since transitioning to academia in 2009, Alex has overseen the joint degree program between Forestry and Architecture. In his first year, he founded the Urban Ecology and Design Lab (UEDLAB) — a dedicated program for teaching and applying urban ecological theory and methods through actionable science. His team’s work with AECOM and Snohetta Architects was a finalist for the National Parks Department Union Square on the National Mall.
Prior to Academy, Alex served as AECOM’s Project Director for the MillionTreesNYC, where he leveraged a publicly funded design project to design and build the country’s largest constructed urban forestry experiment. In recognition of his accomplishments in reconciling business interests with environmental concerns, Alex was selected as Crains “40 under 40” for year 2009. He has lectured and published widely and has been awarded several ASLA Honor Awards for his work. He received a B.A. and an M.S. from Wisconsin-Madison, an M.L.A. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.
NYC Office of Housing Recovery Operations
Brad Gair has more than 20 years of professional local, national and international emergency management experience, including deployment to scores of disasters, emergencies and special events in key leadership positions. He is currently serving as Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations leading post-Hurricane Sandy disaster housing efforts. In this capacity, Brad created the New York City Rapid Repairs program which made permanent repairs to 20,000 damaged residences enabling New York families to return to their homes in less than 90 days.
Previously, Brad has served as a FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer, Federal Recovery Officer for the World Trade Center attack, Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Office of Emergency Management, and Special Advisor to the United Arab Emirates National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority. Brad is also a Certified Emergency Manager and volunteers as Special Advisor to the President of the International Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers.
Ilana Judah AIA, OAQ, LEED AP BD+C
AIA New York COTE
Ilana Judah is the Director of Sustainability at FXFOWLE Architects and co-chair of the AIA New York’s Committee on the Environment (COTE). A senior architect with over 15 years of experience working on projects of various scales and typologies, she is a recognized leader in advancing and advocating for the implementation of environmentally sensitive design.
Ms. Judah serves as the New York regional leader of the Architecture and Sustainable Design Leaders Group, is a founding member of ASHRAE’s New York Sustainability Committee, and is an active member of the Urban Green Council (USGBC NY.) She is a former executive board member of the Canada Green Building Council (Quebec Chapter.) In addition to her work at FXFOWLE and the AIA NY, Ms. Judah has served as a visiting instructor at Cornell University’s School of Art, Architecture and Planning, a guest lecturer at Columbia and New York University, and a visiting critic at McGill University. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences including Greenbuild and Living Futures.
Ms. Judah participated on Mayor Bloomberg’s 2008 New York City Green Codes Task Force on the Climate Change Adaptation Committee. She is a co-author of AIA COTE NY’s post-Hurricane Sandy White Paper entitled, Where Mitigation Meets Adaptation: An Integrated Approach to Addressing Climate Change in New York City.
New Yorkers for Parks
Holly Leicht is the Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks, a research-based advocacy organization championing quality public spaces for all New Yorkers. Prior to NY4P, she served as Deputy Commissioner for Development at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Holly oversaw Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of housing and spearheaded the New Housing New York competition, which resulted in Via Verde, a signature affordable housing project that has won awards for its design and sustainability.
Previously, Holly was Director of Planning at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, and the Menapace Fellow of Urban Land Use Law and Director of Design, Planning and Advocacy at the Municipal Art Society, where she co-directed Imagine New York, engaging thousands in visioning New York’s future after 9/11. Holly began her legal career in Real Estate Finance at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. She grew up in St. Louis and graduated magna cum laude from Yale College and cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law.
CEO & Chairman
L+M Development Partners
Ron Moelis is a co-founder of L+M Development Partners and its affiliated companies. He is a founding member of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing and is an advisory board member of the New York City Housing Partnership. He sits on the Board of Governors of the Real Estate Board of NY and is a member of several non-profit organizations including the Citizens Housing & Planning Council, Civic Builders and New Yorkers 4 Parks.
Ron is a Trustee of NYU School of Law, where he is also established the Moelis Institute for Affordable Housing to explore issues and policy in the field and where he also serves on the advisory board for the Furman Center.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he holds a B.A. in history and a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School and a J.D. from NYU. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year for Real Estate in 2012 by Ernst and Young.
Queens Community Board #14
Dolores Orr, Chairperson of Queens Community Board #14, was born and raised in Rockaway Beach, and continues to make her home there. From her first job spinning cotton candy at Rockaway’s Playland to her current role as a Crisis Counselor with Project Hope, helping local residents recover from SuperStorm Sandy, Dolores’ commitment to – and love for – her community is unwavering and unconditional. In addition to her work with Queens Community Board #14 and with Project Hope, Dolores has been the president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association for the past 12 years and is a Founding Member and Secretary of Friends of Tribute Park, where she also serves as event coordinator.
A graduate of Far Rockaway High School, Dolores earned her Associates degree in Pre-Physical Therapy at Kingsborough Community College. Prior to joining Project Hope, Dolores was a Corporate Trainer, Human Resources Administrator and Team Leader with Verizon Communications.
