Erika Benson, LEED AP

Erika Benson, LEED AP

New York, NY, US



  • 5+ years of experience in the Architecture and Engineering sector
  • 3+ years of project management experience with responsibilities including scheduling, budgeting, project tracking and coordination between client, sub-consultants and project partners
  • LEED AP BD&C certified
  • Strong knowledge of Design Build project delivery methodology
  • Expertise in residential, transportation, resiliency/disaster mitigation and public sector projects
  • Experience in overseeing projects through every phase of the architect’s five basic services, from schematics through construction administration
  • Proficiency in cost estimating with Xactimate software
  • Working knowledge of building codes, including the New York City 2014, New York State and International Building Codes; ADAAG and New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code
  • Thorough understanding of HUD requirements for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)-funded projects as well as FEMA funding requirements
  • Field experience in home damage assessments and construction observation
  • Adept in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, including statistical analysis, survey development and interview methodologies for developing sustainable and resilient materials and systems
  • Proficient in business and project development including project proposal writing, RFP development, coordination with consultants and proposal interview preparation


  • Computer Drafting/BIM Programs: AutoCAD, Revit
  • 3-D Modeling Programs: Rhino, Sketch-Up Pro, VRay for Rhino and Sketch-Up, Grasshopper for Rhino
  • Cost Estimating: Xactimate
  • Graphics Programs: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
  • Statistical Analysis: STATA
  • Project Management: Basecamp, Microsoft Access, PeopleSoft


MTA Bridges and Tunnels, New York, NY, US, Assistant Project Engineer

--Tunnel Flood Protection Design Build Contract – Assistant Project Engineer
Serve as Assistant Project Manager for a Design Build contract to deliver long-term mitigation measures at the Hugh L Carey (HLCT) and Queens Midtown Tunnels (QMT) designed to protect to the FEMA 500-Year Flood Elevation. Assist in project planning and development, including developing initial budgets, managing the design consultants, writing performance specifications, reviewing 10% and 40% design submissions and developing new RFP templates for Design Build Contracts.
• Write a scope of work for mitigation measures, including a raised seawall at the HLCT Governors Island Ventilation Building, tunnel portal protection and plaza perimeter protection strategy at the HLCT and QMT
• Review contractor submissions of 10% drawings, calculations and geotechnical reports for inclusion as indicative plans and reference in the Design Build request for proposals
• Participate in strategy sessions with the Principle Engineer to determine design approaches to seepage reduction at the HLCT Governors Island Ventilation Building, drainage of the HLCT Manhattan Plaza Cellular Structure and plaza utility protection
• Draft overall design criteria, including debris impact loads, flood loads and leakage rates
• Manage consultant input and recommendations on performance and product specifications
• Develop directive performance specifications for structural, architectural, mechanical and electrical work
• Create a RFP structure for Design Build projects by coordinating with the Legal and Procurement Departments
• Prepare an Investment Justification to deliver to MTA Headquarters to solicit matching funding for the project
• Comply with FEMA requirements for 406 recovery and mitigation funding
• Assist in project scheduling for the RFP development and procurement timeline
• Draft and update the project budget by coordinating with five different consultants and departments as well as ConEdison
• Produce SEQR documentation and submittals to NYSDEC, including the Environmental Impact Assessment and Coastal Assessment Form
• Prepare historic preservation documentation for SHPO and ensure that performance specifications clearly state all requirements relating to maintaining the historic character of the tunnels

--Resiliency Program – Assistant Project Engineer
Serve as Assistant Project Manager for the Resiliency Mitigation Program designed to protect TBTA assets to the FEMA 500-Year Flood Elevation. Manage all aspects of the program, including developing policies and procedures, coordinating deployment prior to a storm and determining additional infrastructure needs.
• Work with Operations and Maintenance to ensure proper storm response procedures are in place in the event of a major storm
• Coordinate with facility-level operations and maintenance personnel during a major storm to ensure that all deployable protection measures are deployed securely
• Serve as the Resiliency Program representative in the MTA Sustainability Task Force
• Assess the inventory of deployable protection measures at each vulnerable facility and determine future inventory needs
• Member of the BIM task force overseeing a BIM gap assessment, cost/benefit analysis and the development of BIM standards
• Develop project budgets for future mitigation projects at all MTA Bridge and Tunnel facilities
• Work with the Department of Planning and Budget to develop business cases for new projects to submit to MTA Headquarters for funding
• Work with Facility Engineers to determine facility vulnerabilities to flooding and other hazards at the eight bridges
• Strategize new ways of protecting against risk, including war gaming procedures to uncover hidden organizational weaknesses
• Assist in the development of annual project financial reporting to MTA databases for all program projects
• Evaluate current levels of protection at MTA facilities and compare with current FEMA flood maps
• Research flood resistant design codes, such as ASCE 24

