in the Public Realm
Cocktails & Conversations

April 8, 2016 Center for Architecture, New York City

The Pairing:
Bing Thom, Bing Thom Architects
Michael Heeney, Bing Thom Architects
Gina Pollara, Municipal Art Society

Cocktail designed by:
Toby Cecchini, Bartender + Author

Bing Thom, AIA, CM, AIBC Architect, FRAICPrincipal and Creative Director, Bing Thom Architects

Bing Thom is one of Canada's most admired and accomplished architects. Born in Hong Kong and immigrating to Canada as a child, Thom received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of British Columbia and his Master of Architecture degree from the University of California at Berkeley. A student of the 60's, Thom travelled Asia and helped pioneer one of the first academic programs in Ethnic Studies in North America during his time in Berkeley. He worked in the offices of Fumihiko Maki and Arthur Erickson before starting his own firm, Bing Thom Architects (BTA), in 1982.

With close personal and professional ties to Asia and North America, BTA’s 40+ person office is shaped by the wide-range of experience brought by professionals from 15 different countries who collectively speak 14 languages. Among BTA’s successes are Surrey Central City, an internationally award winning mixed-use project combining a university campus, shopping centre and office tower; the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia; Pacific Canada Pavilion at the Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Centre; Trinity River East, Tarrant County College’s new downtown campus in Fort Worth, Texas; the City Centre Library in Surrey, Canada; and Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington DC. BTA’s newest projects include the design of Woodridge Public Library in Washington DC; MacEwan University’s Centre for Arts and Communication in Edmonton, Canada; the Xiqu Centre in Hong Kong, which will be a new home for Chinese Opera and the inaugural project in the multi-venue West Kowloon Cultural District; and University of Chicago’s new Hong Kong campus for the Booth School of Business.

Thom’s commitment to using great architecture to improve the urban context and social condition has been recognized by a range of honours including the Order of Canada, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding contributions to architecture and community, and the RAIC Gold Medal. Dedicated to helping the next generation of architects, Bing is a popular lecturer in Canada and abroad and is the privileged recipient of Honorary Degree of Laws from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, as well as an honorary professorship from Tongji University in Shanghai.

Michael Heeney, AIBC, FRAIC, RI(BC)Principal and Creative Director, Bing Thom Architects

Michael Heeney Michael Heeney has worked with Bing Thom Architects for over 20 years. Bringing a commitment to high-quality design as well as business acumen, Michael helps BTA's clients make informed decisions about how to build responsibly in their cities and on their sites. One of Michael’s earliest passions was the theatre and he draws a connection between producing great theatre and creating great architecture. The need to understand human nature and the energy and intensity required to see a project through are similar in both disciplines. “Architecture is a sort of stage set for life.” Michael is a passionate believer in the importance of creativity and culture in contributing to the health and vitality of urban centers. He has a solid background in sustainable design and is LEED-accredited. Active in the local community, Michael has served on the boards of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Downtown Vancouver Association, and the Vancouver Chapter of Lambda Alpha International. He is currently a member of the Vancouver Economic Development Commission and a member of the PuSH Festival board. Michael has degrees from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, as well as a diploma in Urban Land Economics.

Gina Pollara President, CEO Municipal Art Society

Gina Pollara became the president and CEO of The Municipal Art Society (MAS) in February 2016. For more than 120 years, MAS has advocated for excellence in urban planning and design, demonstrated its commitment to historic preservation and the arts, and educated and empowered local communities to affect change in their neighborhoods.

Prior to her job at MAS, Pollara provided strategic urban and design planning as well as fundraising and organizational development to a number of public and private organizations including: Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, Bing Thom Architects, The River Project and the Hudson River Foundation, and Arts Letters and Numbers.

From August 2006 to December 2013, Pollara served as Executive Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC, the organization established to raise the funds and construct the memorial designed by the architect Louis I. Kahn for the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York City. Construction on the $45.5 million project began March 29, 2010; the Park was dedicated on October 17, 2012.

As Associate Director of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archives of The Cooper Union from 2001 to 2006, she co-curated a number of exhibitions including the seminal one on the FDR Memorial in January/February 2005. From 1993 to 2001, Pollara designed and managed construction of a number of New York City apartments and residential additions for various firms.

Pollara is an advocate for the preservation, promotion and use of historic records. She was instrumental in establishing the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archive, and she has been an archival consultant to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The General Society Library for Mechanics and Tradesmen, and the Mayor’s Office of the City of New York for the Bloomberg Administration as well as many private collectors.

She is a board member of The Four Freedoms Park Conservancy and the New York Preservation Archive Project, and is on the Advisory Board of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Memorial. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art as well as a Bachelor of Art Degree from Bennington College.

Toby Cecchini, Bartender & Author
Toby Cecchini is a writer and bartender based in New York City. He has written on food, wine and spirits for GQ, Food and Wine, and The New York Times. His first book, Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life, was published in 2003. He is currently at work on his second book, a travelogue of spirits based on his travels for The New York Times' Living and travel magazines. He began bartending at the Odeon in 1987, where he is credited with creating the internationally recognized version of the Cosmopolitan cocktail in New York. He followed that with stints in several bars including Passersby, which he owned until 2008. In 2013 he reopened the shuttered Long Island Bar in Cobble Hill Brooklyn.

The Classic Recipe from New Orleans:
  • 2 ounces Gin
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 3 drops orange flower water
  • soda water
Shake long and hard, at least one minute.

Prepare a cold highball glass.
NO ice, splash of soda, then strain drink into it. No garnish.