Rafael Pelli AIA, LEED AP
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
Rafael Pelli is a Partner of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects in New York. Rafael has advanced sustainable design principles in his work, completing award-winning (LEED Platinum) projects for commercial, residential, and academic buildings. He directed the design of the groundbreaking project known as the Solaire in Battery Park City, New York, a high-rise residential building that achieved significant milestones in sustainable design, and is considered the first ‘green’ multifamily residential building in the United States.
Rafael has directed the design for a wide range of projects, from large urban projects such as 731 Lexington Avenue (the Bloomberg Tower), to academic projects such as the Business Instructional Facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has served on the NYC Green Codes Task Force and Turner Construction’s Green Advisory Board. Rafael has worked with Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (formerly Cesar Pelli & Associates) since 1989, becoming a Partner of the firm in 1995. Rafael received a Bachelor of Arts in 1978 from Yale University and a Master of Architecture in 1985 from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
Richard Plunz has taught at Rensselaer and the Pennsylvania State University, and has held visiting positions at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Politecnico di Torino. He served as Chairman of the Division of Architecture at Columbia (1977-1980) and has been Director of the Urban Design Program since 1992.
Richard has conducted long-term research on architecture and urbanism in Italy and Turkey as well as the United States and he has received support from numerous sources including the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the J. M. Kaplan Fund. He received the Andrew J. Thomas Award from the American Institute of Architects for his work in housing (1991).
His projects and articles have been widely published. Among his books are Housing Form and Public Policy in the United States (1980); Design and the Public Good. Selected Writings, 1930-1980, by Serge Chermayeff (1982); A History of Housing in New York City. Dwelling Type and Social Change in the American Metropolis (1990); Two Adirondack Hamlets in History. Keene and Keene Valley (1999); The Urban Lifeworld (2001); After Shopping (2003). Professor Plunz received his BS in 1965, his Bachelors in Architecture in 1966, and his Master of Architecture in 1967 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Donovan Richards Jr.
Council Member, District 31
New York City Council
Donovan Richards Jr. is the New York City Council Member for District 31, representing Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, and the eastern portion of the Rockaway Peninsula including Arverne East and Far Rockaway. Prior to being elected to the city council in March, 2013, he served as Chief of Staff to Council Member James Sanders Jr. where he worked on many initiatives including the first Gun Buy Back program in the borough of Queens, which resulted in the removal of nearly 1000 guns from city streets.
Demonstrating a life-long commitment to community service prior to becoming actively engaged in politics, Donovan served as a missionary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; worked on the editorial staff of a publication promoting disabilities awareness; and has been a long-time and ardent activist against gun violence.
Donovan is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Effective Advocacy and Management Award by the Department of Education PAC, Title I Parents and the NAACP on behalf of the parents and children of PS 42Q; and other awards from the NYS Assembly, Far Rockaway NAACP, Rosedale Civic Association and the District 29 Education Council. He holds a degree in Aviation Management from Vaughn College of Aeronautics.
Byron is the founder and director of Level Infrastructure, providing sustainable infrastructure planning services for real estate developers, municipal governments and multilateral agencies. The practice delivers technical, policy and infrastructure implementation services for energy, water, transportation, and waste management with a global sustainability perspective that supports economic development for its clients.
Prior to Level Infrastructure, Byron was Associate Principal at Buro Happold. Byron holds a Master of Design in Environmental Planning from Harvard University, a Master of Science in Building Technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.
Vice President, Design Initiatives
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Katie Swenson is a national leader in sustainable design for low-income communities. Katie oversees National Design Initiatives for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., directing the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute and the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship , nurturing a new generation of community architects through hands-on experience and high-impact projects. Under her tutelage, 35 fellows are responsible for completing 7,000 units of housing and 46 community facilities. About 3,000 units are currently in the development pipeline, plus five community facilities. The program fellows remain leaders in community design, spearheading a national movement of architects back to community service and social activism.
Katie founded the Charlottesville Community Design Center and, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity led it to establish an influential and acclaimed international design competition. The competition’s innovative lessons are recounted in “Growing Urban Habitats: Seeking a New Housing Development Model, which Katie co-authored with William Morrish and Susanne Schindler. Named an emerging leader by the Design Futures Council, Katie is also listed among Steelcase’s prestigious Green Giants. Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the University of California-Berkeley and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia.
NYC Housing Preservation & Development
RuthAnne Visnauskas was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development in September, 2013. Prior to taking on this role, she was HPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Development, and was responsible for overseeing the annual housing production goals of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP) to finance the creation and preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by the end of the 2014 fiscal year.
RuthAnne began working at HPD in 2006, initially serving as Executive Director of Large Scale Planning before being promoted in 2008 to Assistant Commissioner for New Construction Finance where she led several agency initiatives including programs to develop middle-income housing. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Commissioner she served as Associate Commissioner for Preservation with a focus on creating financing strategies and programs to aid in the acquisition and rehabilitation of distressed multifamily properties throughout the City.
Prior to joining HPD, RuthAnne was the Director of Housing for Clinton Housing Development Company. She received a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Urban Planning from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. RuthAnne lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.