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I was recently confronted with an ethical dilemma that I did not know how to address.  Yes, it was one of those small, somewhat privileged dilemmas, but nevertheless, I would really like to hear your thoughts on this question (join the conversation on Facebook). Last week, a friend who is a real estate broker called me. She had a potential client who was considering buying an apartment in need of renovation.  She asked if I would be willing to meet this buyer to discuss the renovation design process and costs. Coincidentally, we are doing a large renovation in this exact […] Read More

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Rabbi Mishael Zion and Esther Sperber spoke about homes, the pandemic and the Jewish holiday of Sukkot as part of a four-part podcast series for Beit Avi Chai Also available to stream on Beit Avi Chai and Apple Podcasts Read More

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"While the school managed a swift response to the sudden and unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus that spring, administrators recognized it was necessary to plan for the fall of 2020. Accordingly, the school convened a collaborative team of administrators, facility managers, architects, mechanical engineers, graphic designers and medical experts in preparation for the eventual reopening of the school buildings. " Read More

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"For this reason, I am making a pledge, and I hope others will join. If I receive funding from the CARES Act PPP that allows me to keep my staff on payroll for the next two months, my firm will dedicate a significant portion of the additional work time toward architectural work that does good for the world.” Read More

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Originally published on Archinect “At the end of February, a surprising decision by a state judge revoked the approval for the top 20 floors of 200 Amsterdam Avenue, a market-rate, luxury, residential building on the Upper West Side in New York.  “The developers amassed air rights, using a zoning loophole to create a 39-sided lot. While the city clarified that these zoning lots will no longer be allowed, it nevertheless sided with the developer to challenge this ruling. Despite the zoning gerrymandering that went into the design and approval of the 52-story building, few would have imagined that after receiving the required […] Read More

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"Here is my provocative proposal. Instead of removing the upper floors of 200 Amsterdam, we should convert part of the building into affordable housing. Let the developer keep the top floors, which include two large duplex penthouses priced at over $40 million dollars apiece. In return, let the city or a nonprofit reclaim the bottom 20 floors for low- and middle-income families." Read More

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Published: Yale Paprika In this interview, Miriam Dreiblatt speaks with founder of Studio ST Architects Esther Sperber on the challenges of designing religious spaces that promote serenity and connection while maintaining a high level of security. Sperber aims to design sacred spaces that foster a sense of community and belonging while being mindful of prayers and their individual spiritual needs. Sperber further discusses the impact of the concern and need for increased safety measures in synagogue architecture. These measures culturally informed and therefore take different forms, ranging from gates and police cars surrounding the site to hidden cameras and security […] Read More

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Esther Sperber was a guest speaker on Archinect’s podcast, Archinect Sessions, where she spoke about mental health in architecture. This discussion looks at the prevalence of mental health issues in creative industries and provides advice on learning how to empathize, managing stress, and seeking professional treatment. The full episode is also on other streaming platforms through Archinect. Read More

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Published: Lilith Magazine Esther Sperber reviews Daphne Merkin’s memoir, This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression. “The Melancholic displays something else besides which is lacking in mourning—an extraordinary diminution in his self-regard, and impoverishment of his ego on a grand scale. … a delusion of (mainly moral) inferiority is completed by sleeplessness and a refusal to take nourishment, and – what is psychologically very remarkable – by an overcoming of the instinct which compels every living thing to cling to life … the self reproaches are reproaches against a loved object which have been shifted away from it on […] Read More

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Originally published in Ms. Magazine “I am sitting on the carpeted floor in our local Barnes & Noble and looking through Ivanka Trump’s new book, Women Who Work. (I can’t bring myself to buy it.) Trump tells us that her book is a “manual for architecting the life you want to live,” and she uses architectural metaphors throughout the book—urging women to “plot a plan for success” so that “your life’s blueprint reflects your foundational values.” “As an architect, I love the way architectural terms quietly sneak into everyday language. Perhaps because dwelling and shelter are among the most primal of human […] Read More

