The 20 young A/E/C industry professionals honored in ENR New York's Top 20 Under 40 competition have gone beyond the norm of excellence in their careers, showing leadership skills in their profession as well as a commitment to give back to their communities. These winners range in age from 27 to 39, and while some have similar titles, their jobs are quite different.
Many have spent their entire careers at the same firm, and many have concentrated on bringing eco-friendly alternatives to their projects. Some of the winners have experience in more than one of the design, engineering or construction disciplines, with several earning academic degrees in several fields. All have community service experience, with many volunteering as mentors for children and young adults.
An independent panel of judges chose the 20 from a group of 39 this year who either nominated themselves or were nominated by colleagues.
The judges weighed details on how the nominees demonstrated excellence and leadership qualities, their involvement in the industry, their contributions to landmark or sustainable projects and factors such as industry certifications, professional licensures and/or accreditations currently held or in progress. Nominees had to be located in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut and had to be under the age of 40 at the time of this magazine's publication.
On the professional side, nominees were also asked to specify current job responsibilities, educational endeavors and to say why they should be considered a top young professional in their field. Regarding community service, they were asked to list the organizations they support and to explain their choices.
This competition, unlike ENR New York's other rankings of contractors, designers and projects, hones in on individuals and the current contributions they make to the industry.
In the following pages, meet these rising stars and the five judges who selected them as 2012's Top 20 Under 40.
Meet The Jury
- Babak Bryan, associate, TEK Architects, New York, is a 2011 Top 20 Under 40 winner. With more than 14 years of experience in architecture and engineering, he has served as project developer for several large-scale projects for not-for-profit organizations, universities and medical facilities, including a three-story renovation for an AIDS clinic in the West Village.
- Mike Elmendorf, president and CEO, Associated General Contractors of New York State, previously served as NYS director of the National Federation of Independent Business and as a senior staff member in former Gov. George Pataki's administration. He was also the state's lead negotiator on the historic Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.
- Nick Everett, senior vice president and director of business development, A.P. Construction Co., Stamford, Conn., is responsible for marketing, investigation and strategy, client development, maintenance and proposal formulation for the firm. He previously served as vice president and director of operations for the firm's Westchester office.
- Richard B. Garlock, senior associate, Leslie E. Robertson Associates, New York, has 18 years of experience "designing structural solutions to facilitate the architectural vision." His work as a project manager ranges from university lab buildings to towers, and he has been involved with high-profile projects including 4 World Trade Center, which is now under construction.
- Robert E. Reager, president, Joseph Jingoli & Son, Lawrenceville, N.J., has guided the firm for 20 years and served in senior management for 30 years, helping Jingoli & Son grow from a regional firm to a company with more than 500 employees. His professional affiliations include the Society of American Military Engineers and The Moles.
Striving to attain something apart from the pack
29, Chief Plumbing Designer
Mount Vernon, N.Y.
A third-generation plumber, Sal Alonge began his career as an apprentice in his father's business, one of the largest plumbing contractors in Westchester County, N.Y. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the New York Institute of Technology and became a New York City licensed master plumber, the highest level a plumber can reach. "I felt that plumbers weren't respected; I needed something to separate me from the pack," Alonge says. After joining WDF as a junior plumbing draftsman in 2004, Alonge was promoted to senior plumbing designer within a year. He is currently in charge of eight plumbing draftsmen and manages plumbing design and drafting for the firm's projects. He says he saw the potential for revolutionizing plumbing using 3D software and introduced prefabricated underground sanitary, vent and storm piping to WDF. "Prefabrication keeps us ahead of the curve," he says. At present, Alonge is in charge of drafting on 1 and 3 World Trade Center as well as the WTC transportation hub, where he is using his prefabrication methods.
Building on experience as a young entrepreneur
39, Principal and Director
At the age of 27, Shawn Basler co-founded Manhattan-based Basler Mosa Design Group (BMDG), an architectural, planning, urban design and interior design services firm that Perkins Eastman acquired in 2007, making Basler the youngest principal at the time in Perkins Eastman's 25-year history. Basler, whose work at BMDG included hospitality projects throughout the Mideast, brought client contacts and an extensive portfolio of domestic and international work to Perkins Eastman. Basler is currently principal-in-charge of the firm's global hospitality practice. He also leads the master planning of many integrated resort and community developments, including The Buckingham Hotel in New York. A graduate of Kansas State University, he currently serves as a member of the advisory board for the university's College of Architecture, Planning and Design. He says he continues to develop his expertise in design on an international level and is involved in many professional organizations, including the Dean's Advisory Council for the Kansas State College of Architecture, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the engineering board for the New York Athletic Club.
