LETTER OF APPLICATION
6 APRIL 2012
It is my distinct pleasure to submit the following materials for your consideration. I have been involved with a number of projects and activities that may allow me contribute to an organization in a unique manner. I would like to briefly call attention to a few-
o Fall 2011- Assoc. Professor of Architecture, New York Institute of Technology. Graduate Studio in Urban Design and Regional Planning.
o Under the auspices of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, I was instrumental in the founding of the College of Architecture in Bangkok. My responsibilities included setting of the curriculum, hiring of an English-speaking international faculty, as well as teaching of the first incoming class of forty-some students. Part of the task was the design and construction of a new campus for the Institute located in an area located to the West of Bangkok. This area had once been vibrant shrimp farms, but the method of agriculture was self-polluting and it reverted to a moonscape wasteland. The thinking was that the new campus would generate support businesses- restaurants, shops etc and revitalize the area. This in fact, has come to pass and the area continues to grow.
o While teaching at the University of Virginia I served on the Graduate admissions committee for 6 years. UVa was a very competitive school so we considered many applications for few positions. I also directed their study abroad program in Venice for a year. Further, I was awarded a major grant to design a 20 year plan for the expansion and renovation of the campus in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson’s ideals, values and sensibilities. Many of the areas of the campus were inextricably linked to the surrounding neighborhoods. I would say that the edges of the campus ranged from very porous to clearly defined gateways.
o In the mid ‘80’s I (along with Schwartz-Kinnard, a Charlottesville VA based firm) won an international competition to design a new home for the Little Theatre of Chattanooga. The history of the Theatre was of small community based performing groups located in black box that they had long since overgrown. Benefiting from mostly private funding, this project would play a pivotal role in the remarkable transformation of Chattanooga from being one of the most challenged small cities in the country to what is now a jewel and phenomenal success story. The riverfront project was an urban design mixed use piece that included outdoor amphitheatre, marina, apartments and offices, retail etc. The ancillary uses provided income for the operation of the Little Theatre. Much of the land was donated by now Sen. Bob Corker.
o While Director of Design at Hartz Mountain (the nation’s largest private commercial developer) I completed 65 +/- projects that varied from lobby renovations to vast undertakings, including high rise office buildings and large hotels. I supervised a staff of 18 or so architects. The volume of work would range in any given year from the hundreds of millions to billions. Two projects are noteworthy as they were complex and had strong urban design issues and regional traffic impacts in the NYC metro area. One was a very large convention center/office building/hotel and regional train hub project located a Newark Airport. This may one day be realized after legions of regulatory attorneys find the same page. The other is what is now the stalled Xanadu project located at the Giants stadium Meadowlands property. This project called for new stadiums, housing, entertainment centers, and rail links- basically a new, unique small city.
o With Daroff Design in Philadelphia I was PM for the interior architecture of the new US Air International Arrivals building. KPF was the architect of record. The programming, traffic flow and coordination were challenging in the extreme.
o I have been a resident of Orange County New York, off and on, since 1972 and for the last few years it has been the fastest growing county not only in the state, but in the region as well. This has brought with it some special challenges- especially with New York State practicing; ‘home rule’. There are some County wide groups that I actively participate in and which have made beneficial changes-
- The Orange County Planning Board. Members are appointed by the Executive and approved by the Legislature. We work closely with the Planning Department and have established a master plan that is updated every 5 years. We recognized that growth will occur but that we want to focus that growth to areas where it would make sense by means of establishing ‘priority growth corridors’ and these would be developed through incentives and penalties. We also have a water and watershed master plan that outlines supportive linkages between have and have not municipalities. There is an open space initiative where the Legislature has provided $28M for the purchase of development rights to protect view sheds, watersheds and municipal well head protection. To date we have awarded between $7-8M to these ends. I have also served on the Planning Board of my home city- Port Jervis. The Planning Department has also produced (with our input and review) an extraordinary document giving guidance to developers and municipal officials on Smart Growth concepts and practices.
- The Orange County Partnership and the Alliance for Balanced Growth. The Partnership is our business attraction and retention group. It is funded by the County and mostly by hundreds of business members. This organization is one of our important voices in Albany and they are lobbying against the proposed wetlands regulations. A goal is to attract quality employers who pay living wages so people don’t have to travel out of the county to live. The County now has 60 or so business parks and when the Partnership was founded there were none. The Alliance works to educate municipalities that if there is to be balanced growth, that means businesses that create rateables to offset school tax burdens. This has been mostly successful. We also advocate streamlining the SEQR process and overlapping approval agencies.
- In 2004 I founded Sabaii Development. I provide consulting services for mostly residential developer/builders who recognize that quality design and a sense of place are low cost aspects of an overall project that bring strong benefits. We always place at least 50% of the land in a conservation easement and focus on affordable, workforce housing. We have in place a team of consultants who are pioneers in sustainability and being good neighbors. Our time for approvals is generally much shorter than similar sized projects.
Given the opportunity, I would be eager to present additional material and would welcome the honor of visiting with you. I look forward to hearing from you in due time.
John Meder, RA
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US, MArch, architecture
special commendation for excellence, 1st Place