The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is honoring Robert D. Eisenstat, FAIA, the design leader for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Paul D. Mankins, FAIA, principal of Substance Architecture, with the 2022 AIA Award for Excellence in Public Architecture.
The award recognizes architects, public officials, or other individuals who design distinguished public facilities and advocate for design excellence.
Following 15 years in private practice in the United States and Brazil, in 1990 Eisenstat joined the Port Authority, a unique public agency that provides a public benefit to millions of residents and visitors in the greater New York City region on a daily basis. As the organization’s chief architect, a position he assumed in 2013, Eisenstat oversees a team of architects and specialty consultants, all focused on raising the profile of the authority’s projects. In championing public-private collaborations and partnerships, he has delivered extensive and complex projects that improve transit and radically transform neighborhoods.
Eisenstat has overseen major projects such as the $10 billion master plan to replace the outdated and undersized Port Authority Bus Terminal, the most heavily used facility of its type in the world. In addition, he served on the selection committee for the LaGuardia Airport Redevelopment Program, a $3.6 billion effort to modernize one of the country’s busiest airports. Following the catastrophic September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, Eisenstat led downtown Manhattan’s transportation planning and reintroduced PATH commuter rail service at the World Trade Center.
Since 2007, Eisenstat has served as a co-chair of AIA New York’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, promoting a deeper understanding and engagement in design quality and innovation for both the profession and the public. Through the alliances he forged with design professionals and technical experts from around the world, Eisenstat has nurtured a vast knowledge network through which invaluable experience and expertise are shared. Additionally, he envisions and leads a wide range of programs for architects, allied professionals, and the public that foreground an awareness of the role architects play in promoting the health of cities.
Following his graduate studies at Yale University, Mankins returned to his native Iowa in 1991 and immediately began working with the University of Iowa as an architect in the offices of Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture. Today, Mankins is a principal at Des Moines’ Substance Architecture where he oversees important projects, such as the city’s Principal Riverwalk Pavilion and Pump Station. The pair of small utilitarian buildings along the Des Moines River marks the eastern edge of the city’s historic Court Avenue District and hosts a farmers’ market that draws more than 20,000 people weekly. The project has been a critical element in spurring citizens of Des Moines to reconnect with the river.
Substance has been heavily engaged with the Des Moines Public Library System, delivering a stunning 150,000-square-foot central library that has served as a lynchpin in a re-envisioning of the entire library system. For the remarkably democratic project, a collaboration with David Chipperfield Associates, Mankins conducted public sessions with library patrons from across the city. During the schematic design phase, four alternatives were developed, and patrons were invited to vote for their favorite at their local branch.
Early in his career, Mankins began collaborating with artists to produce integrated site-specific works. In 2004, he was invited to join the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation’s board of trustees. Later, he served as its president. Through the organization, Mankins has collaborated with renowned artists such as Siah Armajani, Alice Aycock, Jun Kaneko, and Kerry James Marshall. His efforts have made public art a central component in Des Moines and have positioned the city as a national destination for public art.
Learn more about the AIA Award for Excellence in Public Architecture on AIA’s website.