Dattner Architects’ Associate Principal Rachel Ehrlich AIA, LEED AP BD+C talks with Urban Omnibus (The Architectural League of New York) about designing projects that address the intersectional crises of affordable housing and climate change, the role of architects when creating housing within tight sites and underserved communities, and the value of collaboration.
In the interview with Mariana Mogilevich, editor-in-chief of Urban Omnibus, Rachel highlights design solutions and challenges faced during design and construction of the recently completed affordable housing project Santaella Gardens, and supporting housing project St. James Terrace.
The way that we create housing in New York City is its own ecosystem and industry. The architecture is a tiny piece of it. We think of the building as being the most important part, but the people that put together the financing think of money as the most important part. And then the people who are providing social services to the people in these homes are like: “Obviously, caring for these people is the most important part. If we don’t figure that out, what are we doing here?”
Rachel is a leader in the design of affordable housing, and she has a distinct focus on supportive and senior living spaces. A climate activist, her dedication centers around enriching communities, creating vibrant, livable neighborhoods that serve as the foundation for social equity. Through her expertise, she strives to provide well-designed, sustainable homes for individuals across all income levels.
For the last four years, Rachel has represented Madison, New Jersey as a council member where she supports the town’s concerns regarding infrastructure, capital projects, and climate action.
“We recently adopted climate goals in our town of 17,000 people and are working towards cutting carbon pollution and increasing resiliency to mitigate the effects of climate change that are already here.”