Forty years in the past, Robert Gaskin thought he could be flying planes. These days, on the Queens-based architectural agency that he based, the one-time pilot, now full-time architect, helps design the terminals and services for JFK Worldwide and LaGuardia airports in Queens and Newark. Presently, Gaskin’s RCGA+DM Architects is without doubt one of the main contract recipients at New Terminal One at JFK (NTO). Gaskin and his colleagues are serving to to advance the design of the brand new terminal—a key ingredient of the $9.5 billion, 2.4 million sq. foot undertaking, which simply broke floor in September.
Whereas the Jamaica, NY-based agency at present has 20 staff, it started in 1997 with simply three. Now, a overwhelming majority of their work revolves round airports––“90% of our work is across the area of aviation,” Gaskin says. Over time, the agency has accomplished over 300 aviation tasks, together with main designs, such because the exterior cover at Concourse C on the American Airways terminal at JFK Worldwide Airport (for which the agency was nominated for design awards), in addition to the grasp plan for St. Vincent’s airport.
Presently, the agency is engaged on designing the demolition of JFK Airport’s Inexperienced Storage to make method for the brand new terminal, together with collaborating on the complete design of New Terminal One at JFK with the Port Authority in addition to with main building companies AECOM Tishman, Gensler, and McKissack & McKissack.
We sat down with Robert Gaskin and his colleague Martine Duphrezin, principal design architect at RCGA+DM Architects, to debate their current success and the affect of their work to advance the design of a world-class terminal in the midst of southeast Queens, New York.
From Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, Queens
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Gaskin spent his childhood in his father’s native Trinidad, the place his father was a doctor, after which lived his teen years in Scotland. He first labored for years as a pilot earlier than shifting to structure. “To start with of my profession, I truly wished to change into a pilot,” says Gaskin. “I graduated from flight faculty, however I additionally wished to pursue my love of structure, so I utilized and received into Pratt Institute.”
Duphrezin claims that her love of structure was first piqued as a five-year-old strolling round New York Metropolis, trying round on the enormous buildings and questioning how they had been made. From even an early age, she determined to orient her schooling round structure, ensuring to attend a highschool that included drafting as a part of the curriculum.
After a brief stint in Manhattan firstly of the agency’s inception, RCGA+DM Architects now works out of their workplace in Jamaica, Queens. “Once we moved to our first workplace on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, years in the past, you possibly can see pigeons flying by means of the roof as a result of it was an deserted constructing,” mentioned Gaskin. “We had an association with the proprietor to make use of the constructing as an workplace, serving to to repair it up in change for hire.”
Right now, of their workplace near JFK Airport, the 2 have labored intently collectively for over 30 years. “We’ve identified one another since 1986,” says Gaskin. “Not solely do we’ve got a powerful camaraderie with each other, but in addition a fantastic friendship.”
Getting Forward as an MWBE Agency
Gaskin and Duphrezin additionally shared experiences and recommendation on the significance of together with MWBE (Minority and Girls-Owned Enterprise Enterprise) companies throughout the world of structure and aviation. As a part of the New Terminal One at JFK Mission, the undertaking has dedicated a aim of 30% participation from MWBE companies, which is an unusually excessive aim for an infrastructure undertaking of its dimension. Gaskin and Duphrezin expressed a substantial amount of admiration and gratitude for each New Terminal One’s dedication to inclusion and for what tasks like this imply for his or her agency’s progress.
“Very not often do you get to take a seat down on the desk from day one,” says Duphrezin. “We don’t at all times have these alternatives. It’s fairly often solely throughout building that many tasks consider us–––New Terminal One offering and mandating that inclusivity from the get-go is really outstanding. On this undertaking, we all know that we’re an asset from the start and never simply an afterthought.”
“This not often occurs––to have the ability to come to the desk earlier than pencil hits the paper,” provides Gaskin. “That is possibly solely the second or third time that this has ever occurred in our over 30-year careers.”
A part of a Bigger Plan of Inclusion
The hiring of companies like RCGA+DM Architects isn’t any shock, contemplating that they labored with the planners of the undertaking within the first place and the crew behind it. As a part of the group for the undertaking, native elected leaders, together with NTO management, labored to make sure that inclusive hiring is a serious element––a rarity in an infrastructure undertaking of this dimension.
“I’m proud that in our advocacy, we’ve got helped to place variety, fairness, and inclusion on the coronary heart of the New Terminal One at JFK undertaking,” mentioned Congressman Gregory W. Meeks. “We’ve made sure that there’s fairness in these contracting alternatives for gifted individuals in Southeast Queens, which is essential for persevering with to construct generational wealth in our neighborhood.”
“Our borough’s airports are key drivers of the Queens economic system, and we wish to be certain that Queens-based M/WBE companies profit from the numerous alternatives the redevelopment of JFK and LaGuardia are making accessible,” mentioned Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “The development of the New Terminal One at JFK, one of many greatest infrastructure and financial improvement tasks in our borough’s historical past, will create a minimum of 10,000 jobs and is a shining instance of the sorts of tasks we would like Queens-based M/WBE companies to be concerned in. I’m so happy the 30% M/WBE involvement I fought for as Co-Chair of the JFK Redevelopment Group Advisory Council will likely be a part of the development of the New Terminal One, which will likely be crammed with fantastic facilities that may make it a really welcoming place for worldwide vacationers arriving at and departing from ‘The World’s Borough.’”
Presently, New Terminal One at JFK is working diligently to execute its objectives. Earlier than starting building, the brand new terminal has already contracted with over 100 MWBE companies and paid greater than $64.7 million for delivering skilled companies by means of key engineering, planning, building, and design work.
“Proficient native companies like RCGA+DM Architects are 100% foundational to this undertaking,” shares Dr. Gerrard Bushell, President, and CEO of The New Terminal One at JFK. “Along with the Port Authority, we’re constructing a world-class terminal, and we’re doing it with intentionality. By ensuring that the 1000’s of jobs and small companies concerned replicate the historic variety of this space, New Terminal One is a key a part of the revitalization of Southeast Queens and New York at giant.”
Seeking to the Future
Nowadays, Gaskin has much less time for flying recreationally, however he’s nonetheless thrilled to be fulfilling his goals of designing the airports of the longer term. “With the ability to mess around airplanes and having the ability to nonetheless get shut on the tarmac,” mentioned Gaskin. “To get that chance is what excites me in my job.” A variety of work lies forward for the agency with their present work with New Terminal One, with Section A of the terminal set to be delivered in June 2026.
Earlier than we left off, Gaskin and Duphrezin gave some recommendation for budding architects and entrepreneurs. “One factor I’ll say is at school, we had been taught about structure, however we weren’t taught the enterprise facet of issues,” mentioned Gaskin. “If you wish to begin a enterprise, not simply structure, it’s a must to have good enterprise recommendation—whether or not from mentor or from accountant.”
“However greater than something,” added Duphrezin,” you need to pursue what you need. By no means quit.”
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