DANEI CESARIO, AIA, NCARB, NOMA
Name: Danei Cesario, AIA NCARB, NOMA
Firm: Francis Cauffman
Practicing City: New York
Type of Work: Healthcare and Corporate Interiors
Featured Project: New York University Ambulatory Facility
Location: New Hyde Park, Long Island, NY
Completion Date: May 2017
Your Role: Project Architect/Manager
Project Description: As part of NYU’s initiative to provide care to a wider patient population, the hospital has expanded its satellite ambulatory facilities throughout the state. This 15,000-square foot expansion includes Orthopedics and Pediatrics wings, Imaging Suite and a Medical Lab.
How did you first learn about architecture and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?
I was born in Manchester, England, but each of my parents has ties to opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.As a result, I moved almost annually until I was in university.I believe this transience spurred my love for the 'permanence' of buildings.
The year I turned six, I lived in London and moved to New York for the first time. Two places are responsible for my entry into architecture. The first is Christ Church, a gothic church with a massive steeple at the top of a hill in Forest Hill, southeast London.The second is Times Square.I remember asking my parents who built the buildings and how they did it and why they wanted to and how long it took to be completed...I spent the next two decades finding answers to those questions. Even at that early age, I understood that a space had the power to evoke different memories and emotions for every individual.I wanted to make those spaces.
What do you do?
I am the youngest Project Architect at my firm, which specializes in Healthcare. As a valued member of the team, I manage the overall coordination and execution of complex Healthcare and Infrastructure projects to ensure that the client’s investment and the finished space are aligned. Many of my projects have gone on to win awards and repeat work, which have garnered recognition in design excellence for the firm.
I actively advocate for design excellence and a diverse, inclusive profession and regularly represent Francis Cauffman at many local and national industry, academic events and speaking engagements.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love when a plan comes together and problem-solving when it does not. Being trained as an architect is a multifaceted education that affords you a deep toolbox. It is also a joy when a client is relaxed because they have confidence in your abilities and the standard of quality you have established through your work.
What excites you in the work you do?
The Healthcare sector has many guidelines and restrictions to provide optimal patient care.However, there are still many opportunities for innovation.It is exciting to present a unique design solution to a client and see the spark of interest as you offer an alternative way to forge forward with a new healthcare space.
Who or what inspires you professionally?
Beauty, creativity, and collaboration inspire me. Motherhood, risk and solution-oriented advocacy drive me.
In the past few years, I have met women who speak about themselves and their achievements solely in the past-tense. As a mother to two daughters, I realize that we are here,, and we need to be mindful of what we teach our girls about what it means to be female. It is not linear or monolithic. When I became licensed three years ago, I did not see many examples of young licensed female architects that were simultaneously navigating motherhood. It is very important to me to show our daughter that her passions are always worth pursuing and vital to her personal growth, regardless of her stage in life.
Risk has been the biggest propeller of my life and career. In anything we do, we take a gamble, hoping for the very best. However, when you are betting on your future-self, the risk is worth it. The best reward is being able to reflect on how fearless you were at one point and using that archived courage to propel you forward as you leap one more time.
My mission is to empower the unheralded by helping them to recognize their own value and worth.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement?
There was no greater elation than receiving confirmation from NCARB that I had passed all seven AREs; it was the culmination of over two decade's worth of diligence and an all-conquering passion for architecture. I am the 333rd Black female architect in US history, and there are still less than 400. My demographics represent less than 0.03% of the profession.
The arrival of my final score report signified so many milestones. Upon graduation in May of 2010, I made a vow to become a licensed architect within five years. I began working full-time, all the while accruing my IDP hours. In April of 2013, I sent in my final IDP report to NCARB and set a new goal-to complete my AREs within two years, start to finish.
I met my goals, finishing the AREs in less than eighteen months and five months before the five-year reunion festivities at my alma mater. I could finally, legally introduce myself as an architect. Now it was my turn to reinvest in my profession and assist future architects, just as so many others had done for me.
Since becoming an architect, I have volunteered my time and resources with ACE Mentorship Program, AIA Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and Women in Architecture and on the Board of nycobaNOMA. I want to continue the standard that nycobaNOMA has set and encourage others to continue navigating this beautifully complex profession.
How long have you been involved with nycoba NOMA?
Although I frequented nycobaNOMA events as a student and recent graduate, I have been involved for about two years in an Executive/Advisory Board capacity.
Why are you a nycoba NOMA member?
My first architectural job was in an and building code consulting firm.There, I worked on prestigious projects with respected architects like Garrison McNeil, Alfred Eatman, Zevilla Jackson-Preston and Roberta Washington.The camaraderie between these legends was inspiring and an element that I wanted to perpetuate in my own career.
Further, nycobaNOMA sheds light on social issues specific to an under-represented portion of the AEC professional community.Being active in the socio-political arena of my profession gives agency to the diverse voices of my present and future colleagues. My roles as Chair of Diversity and Inclusion Committee at American Institute of Architects and Advisory Board Member of National Organization of Minority Architects have helped to advocate for improved equity for other architects.
What do you value most about your nycoba NOMA membership?
I value the quality interactions that my nycobaNOMA membership affords me. It is a platform for its members to share their experiences and knowledge with each other and a wider public. Through my work as Chair of Diversity and Inclusion at AIA New York, several of my fellow nycobaNOMA members and I recently secured a research grant to examine the disparity between the vast range of cultural and gender representation in Academia and that of the Workplace.
The Architectural profession requires a cultural shift to reflect the rapidly-changing demographics of the people we serve. Our research initiative to build on existing local, state and national Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) efforts, and better understand the issue of attrition within our local professional demographics. Ultimately, our goal is for this research to eventuate into a published report.