Build It Forward


A few months ago, we started putting plans in place to celebrate our firm’s 50th anniversary. Cheers to us!

After pouring some bubbly, we talked about what defined us as a company and what mattered most to our team. The one topic that came up time and time again was giving back. So, how could we celebrate our own milestone while paying our good fortune forward? With a little good spirited competition, of course.

SEE ALSO: Downtown L.A.’s Oceanwide Plaza Project Stalls Again as Stalking Horse Bidder Falls Through

We decided to commit more fully to one of our favorite company-wide causes: Habitat for Humanity. Spector Group partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Nassau County, forming an alliance to create an innovative, affordable and energy-efficient design for future homes for those in need. To make it even more personal, we took the challenge in-house, asking our own architectural staff to submit designs for a residence that embodied the fundamental tenets of Habitat for Humanity’s mission, as well as our firm’s design philosophy and expertise.

Several Spector architects dove right into the challenge and many others offered support, encouragement and ideas. It became the very kind of team building exercise that we discussed a few weeks back in this column. In total, nine excellent designs were submitted for evaluation, which were later narrowed down to the five entries that met the organization’s budget, constructability and design needs. Then, four judges were brought in for an unveiling and charged with making the final selection, based on cost effectiveness, design context to the surrounding houses and overall practicality, determining which of the designs would be executed for a residence to be built later this summer at 111 Woods Avenue, in Roosevelt, New York.

Each came from different professional backgrounds. They included: Habitat Executive Director Michael Pfeiffer; a Habitat home owner; County Executive Ed Mangano; Kevin S. Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association; Joe Cenzoprano, Tritec Real Estate Company; and Carlos Mendes, team captain of the New York Cosmos.

The selected design — “Habitat Haus” — was created by Kate Mulry, an intermediate architect in our New York City office. It featured efficient systems, modern comforts and amenities and green design elements, including solar panels, a rainwater filtration system and a thermal mass wall. Best of all, each of the five submissions met with enthusiastic reviews from the panel and were considered possible designs for future Habitat projects.

As permits are put into place for the winning design — one that will make a special family’s lifelong dream come true— we’re making our own next plan: an invitation to all of our team members to join us for the groundbreaking. We hope many will head out of the office later this summer to swing a hammer and help us build this house for a deserving family. We could not be more proud of what we’ve accomplished over this past five decades, and, more importantly, about the great work we’ll be able to do in the years to come.

Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 2,000 projects.