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Originally published on Huffington Post “I alone can fix this” Trump promised during the 2016 Republican convention, but his first 100 days may have taught him that governing is a collaborative project and even a president cannot fix things alone. “Trump joins a long western tradition that idealizes the genius who works alone in business, science and art. Architects have embraced this Romantic archetype of the lone, most likely male, creator. But on May 20th the Pritzker Prize, which is considered the highest award in architecture, will be given for the first time to a team of three architects, Rafael […] Read More

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What is a home? Is it a place or an idea? Is our home the destination we yearn for on a long journey, or the childhood origin from which we travel? The home structures the way that we live and is structured by the cultural norms around us. And yet as these homes we inhabit create the necessary environment for dwelling and for Bachelard’s “daydreaming,” they also inhibit other forms of domesticity. It is only in the estrangement that is created by art, the shock of the uncanny, and the awareness of our embodied reaction to our dwellings, that we […] Read More

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Psychoanalysis has long been interested in the creative process, and yet architecture has rarely been studied from a psychoanalytic perspective. This paper examines the creative process of architecture in which the space between an existing problem and a physical, occupiable building is bridged. I follow the story of Daedalus, the mythic first architect, and suggest that the architect's creativity depends on the ability to utilize multiple modalities of the human mind and body and to allow them to converse with one another in what Philip Bromberg called a moment of “standing in the spaces.” Read More

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Published: The Huffington Post In this animated video Op-Ed, Esther Sperber shares her thoughts on how architecture can solve problems, namely the transgender bathroom wars. The idea came about as a response to the passing of House Bill 2 in North Carolina, which effectively banned those who identify as transgender from using public restrooms that were labeled for use by a specific gender. Her proposal is to change the way bathrooms are labeled. Instead of being distinguished by gender, bathrooms should be labeled by size. Not only would this be more appropriate for those who don’t identify as either male […] Read More

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Foreword: Esther SperberPublisher: Karnac Books A foreword is a collection of words that comes before; the text one encounters when opening the cover of a new book. A foreword is an invitation to follow the author on a journey of insights and ideas. Like a journey, a book also begins with hope of seeing new places, experiencing strange cultures, and discovering hidden aspects of ourselves. The foreword anticipates this voyage, sets expectations, and maps the road that will soon unfold. Books, like journeys, have many different styles. Some books take us on a business-like trip – efficient, productive, and quick. […] Read More

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Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space explores the effect of attention on our sense of space and of place’s qualities on our attention. Bachelard writes that the house shelters daydreaming and protects dreamers, therefore contemplating home should help us understand an important intersection between our patients’ embodied psyches and their cultural experience. This presentation will reflect on the meaning of home as habitat, person, place, memory, play, projection, and sometimes prison. Read More

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Esther Sperber’s piece “Kissing disciplines, relational architecture” is included in The Ethical Turn: Otherness and subjectivity in contemporary psychoanalysis. “… I am excited to envision a place in which the field of psychoanalysis, and its acceptance of the disorganized human mind, can kiss the thoughtful reasoning of philosophy, the wonderment of religion and perhaps even the concrete usefulness of architecture. Kissing, as Lavin writes, is “a union of bedazzling convergence and identification during which separation is inconceivable yet inevitable” This book is available on Amazon Read More

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Originally published in Lilith Magazine “I was sitting at my office desk, Thursday morning, March 31, multitasking as usual; checking my email, drafting plans for my sister’s apartment renovation in Tel Aviv, logging data into my bookkeeping software, and (I confess) checking Facebook once in a while. I scrolled through the feed of vacation photos, op eds and political comedy when I suddenly caught my breath – Zaha Hadid had died of a heart attack, age 65. “I’ve been thinking about Hadid’s death since its startling appearance in my Facebook feed. Had you asked me on Wednesday who my architectural […] Read More

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Published: Hillel Office of Innovation In this article, Esther Sperber explores the definition and meaning of a Jewish home. The home plays a dual role; it is both an expression of culture as well as a place of personal escape from societal demands. Thinking about the connection between Jewish homes, community and history, Sperber questions how to protect the Jewish home as a space where individuals are free to challenge societal norms and create new meanings. Perhaps the home can play an instrumental role in challenging and reshaping existing conventions, including gender roles, consumerism and environmental awareness while also being […] Read More