Zhulang Huagai on Dezeen Longlist for Inaugural Award

Posted on July 26th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Awards, Urban Design

Our collaborative project Zhulang Huagai: A Figure for Nantou Village is longlisted for a Dezeen Award in the Small Structures category. The full longlist of projects includes 218 works selected from over 3,500 entries. To see the full list of projects check Dezeen’s 2018 Award website HERE.

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Collaborating with Cooper

Posted on February 6th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Installations + Exhibitions, The Cooper Union, Urban Design

NADAAA collaborated recently with two students from The Cooper Union to realize a new pavilion for the Shenzhen Biennale in the Nantou Urban Village of Shenzhen. The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper interviewed the students, Margaux Wheelock-Shew and Jeremy Son, on their experience of collaborating with a design office to complete a built project. Read the interview HERE.

The next big surprise: somebody over there decided it should be permanent, though it had originally been designed to be dismantled. So, the Chinese welded the joints and sank it into concrete. There is some irony to this because of all the designs the team came up with, the one they meant to be impermanent was the one with the scaffolding. “That thing is not going anywhere,” Margaux says. Tehrani added: “Moreover, it is an important recognition that such initiatives can be in service of a larger civic mission that contributes back to the community in which it is lodged.”

photo by Lea Bertucci, The Cooper Union

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Justice in Design

Posted on July 13th, 2017 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Press, Urban Design



NADAAA’s collaborative report to develop guidelines and opportunities for forward-thinking jail design has been released to the public. This report was created with the Van Alen Institute and The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform to explore how design could make “A More Just New York City”. The findings in the report develop innovative design and programming guidelines for future decentralized jails—termed Justice Hubs. Justice Hubs are facilities that create healthy, normative environments and support rehabilitation for incarcerated or detained individuals, while simultaneously providing neighborhoods with new public amenities.

These facilities take into account the context of surrounding communities. The guidelines offer resources for all neighborhood residents, reducing the fear and stigma surrounding jails while providing shared amenities, such as community gardens, art studios, exercise facilities, medical clinics, and social services. Calling for on-site programs such as job training centers, community courts, a police department, and probation offices, the guidelines position Justice Hubs as public sites of civic unity with integrated ways for detainees to return to life in the city, restoring dignity to people who are incarcerated while making the criminal justice system more visible, accountable, and responsive.

The full report can be downloaded as a pdf HERE, below is a summary.


Rikers Island affects people from every borough, creating intertwined challenges for detainees, their families, correction staff, and city residents. The isolated location, harsh environments, and challenging protocols make for spaces that are dehumanizing, unhealthy, and unsafe for many that come into contact with it. Closing Rikers would relieve the knot of tension and harm that these jails create.


A series of workshops in three New York City boroughs were instrumental in establishing the design principles of our work. In addition to the workshops, the team also toured two existing jails, attended Independent Commission round-table discussions, and met with family members of people who were detained and with former correction officers. The workshops, site-visits, and round-tables affirmed the urgent need to close Rikers Island and develop a new generation of jails.



Consideration of supervisory, programmatic, operational, quality of life, and design elements in the interior configurations of spaces is essential for healthier residential life for inmates, detainees, and officers. These five elements are the foundation of our design principles for residential life, which can be used in both existing and new facilities: direct supervision, connection to embedded program spaces, manage sensory stimulation in physical environment, streamline the intake and release processes, and re-conceive medical and behavioral health service processes.


Organizational, personnel, and aesthetic changes in the processing of information, staff interactions, improvement of furnishings, lighting conditions, access to outdoors, and views would tangibly improve a person’s ability to visit someone who has been detained, as well as normalizing the meeting experience itself.



Justice Hubs are a new model for detention in New York City. Located in each of the boroughs near existing courts and municipal buildings, these new facilities offer an innovative opportunity for a justice system that is fair and responsive to different communities throughout New York City. Rikers Island is an isolated, violence-plagued, fiscal drain on the city. The Hubs’ locations and state-of-the-art design offers:

1. Reduced time and resources needed for individuals to move to and from courts.
2. Modern facilities that are safe on the inside and reflect the look and feel of the neighborhood on the outside.
3. Increased accountability and community connection.
4. Improved court efficiency that eases strain on inmates and staff.
5. More effective and efficient programming and services that address mental health and criminal justice issues that ultimately lower the jail population.
6. The creation of a civic resource, integrated into the neighborhood providing communities with much needed services and facilities.


Communities are defined by a diversity of people utilizing an array of places and programs in the City.  The location, programming and services provided at a Justice Hub will benefit  detainees, their families, jail staff and the broader community.



A Justice Hub benefits the detainee by providing a faster judicial process, better access to health services and programming, more frequent access to family visits and legal support, and more calming living spaces.


A Justice Hub enables family members of detainees and inmates the opportunity to see loved ones without traveling long distances, and creates a safe and friendly environment for visitation.


People engage city elements in specific ways and share coincidental connections. Realizing our connectedness can help shape a positive understanding of who we are and how we define New York City.