Sep 2015 - current

Perez, APC, New York, NY, US, Senior Designer

--Master Planning Study for a Major US Airport – Project Designer
Served as Project Designer for the planning study of the North Concourse terminal expansion at a major western airport. Assisted in the programming of the terminals, the planning and placement of B757 parking zones and the development of several options for construction phasing.
• Programmed terminals, taxi lanes and service roads
• Provided flexible parking options for various plane types, including Boeing 757s, Boeing B737s and regional jets
• Planned the placement of forty seven (47) B757 parking zones, jet bridges and gates
• Phased the construction of the North Concourse to align with the demolition of the existing structure and the construction of the new South Concourse
• Provided two conceptual phasing options, each with twenty eight gates in the first phase and forty seven in the second
• Schematic drawings in AutoCAD of terminal and airline operation levels
• Prepared presentation documents for the client, including phasing and schematic floor plans
• Massing design of the North Concourse to match the patterns developed to a Design Development level of detail for the South Concourse
• Ensured that jet bridges met ADA standards
• Repurposed an existing service tunnel to serve as the connection between the new North and South Concourses

--New York Rising – Project Designer
Served as Project Designer for the repair and reconstruction of single family homes though the New York Rising Program, New York State’s post-Superstorm Sandy residential reconstruction program funded using CDBG grant monies. Elevated homes above the 100-year Flood Plain, as dictated by FEMA; reconstructed heavily-damaged homes; led preliminary home site visits; prepared as-built drawings; advised on resilient design; worked with homeowners to create home elevation concepts focused on accessibility; and developed schematic through construction documents.
• Review of program documents, including previous assessments outlining the estimated cost of repairs
• Amend errors and omissions in the initial estimated cost of repair through the submittal of a scope change packet
• Check building information in the local Department of Buildings or Real Estate for open permits or violations
• Investigate the home’s taxable square footage through the Nassau County Department of Assessment
• Complied with HUD and CDBG requirements for disaster reconstruction
• Coordinated with the local Department of Planning to deal with nonconforming conditions and home elevations
• Produced cost estimates for elements not funded by NY Rising
• Aided homeowners in contractor selection during the design phase of the project
• Led, planned and implemented community design charrettes to provide neighborhood information sessions regarding resilient design
• Generated material and design selection booklets to help low-income homeowners select materials within their allocated grant amount
• Assisted in proposal writing for an SSBG-funded sub-program of New York Rising designed to aid very low-income homeowners
• Created Architectural Process and Design Standard Operating Procedures for home elevations and reconstruction

--NYC Build It Back – Lead Design Specialist
Served as Lead Design Specialist for the repair of over 100 single family homes through the New York City Build it Back Program, New York City’s post-Super storm Sandy residential reconstruction program funded using CDBG grant monies. Led Design Consultation site visits with the contractor and home owner, prepared as-built drawings, photographed damages, prepared lists of replacement materials, advised on resilient design & created 3D views of new kitchens and baths, collaborated with contractors on the scope of repairs and submitted documents into a comprehensive project management system.
• Determined Base Flood Elevation and Design Flood Elevation
• Reviewed Build It Back documents to check initial damage assessment results, Tier II documents and feasibility reports
• Checked New York City Department of Building Information for open permits and violations, basement/cellar classification, number of units, wetland designation and landmark status
• Led the Design Consultation field team, including additional Perez staff, the contractor and environmental assessors to determine program eligible repair work
• Prepared project scopes, drawings and cost estimates for submittal to the Build It Back program
• Presented draft scopes to homeowners on site and explain program-eligible and ineligible work
• Advised homeowners on optional resiliency measures available through the Build It Back program
• Updated the cost and project milestone tracking system to ensure cost efficiency and record project hold-ups
• Incorporated environmental remediation into draft scopes based on HUD requirements for CDBG funding
• Evaluated contractor bids for items not included in the program approved price list
• Coordinated with project personnel, including owners, construction management staff, managers and support personnel
• Collaborated with engineering consultants to schedule structural assessments and incorporated results into draft scopes
• Interpreted code requirements for program eligible work
• Responded to contractor RFIs
• Assisted in proposal writing for the New York City Department of Design and Construction Build It Back Request for Proposals
• Served as Perez’s representative during the Build It Back proposal pre-interview meetings with the prime and additional sub-consultants

