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4/18/24, 6:30pm - 8pm
Center for Architecture and Zoom

This meeting is offered at the Center for Architecture and on Zoom. Please email for details on how to join virtually.

How can we design for wellness and create a sense of place and belonging in historically underserved neighborhoods? For WIA’s April committee meeting, we are pleased to host the women-led architecture team from Dattner Architects, Jen Switala, AIA, Senior Associate; Deniz Secilmis, Senior Architect and Kavya Cherala, Project Designer. They will present the award-winning Alafia, a wellness-oriented resilient development on a 25+acre decommissioned public site, designed to address the chronic social, economic, and health disparities in a historically underserved area. The master plan for the full development was designed by Dattner Architects as the first project released under New York State’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative. The discussion will focus on the design and construction of the first phase of the plan, which is scheduled to be completed in June 2025. This includes 575 affordable/ supportive residential units, a clinic operated by One Brooklyn Health, offices for Services for the Underserved, parking, and neighborhood retail spaces; and a maintenance hub, with on-site trash handling and composting in support of the entire new development. The building will be all-electric, utilize geothermal pumps, include rooftop solar, and rely on a wastewater heat-recovery system.


  • Upcoming WIA Programs and Events
  • Around Town and Related Events
  • Member Announcements
  • Design & Leadership Series: ‘Alafia’ Presentation
  • Discussion

About the Speakers:

Jen Switala, AIA, is a Senior Associate at Dattner Architects, guided on the belief that architecture evokes different responses in each individual, and that this results in a meaningful complexity to the urban realm. With a diverse background of project experience, Jen has designed affordable and supportive housing, commercial buildings, and comprehensive master plans. She leads Dattner Architects’ R&D Co:Lab, which is focused on examining vital issues confronting the built environment.

A New Yorker for most of her life, Deniz Secilmis, RA, LEED AP, CPHD, is committed to bringing sustainability, equity, design, and economy to the forefront through her work. She enjoys seeing projects through from start to finish—beginning with the big picture and getting into the details of design and construction. She has experience working on a breadth of projects, including mixed-use, restoration, and residential with a focus on multi-family Passive House. Deniz is a Senior Architect at Dattner Architects and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University.

Kavyashri Cherala, LEED AP BD+C, is a Project Designer at Dattner Architects and focuses on affordable and supportive housing in New York City. Previously, Cherala worked at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, where she was involved in the design of various planning, institutional and commercial projects. She also has experience working with non-profits and community organizations to create equitable public space in New York City neighborhoods disproportionately affected by urban heat. She serves as the Media Communication Manager for the New York Chapter’s Women in Architecture Committee.

The committees of AIA New York are the foundations from which the Chapter positions itself in the field of architecture, whether through discussion, advocacy, policy making and development, event and exhibition planning, or other endeavors.

Committees meet monthly, usually at the Center for Architecture. AIA members, AIA associate members, and general public are all welcome to participate.

If you have questions or are considering attending a meeting for the first time, contact each committee’s co-chairs for more information at

Organized by
AIANY Women in Architecture Committee
4/18/24, 6:30pm - 8pm
Center for Architecture and Zoom
Group 6 Created with Sketch.


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