Jonathan Kirschenfeld is a New York architect widely known for his leadership in social housing design. Kirschenfeld is the founder and principle of Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architect PC, a firm specializing in environmentally and socially sustainable urban housing, childcare, recreation, and performance facilities, as well as the founder of the Institute for Public Architecture, a non-profit which promotes socially responsible architecture through urban research projects. He was the recipient of the inaugural 2014 HH Richardson Award for Public Architecture given by NY State Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architect PC has designed numerous supportive housing projects throughout New York, each of which combines housing with social services intended to help residents transcend chronic homelessness. Kirschenfeld’s method focuses on identifying under-utilized portions of civic land which have been passed over for private development, and bringing world-class design to the city’s neediest residents. By pushing the expectations of what supportive housing can be, Kirschenfeld’s projects have elevated the neighborhoods in which they’re situated.
Kirschenfeld has been at the front of a new wave of thinking over the last few decades. The twentieth century’s efforts at social housing often focused on the physical building at the exclusion of amenities which actually create community. Acknowledging the failure of many social housing experiments throughout the twentieth century, many of today’s designers look beyond the building. Community is nourished by amenities, public health, dignity and respect. The work of Kirscheneld and IPA has deftly shown how such considerations can be drawn into the designer’s purview, and create better architecture.
Beyond housing, Kirschenfeld has also drawn international distinction for the re-purposing of a cargo vessel into the Floating Pool. The Floating Pool hosted over 50,000 visitors during its eight week season, and won an international 2007 Award of Excellence from the Waterfront Center. The Pool was also honored as the runner-up in the prestigious 2007 Cooper-Hewitt Museum People’s Choice Design Award, and has received a 2008 Masterwork Award, among other awards.
Jonathan joined us for a conversation with Brenda Rosen of Breaking Ground on February 2nd, 2017 where we tackled the right to housing in the neoliberal era.