May 2014 - Aug 2015

AfHny, New York, NY, US, Director of Development

Served on the Board of Directors for a volunteer-run organization with a membership base of 1500+, which provides pro-bono design services to non-profits and communities in the five boroughs of New York City. Lead the financial planning of the organization and oversaw the strategic direction of the organization by participating in monthly steering meetings.
*Lead the financial planning of the organization
*Financial analysis, such as balance sheet creation, cash flow analyses, and financial health ratios used to understand the organization’s annual performance
*Participate in monthly steering meetings with the Board of Directors to plan and govern the organization
*Create the budget for each fiscal year
*Assist in drafting the organization’s five year strategic plan
*Implement a design competition for the New York City social sector to
*Develop social impact reporting metrics and toolkits to track quantifiable impacts of completed projects
*Oversee the transition to independence after the bankruptcy of the organization’s fiscal sponsor, Architecture for Humanity
*Rebrand of the organization from Architecture for Humanity New York to AFHNY after separating from the parent organization, Architecture for Humanity
*Organize annual fundraisers
*Incorporate new initiatives into annual fundraisers, including a gingerbread house competition between several of New York City’s top architecture firms
*Foster new corporate sponsors and grow existing ones
*Manage volunteers on the development and event planning teams
*Create new partnerships with other nonprofits to initiate new projects
*Work with a volunteer team from Net Impact New York to brainstorm new approaches to corporate sponsorship drives and social impact measuring
*Design a tiered corporate sponsorship system listing benefits for bronze, silver and gold level donors

Sep 2013 - Jan 2015

ODESAR, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Project Designer

--City of Matagalpa Eco-tourism Infrastructure - Project Manager
Worked with the Secretary of Tourism for the City of Matagalpa to develop and construct eco-tourism infrastructure in the nature reserves around the city of Matagalpa as part of an initiative to create an alternative to work in the coffee fields for townships around the city. Projects included the El Arenal Nature Reserve Museum, the Matagalpa Artesian Market, and eco-tourism infrastructure in La Siare y La Granja.
*Completed schematics through construction documents using Revit
*Completed site surveys and analyses to determine ideal locations for eco-tourism infrastructure in four nature reserves
*Undertook programming analyses for each of the targeted sites to identify activities and building typologies that would be suitable for each setting
*Researched local construction means and methods
*Developed new construction techniques for building with bamboo and adobe pre-fabricated panels
*Incorporated passive ventilation and daylighting strategies into the design along with green walls and rainwater collection devices
*Produced cost and material lists in coordination with the project engineer
*Successfully won a grant for $300,000 from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the construction of El Arenal Nature Reserve Museum
*Led information sessions to explain the benefits of projects to local communities
*Explained design concepts and benefits to the Mayor of Matagalpa and representatives from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
*Spoke with skilled craftsman from surrounding communities to ensure local labor was utilized during project construction
*Completed two construction observation site visits
*Sequenced construction in two phases, one for renovations that would allow the building to open immediately and the other for a later addition.

--Nueva Vida School
Designed and constructed a daycare in coordination with community leaders and a partner non-profit, Neuva Vida Streetkids.
*Served as liaison between the donors in New York and partner organizations as well as negotiated conflicting interests between the donor and client
*Assisted in site selection and purchasing
*Undertook site and programming analyses to optimize the use of the site and building
*Advised on sustainable construction techniques and materials
*Produced schematics through construction documents in Autocad
*Generated cost and material lists
*Connected project partners to craftsmen specializing in sustainable construction techniques
*Coordinated with the partner organizations to arrange for local labor and students to participate in construction
*Phased construction to align with the arrival of donated materials from the US
*Produced 3D models in Rhino for finished projects
*Assisted in construction management and observation
*Advised the organization on new design and construction techniques, including daylighting and passive ventilation strategies

Sep 2010 - Aug 2012


Columbia University, New York, NY, US, Masters, School of International and Public Affairs

Master of International Affairs
Concentration in Urban Policy
Specialization in Management

Sep 2012 - May 2014

University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA, US, BArch, Architecture

Graduated Magna Cum Laude
Awards: Discovery Scholar (Award for Outstanding Research Project), Recipient of the Alpha Rho Chi Medal for Leadership (Department Award for Academics and Service), Recipient of The Order of the Laurel and Palm for Leadership and Academic Achievement (University Award for Academics and Service)

Sep 2005 - May 2010


Discovery Scholar, Award

Award for Outstanding Research Project, University of Southern California


Order of the Laurel and Palm, Award

University Award for Academics and Service, University of Southern California


Alpha Rho Chi Medal for Leadership, Award

Department of Architecture Award for Academics and Service, University of Southern California


Areas of Specialization