On January 1, 2021, SOM Managing Partner Kenneth A Lewis, AIA, and SOM Director Kristopher Takacs, AIA, began new roles as the presidents of their local AIA chapters. Lewis is the President of AIA New York, the largest local chapter in the country, and Takacs has assumed the same role for AIA Washington, D.C. In these positions, they will set the directions for each organization in the coming year, with plans to foster carbon neutrality, post-pandemic recovery, and equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the industry.
For AIA New York, Lewis’ president’s theme for 2021 will be “Reflection/Inflection.” In keeping with the 20th anniversary year of 9/11, and as we enter a critical inflection point following the calamities of 2020, the chapter and its leadership will organize events and advocacy campaigns that aim to examine how the AIA, and the profession, can emerge stronger after this tumultuous year, as well as how architects can contribute to the many challenges facing our cities. A few of the many topics this theme will touch upon include social justice, education reform, urban mobility, the disproportionate impacts of climate change on underserved communities, and increasing BIPOC representation in the profession.
Since joining SOM in 1986, Lewis has managed a diverse range of projects across the globe, including mixed-use developments, commercial, hotel and residential towers, adaptive reuse projects, corporate headquarters, and healthcare facilities. With a special focus on New York, he has managed and brought to successful completion many projects of enormous scale, complexity, and visibility, including the award-winning One Columbus Center (formerly Time Warner Center), 7 World Trade Center, One World Trade Center, and 35 Hudson Yards. Lewis is currently leading the construction of Manhattan West, a new, seven-million-square-foot, mixed use development built above active railroad tracks where minimal buildable land existed. SOM master planned the project, designed each of its four towers, and renovated the one existing loft building on site. Lewis is also leading the complete ground-up renovation and transformation of the landmark Waldorf Astoria and the repositioning of One Columbus Center into Deutsche Bank’s New York headquarters. He currently sits on the Urban Green Council Board of Directors, the Center for Architecture Board of Trustees, and the Architectural Review Board of Irvington, New York.
Takacs will work to empower the Washington, D.C. chapter and its members to create a more just future. Leading the chapter’s boards of directors and its sixteen committees, Takacs will focus AIA DC’s collective energy around equity, climate change, and improving urban life. The chapter will aim to break down barriers in the profession for women and People of Color, and increase membership and board representation to mirror the demographics of the nation’s capital city. Takacs and AIA DC will reinforce the chapter’s goals to significantly reduce carbon emissions in alignment with the Sustainable DC, Clean Energy DC, and Climate Ready DC plans. They will also promote resilient post-pandemic design and neighborhood vitality in each of the city’s eight wards.
Takacs leads SOM’s regional office in Washington, D.C. He steers the office’s work in large-scale mixed-use development, commercial office, cultural, government, education, transportation, and other markets. As a transportation specialist, Takacs is an advocate for multi-modalism and pedestrian-prioritized city design. He has shaped more than 40 projects addressing urban mobility through metro mass transit, light rail transit, commuter rail, high-speed rail, and intermodal hubs. Some of his most notable, boundary-pushing projects include the Denver Union Station redevelopment, the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan, and Brightline – a new, high-speed railroad that will connect South and Central Florida. In 2020, construction was also completed on the National Museum of the United States Army – a new institution of national significance that tells the story of the individual soldier – for which Takacs served as project manager.