By Frank Fortino
On March 9, the Pratt Institute hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Research Yard of Pratt Institute, City Tech, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I had the privilege of attending the event as a member of the Board of Trustees for the IDC Foundation, which supported the project with a $1 million grant.
Located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the 20,000-square-foot research facility houses three initiatives:
- IDC Research Accelerator Hub. This space will develop partnerships and connections as part of a platform for exploring innovative solutions to pressing challenges.
- Research Accelerator Mentoring Program. This program will provide seed funding to advance initiatives and research projects while bringing together leading experts and emerging researchers.
- Accelerator Research Faculty. This project-based position will facilitate mentorship and help guide accelerator projects.
The sneak preview took place the day before the 2023 Pratt Institute Research Open House (ROH). The annual event, launched in 2018, invites the public to learn about the diverse research initiatives at Pratt, showcasing the institution’s strengths as a design and architectural school with expanding capabilities.
Supporting a Creative, Sustainable Future
As an institute of higher learning, Pratt has used the Research Yard to integrate diverse educational programs and create an incubator for truly innovative solutions to real-world challenges. Among the specialized areas in the IDC Research Accelerator Hub are the following:
- The Laboratory for Integrated Archaeological Visualization and Heritage (LIAVH) uses contemporary data analytics to uncover archaeological information and narratives, based on participatory and community-based, antiracist methodologies.
- The “Making and Breaking” project in the Future of Jewelry Research Accelerator combines jewelry-making and publishing to engage with the community, industries, materials, and technologies surrounding the Brooklyn Navy Yard through a social and environmental lens.
- The Co-Housing Center will continue the IDC funding model of uniting distinct, but overlapping projects related to housing futures in urban contexts. Faculty at the School of Architecture (SoA) Housing Research Center will collaborate with expert consultants to develop innovative solutions for the U.S. housing crisis.
- Several accelerators will tackle complementary aspects of the climate change crisis, including the RAMP (Recover, Adapt, Mitigate, Plan) Research Center, the Environmental Exploration Lab, and the Center for Climate Adaptation.
- The Center for Art, Design, and Community Engagement K–12 provides access to art and design instruction for school-age children, citywide public schools, and youth-serving organizations.
I especially love the fact that Pratt invites younger minds to participate in these programs, showing K-12 students how they can learn from each other and teaching them to accelerate their creative thinking.
Learning from One Another
Today’s educational environment is completely different from the one in which I grew up, back when I attended the Institute of Design and Construction before earning my architectural degree from the New York Institute of Technology. It’s part of the reason why I accepted the invitation to join the IDC Foundation board. Partnering with institutions like Pratt and Columbia University and Cooper Union, which all take a different approach to preparing future leaders, we learn from each other.
Seeing firsthand what these leading universities are doing today gives us a better perspective of what the future holds. Not only does this inside look help me keep my finger on the pulse of the design and construction industry, but it allows us to guide Metropolis clients to succeed in the world of today—and tomorrow.