A single civic entry at street level shared by all who use the building establishes a common threshold for everyone to enter—whether worker, visitor, or the general public using other programs. This powerful and simple idea identifies a building for all users to take advantage of what the Justice Hub has to offer. For an institution to be perceived as part of the culture and integral to the identity of the community, the design language of the building itself must embody civic ideals. To do so, the institution and its surroundings must serve existing programs yet remain flexible for future needs, address their context, symbolize a larger ethos and civic identity, and connect with public aspirations.


As the city moves toward a future with a system of borough-based courts and jails, these new buildings must become an integral part of the city, borough, neighborhood, and civic experience for all New Yorkers. No longer should they stand isolated from the surrounding context.


More resources:

The Mayor’s resolution to close Rikers Island: Smaller Safer Fairer: A Road Map to Closing Rikers Island

The Independent Commission Report: A More Just New York City

Justice in Design Workshop Process


Justice in Design Team:

Our team was led by NADAAA principals Dan Gallagher, AIA and Nader Tehrani with a key multi-disciplinary group including Susan Gottesfeld of the Osborne Association; Karen Kubey, urbanist; with Susan Opotow and Jayne Mooney of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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NADAAA collaborating with the Van Alen Institute

Posted on June 23rd, 2017 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Events, Urban Design

Over the past six months NADAAA has been engaged with the Van Alen Institute and The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform to develop design guidelines for a healthier and more just New York City jail system. Our team was led by NADAAA principals Dan Gallagher, AIA and Nader Tehrani with a multi-disciplinary group including Susan Gottesfeld of the Osborne Association; Susan Opotow and Jayne Mooney of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York; and Karen Kubey, urbanist. Through the efforts of Speaker Mark-Viverito and former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman this undertaking was launched. Following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent resolution for the closure of Rikers Island the study could not have been more timely. The process has involved workshops in Queens, The Bronx, and Brooklyn which included members of the community, former inmates, former corrections officers, and family members. Read more about the process on the Van Alen Institute’s website HERE.

The Bronx workshop

The Bronx workshop

NADAAA’s Dan Gallagher at the Queens workshop

Brooklyn Workshop

All workshop photos by Cameron Blaylock



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New Intellectual Geographies

Posted on March 6th, 2017 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Urban Design

Nader writes for TRANS—FER on how sustainability in architecture is evolving. Or read the full essay HERE.

“we can imagine the recalibration of a world that humans have impacted beyond what nature has offered on its own terms. The delicate balance of forestation, agriculture, global and local interactions, the environmental impacts that transcend political boundaries, all bring a global perspective to the design of “geographies”, a scale often neglected in the design of urbanism.”


“Port to Port”: a visual exploration of energy shipping routes around the world. Columbia Center for Spatial Research. Project Director: Laura Kurgan.

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Posted on January 27th, 2017 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Press, Urban Design

Rikers Island Officers Assaulted

From the site:

How can we create designs that are more healthy, rehabilitative, and respectful to those in jail and the communities that interact with them?

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, with Van Alen Institute, launched the Justice in Design initiative to develop design ideas for a healthier and more effective New York City jail system.  The project aims to develop innovative, realistic, and progressive programming and design guidelines for new jail facilities. The Commission will use this work to inform jail facility design principles within the report.

The selected Justice in Design project team consists of NADAAA, an award-winning architectural and design firm based in New York City and Boston, Susan Gottesfeld of the Osborne Association, Susan Opotow of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Karen Kubey, an urbanist specializing in housing and health.

Read more HERE.



Posted on November 21st, 2016 by Katie Faulkner

Posted under: Urban Design

Last week was an interesting one for mavens of Boston’s housing scene. Mayor Walsh made an appearance at ABX, on the “Boston You’re Our Home” panel discussion.  Although the Mayor left the room before the Q + A, he did listen to the presentations of his fellow panelists, as well as contribute a few remarks of his own, queuing up Imagine Boston Expanding Opportunity, the City’s 2030 draft plan of priority initiatives which was released two days later (final master plan to come out next year). Kudos to whomever designed the program for this ABX session – the perspectives were different and fascinating.  In his opening remarks, Mayor Walsh reminded the room that Boston is more than halfway toward meeting its goal of 53,000 new dwelling units by year 2030. Tamara Roy, current BSA president, echoed her long-held championship of small housing units, most recently touring the city with Uhu, a 385-square foot prefabricated urban house.  Kimberly Sherman Stamler, the young and articulate president of Related-Beal, effectively communicated the complex web of partnerships required to achieve success for her firm’s mixed-use Parcel 1B. Finally, Mark Erlich (Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Carpenter’s Local 40) tempered the festive mood with harrowing statistics of under-paid construction workers.  Something we all know, even if we do not think about it, is that the low-bid system encourages cutting labor costs (see Beth Healy and Meghan Woolhouse, September 18th Globe Spotlight article HERE).



