Twenty-two owners, architects and engineers will be presented with Chamber of Commerce awards on Thursday for improving Queens’ landscape, one building at a time.
Since 1926, the Queens Chamber of Commerce has sponsored the Building Awards as a way of encouraging the design and construction of more attractive buildings throughout the borough.
“It’s really to celebrate all the individuals who have contributed to the improvement of Queens,” said Bill Egan, executive vice president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
Competition was especially fierce this year, with 140 entrants, up from 26 just three years ago. While talk of overdevelopment infringing on residents’ quality of life is rampant, Egan says the number of entries indicates positive growth.
“I think it does speak about Queens as a vibrant, developing borough,” he said. “Competition getting keener each year is a good thing.”
The buildings represent how residents work, study, worship and play. They include a Filipino church, a Volkswagen dealership, a public school and a mall. They are as well-known as the Hall of Science and as obscure as the interior of a private garden. All were substantially completed over the past two years. They are either newly constructed or rehabilitated buildings, open or enclosed public and private spaces.
Owners of the selected buildings will receive a bronze plaque for their structure, like the ones that adorn numerous buildings throughout the borough.
Alan Anderson, an architect and senior partner at Anderson, LaRocca, Anderson and Haynes will be honored for the design of PS 268 in Jamaica. The firm has more than 30 years of experience designing schools. PS 268 was designed with a recent study in mind that showed natural light and good acoustics improve students’ classroom performance.
“We are very sensitive to the needs of young children and the community’s need to have something that’s a symbol in the neighborhood,” he said.
In Flushing, Gardena Place, a shopping Plaza, is one of the winners for best new commercial construction. Namir Youssef, the building’s architect, attributes the award to the simplicity of the design. “It’s not a complicated building,” he said. “It’s not gaudy or ugly. It’s designed to look like a suburban shopping center.”
The only garden to win an award belongs to Viviana and Michael Lezamiz, who won an award for artistic community improvements. Their Bayside garden features a Japanese walking tree, a Japanese dwarf tree, berry bushes and flowers that are replaced with each season. “Being a corner property makes the garden more striking,” Viviana Lezamiz said. “It’s really exciting (to win the award) because we just did the landscaping this year.”
In Whitestone, John Caiazzo designed his home to fit in with the Tudor houses in the neighborhood. He imported simulated limestone from North Carolina and included a colonnade front entrance. “I didn’t want it to be one of the monsters that developers are building today,” said Caiazzo, who lives in the home with his wife.
One of two churches to win an award for religious construction is Iglesia Ni Christo, designed by Rudy Quiambao. The Filipino Church of Christ in Forest Hills has fiberglass walls and a fiberglass spire. “It’s a little different,” Quiambao said. “It’s pleasing to the eye.” The second church that will be presented with an award is Bethlehem Church in Queens Village.
The other Building Award winners are: the Jamaica AirTrain Terminal, Maspeth Plaza, “The Brittania” in the Rockaways, “Architots” in Middle Village, College Tower in College Point, Koeppel Volkswagen in Woodside, the Lemodetis residence in Astoria, Steinway Corporation in Astoria, Six Friends in Maspeth, Queens’ College’s Powdermaker Hall, the PEP Early Intervention Center in Jamaica, the Shafran residence, the Latkovic residence in Bayside, the New York Hall of Science and Magnolia Court in Ozone Park.