Name: Venesa Alicea


Firm: Dattner Architects


Practicing City: New York City


Type of Work: Civic Architecture: Cultural, Educational, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Planning/Urban Design, Parks & Recreation, Transportation, and Housing.


Venesa Alicea AIA, NOMA, LEED AP BD+C is an Associate at Dattner Architects. A native New Yorker and registered Architect in NYS, she is wholly committed our civic architecture, and encouraging community engagement through design practices. She has been involved in Dattner Architects’ sustainability initiatives as a member of the Sustainable Practice Group and serves as the Firms Architect Licensing Advisor. Her interests converge in architecture and public policy where good design, both sustainable and socially conscious, can influence the development of buildings, communities, and neighborhoods within our city. Through her leadership roles with the AIA she is well known as a tireless advocate for diversity and professional development of students and young professionals. She currently sits on the AIANY Board of Directors as the Alternate Director for Professional Development, and serves as Co-Chair of the AIANY Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She has worked with nycobaNOMA since 2013 in helping organize the J. Max Bond. Jr. Lecture at the Center for Architecture.


Featured Project: Via Verde

Location: Bronx , New York

Completion Date: 2012

Your Role: Project Architect

Project Description: Via Verde is an affordable, sustainable residential development providing for healthy, urban living in the South Bronx. The winning entry in the New Housing New York Legacy Competition, it reflects a public commitment to create the next generation of social housing. 222 apartments are arranged in three distinct building types—a 20-story tower at the north end of the site, a 6- to 13-story mid-rise duplex apartment component, and 2- to 4-story townhouses to the south around a series of gardens. They begin at a ground level courtyard and spiral upwards through a series of programmed, south-facing roof gardens, creating a promenade for residents. The ground floor features retail, a community health center, and live-work units, creating a lively street presence. With a 66 kW building-integrated photovoltaic system , green roof, community vegetable gardens, green interior nishes, rainwater harvesting and drought tolerant vegetation, the building is LEED NC Gold certified. Dattner Architects designed the project in association with Grimshaw Architects. Lee Weintraub was the Landscape Architect and it was built by Lettire Construction. It has won awards from Urban Land Institute, AIA, and Rudy Bruner and been published internationally.




How did you first learn about architecture and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

I can’t recall when I first learned about Architecture, it was always something I was surrounded with. My Uncle is an Architect, and I spent time when I was little in Puerto Rico when he was designing and building a house for his Father my grandfather. This is the same house I would spend my summers in. My stepfather is a cabinet maker, so I spent a lot of my time growing up helping him in the wood shop. When I had to choose a Major my Junior Year at Brooklyn Technical High School I was between Latin American Literature and Architecture. I chose Architecture mainly because it was something I was familiar with and I loved Building things.


What do you do?

I am an Associate at Dattner Architects. Over the last 9 ½ years I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of different project types, community centers, schools and most recently affordable & supportive housing. I lead the office architectural experience program (AXP) lunches which are meant to provide an opportunity for staff working towards completing the NCARB AXP ( formerly known as IDP) gain experience in areas they need in order to complete the program and be sure the office has the resources needed for those studying for the Architect Registration Examination. I am also involved in the Dattner Architects’ sustainability initiatives as a member of the Sustainable Practice Group.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love that we work on Civic Architecture & Infrastructure. They are spaces that are needed by the city and the people.


What excites you in the work you do?

Being able to see and use the spaces we work on and being able to hear the stories of the people who are using the space and how it can and has transformed their lives.


Who or what inspires you professionally?

Action. I am inspired by people who challenge the status quo so they can be a part of the Change that they want to see in our Cities. I am inspired by the work of J. Max Bond Jr. I am inspired by the work of the Design Trust for Public Space through the Leadership of Susan Chin. I am inspired by Whitney M. Young Jr, and his call to action to Architects in 1968. I am inspired by the amazing work of all of the AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award Winners.


What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement?

This is a tough question, as it hard to identify only one. I would have to say in December of 2010, I became a Registered Architect in NYS, that was a Huge milestone for me. I was fortunate in 2009 to be a recipient of the AIA Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholarship, which granted me the costs of the exams and a FREE set of Study Guides. I also was fortunate to have worked on Via Verde – The Green Way, an affordable, sustainable Housing Project in the South Bronx. I joined the team toward the end of Design Development, through Construction Documents and was excited to part of the Construction Administration team to make sure the Building stayed true to the vision and design intent presented in the Competition. My experience working on this project brought to light many of the challenges in creating sustainable affordable housing. This project was a result of a competition sponsored by the New York City HPD, NYSERDA and Enterprise Community Partners and hosted by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, looking for prototypes for sustainable affordable housing.


How long have you been involved with nycoba NOMA?

I first joined in 2007, and have recently become a more active member.


Why are you a nycoba NOMA member?

I am a NOMA member because I believe we need to support organizations that are championing Diversity within the design professions.


What do you value most about your nycoba NOMA membership?

I value the importance that NOMA members put on Mentoring within the profession. At my first NOMA conference in Philly in 2014, I remember going to the first keynote session, and before they introduced Paola Moya the keynote speaker and before they made any other announcements, they invited all of the recently licensed Architects to stand up and come to the front of the stage to be recognized for their achievements. That was such a powerful moment for me, to see all of these recently licensed Architects of Color so Proud to be recognized by their Peers and Mentors.