For a Better City, Spacesmith’s Marc Gordon Studies Hidden History

Why would anyone spend their weekends exploring historic graveyards or cataloguing lost commercial districts? For architect Marc Gordon, the answer is simple: Knowing the ins and outs of a city’s past makes today’s architecture better.

A partner at the acclaimed firm Spacesmith, Gordon is a lifelong student of New York history and an informed, engaging source on its architectural heritage. As a practitioner who’s spent over 20 years advising clients ranging from community non-profits and institutes of higher education to city agencies, Gordon says it’s crucial to recognize lessons learned over centuries of growth.

“The New York we know today is only the latest iteration of a dynamic metropolis that has taken hundreds of years to develop, but the clues to how it has evolved are hiding in plain sight,” says Gordon. “Studying what has endured, what has disappeared, and why — these are vitally important lessons, especially when working with non-profits and public agencies who need their buildings to last and remain relevant to city residents for decades to come.”

In an in-depth article, Gordon writes about how distinct commercial districts in Manhattan from Music Row to the Fulton Fish Market have disappeared over the decades, and what that foretells about today’s increasingly residential neighborhoods. (Read the article here.)

And those graveyards? Here’s one lesson: Consider that Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park, designed Trinity Church’s Washington Heights Cemetery on the former estate of famed naturalist and artist James Audubon, 10 miles north of Trinity Church on Wall Street at the opposite end of Manhattan. It’s a perfect example, Gordon says, of city’s hidden color and rich history. “As we go about our daily routines,” he suggests, “we should be aware of the stories that surround us. Cities like New York will continue to develop in ways we can only imagine, and these stories help us as architects to make the city a vital and better place to visit, live, work and play.”

Read more about the city’s history here.

About Marc Gordon, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C
Over the course of 25 years at Spacesmith, Marc Gordon has remained committed to the creation of enduring architecture. In his role as partner, he oversees the development of construction documentation and specifications, with a focus on integrating emerging technology with imaginative design for more efficient building processes and inspiring results. His recent work comprises a number of innovative public-sector projects, including the Staten Island Family Justice Center, operations buildings for the New York Police Department, and facilities for Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the non-profit community group Part Of The Solution.

About Spacesmith
Spacesmith is a full-service architecture, interior design and consulting firm specializing in renovations, adaptive reuse and new buildings for both private and public sector clients. Spacesmith is a team of highly skilled architects, designers, space planners and project managers. Our partnership with Davis Brody Bond provides us with additional resources to deliver architecture and design services at any scale and location to clients across a wide range of sectors. At Spacesmith we focus with meticulous attention to the concept and details of every project in order to arrive at a solution which is architecturally, socially and skillfully designed. More at