The takeaway was thus: Boston is building 53,000 new dwellings, and they are going to be small.  In order to “make the numbers work,” there will be city-sponsored partnerships with developers, and some percentage of the construction workers are likely to be undocumented and/or under-paid.   Thus as architects, we should understand the landscape (literally) as we contribute our part to this building boom. As Dr. Krakower said to Carmela Soprano: One thing you can never say: You haven’t been told.


Keeping it Big Around the Edges

The 152-page Expanding Opportunity report is a colorful, easy read, and indicative of the trends and preferences of Boston’s housing cognoscenti. Consistent with the panel’s focus, the 2030 document is concerned with significantly increasing housing stock without sacrificing Boston’s unique urban character. The document presents much to be hopeful about: a reasonable percentage of low, moderate, and mid-level housing; healthy, walkable neighborhoods with open space and access to public transit; prioritization of good education with economic opportunity; reduction of green house gases; support for smart-city technology; and a commitment to arts and culture. Potentially troubling however is the “Expand the Neighborhoods” chapter.  Let’s face it. 53,000 is a lot of apartment, and Boston is an old city without much frontier. So in order to hit the number, you are going up or pushing out.  Given that skyscrapers are near impossible – thwarted by the FAA, geology, and general disdain for ostentation  – Boston will see more of the latter, mega-blocks at the edges of neighborhoods with hundreds of small to mid-sized rental units. A ride to Forest Hills on the Orange Line takes one by some mighty big sites. You have to wonder what Jane Jacobs would say about the bigness and sameness going up in the name of transit-oriented development.  Admittedly, these parcels were created by the kind of urban planning that put I-93 between the South End and South Boston, but simply extruding big parcels does not create the kind of density that sponsors the honorable initiatives proposed by the Mayor’s team.


According to the Mayor’s report, “in workshops and on-line”, Boston residents agreed that the edge areas – those industrial blocks in neighborhoods like Allston, Sullivan Square, Roxbury, and Readville – are places where Boston can grown.  Of course this makes sense because no one lives there to object, and in many cases, the parcels are changing use from something like a transit depot to affordable dwellings.  If we do not want to become like San Francisco, a beautiful city where most of us could never afford to live, we have to increase the supply to meet the demand.  As someone from the Mayor’s office noted, “the units have to go somewhere.”


The authors of the plan are doing a good job reaching the neighborhoods, and odds are strong that the 2030 plan will sponsor positive outcomes.  These are smart people who know that mixed-use development depends on the success of ground floor retail, walk-able sidewalks with civic destinations (libraries, parks, schools), with more than one primary function so that people are going outdoors on different schedules, at different times of day.  Smaller blocks facilitate mixed use because smaller businesses have a chance to participate in the mix.  If you want to see another Flour, Clover, Boomerangs, Newbury Comics, or Haley House grow its business in your neighborhood, look for smaller building footprints punctuated by cross streets.

A few months ago, in her article Boston is Getting Really Expensive, Rachel Slade called out the fact that many of us already cannot afford to live here. That creative class that I like to think I’m a part of, is seeking more-affordable towns, taking Boston’s funkier side with them: “I hope you like T. J. Maxx and Starbucks” Slade says, because all the cool people are leaving. She’s right, and the best way to solve this problem is to increase the supply of housing, accessible to multiple income levels.  And those units have to go somewhere- but perhaps not all of them need go on the same block.






Posted on February 15th, 2016 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Press, Urban Design

As part of the Green Line Extension into Somerville the MBTA has been working with designers and artists to create public art for the new stations. The art is conceived not only in its aesthetic capacity to captivate, but also to engage the public realm, to orient and give identity to the specificity of the place, to serve as an educational or pedagogical instrument, among other things to expand the definition of what art can serve. The pedestrian experience under and over bridges are considered and community paths connect sides of the train lines. NADAAA was engaged to create art installations for the new Washington Street Station. We have approached this project to give civic prominence to a piece of infrastructure that would otherwise be seen as a mere extension of transportation. In engaging the train system, cars, bikes and pedestrians, we also acknowledge that the public travels through the site in many ways, and thus experiences the place from a different vantage point. The language of our intervention speaks to the industrial landscape of which it is a part, transforming it to transcend its common terms.

1 – a projectile fence that guards the walkway along the bridge where it stretches over Washington Street


2 – a mural on the underbelly of the bridge


L:NADAAA Projects1408_GLXXXXX.09 DRAWINGSXX.09.00 Pre-Schema


3 – a bench that runs along the entry hall made out of perforated steel panels. the perforations depict snippets from the MBTA safety manual


The Green Line Extension is currently on hold, but check here when work begins again for construction updates.


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Posted on January 26th, 2016 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: _Tanderrum Bridge, Things We Like, Urban Design

You can help name the new footbridge NADAAA and JWA have designed that will connect Melbourne Park and Birrarung Marr by crossing over Batman Avenue. Vote HERE. (P.S. We’re still partial to “Batman Bridge”)



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Batman Bridge in Context

Posted on January 25th, 2016 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: _Tanderrum Bridge, construction, Urban Design

Get a glimpse of the next phase of the Melbourne Park Redevelopment with a flyover of Batman Bridge.


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