Keeping the beat in acoustical design
Alban Bassuet gets jazzed up about the sounds of buildings that have yet to be built as well as sounds of existing structures that need work. He says the elements of the enclosure, from the shape of the room to every object inside, have an impact on sound in that space. And sound is what this former researcher at the Parisian music research institute IRCAM has devoted his career to. "You can optimize design to work with sound," says Bassuet, a specialist in acoustics. He focuses on factors that influence how a particular enclosure reflects sound waves and how that can be manipulated. To that end, he developed the Arup SoundLab, a laboratory that can reproduce the sounds of a space and allow for a comparison of acoustic performance and the associated costs of various design options. Arup uses the lab in nine offices worldwide, and one of the structures set to benefit from the technology is New York City's Second Avenue Subway project now under construction. Working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Bassuet used the lab to conduct the auralization work of the subway system, incorporating elements that include the announcer's voice, the microphone used to make announcements and the cable used to carry that feed as well as the station's speaker system. "We were able to show what would happen if you improve the quality of the mic, the cable, and if the person that gives the announcement is in an isolated booth," he says. But performance spaces are the majority of his repertoire, with upcoming projects including the optimization of acoustic quality at the Renzo Piano-designed Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, which is set to begin construction this spring.
Christopher P. Cardany
Learning lessons on making the client's job easier
39, Senior Associate, Vice President
Langan Engineering and Environmental Services
New Haven, Conn.
During his 15 years as a civil and geotechnical engineer at Langan Engineering, Christopher Cardany has worked with some of the firm's biggest clients, including Stop & Shop and Lowe's, and has learned some lessons along the way. "If you can provide superior technical quality and responsiveness, clients are willing to pay for it because it makes their jobs easier," he says. With a master's degree in civil engineering from Columbia University, Cardany has moved up the ranks at his firm from staff engineer and project manager to member of the firm's senior leadership team. Three years after arriving at Langan Engineering, he helped start up its Connecticut office, which now has a staff of 25. Cardany is involved in the office's daily operations in areas such as business development and financial reporting. His responsibilities include serving as project manager for the New Haven, Conn., Boathouse at Canal Dock project, which includes construction of a facility on a 1.5-acre, pile-supported platform in the harbor. His other activities include chairing the steering committee of the Langan Center of Technical Excellence, which provides peer consulting and firm-wide evaluations of new technologies and products.
Bringing an architect's eye to structural engineering
39, Senior Associate
Chris Cerino credits his success as a structural engineer to his main studies in architectural engineering and a minor in architecture at Pennsylvania State University. "Understanding challenges from an architect's perspective has been invaluable to providing effective structural project solutions," Cerino says. His career has given him the opportunity to develop plans to accommodate particularly challenging design restrictions, including the New York City High Line 23, a 14-floor condominium tower that rises 14 stories from a 40-ft-wide footprint and increases in size as it rises. He has also worked as a structural engineer on three Frank Gehry-designed projects: the IAC headquarters in Manhattan; the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.; and the Lewis Library at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. His current responsibilities include serving as discipline leader in charge of STV's New York structural engineering group, managing all projects within the group from both a technical and business standpoint; he is the youngest engineering discipline leader in the company. His recent work includes directing structural design for a new state-of-the-art bus maintenance complex for New York City Transit.
Maintaining a deep focus on foundations
39, Vice President of Operations
John Cubala has done a bit of traveling in his 17-year career, moving around for projects that include the Secaucus Transfer Station in New Jersey and Interstate 15 for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Cubala joined Skanska in 1996 and currently serves as vice president of operations with responsibility for overseeing the No. 7 Subway Line expansion finishes and systems in New York City. With a degree in civil engineering from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., he worked at Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor, Inc., a consulting firm focused on foundational construction, prior to joining Skanska. He is a regular speaker at Lafayette College and an active member of the Deep Foundations Institute, which focuses on improving the planning, design and construction aspects of deep foundations and deep excavations. Cubala's résumé includes the John F. Kennedy Airport AirTrain Project in Queens, N.Y. Cubala, who is also a mentor through his membership with The Moles, says he hopes to help the newcomers to Skanska develop and succeed. "I enjoy watching the successes of the younger engineers, empowering them on a project and seeing the satisfaction they have when their hard work pays off," he says.
Robert F. DeWitt Jr.
Spearheading construction and mentoring along the way
38, Senior Vice President of Construction
SL Green Realty
Spearheading a 20-person construction department, Bob DeWitt has helped SL Green complete more than $1 billion in construction projects since he joined the firm in 2007. Among his initial tasks was the finalization of the $72-million redevelopment of 100 Park Avenue, a complex project that included the installation of a 36-story glass curtain wall, replacement of more than 2,000 windows and major infrastructure upgrades in a 90% occupied office building. Under his leadership in the past year, his department has completed more than $150 million in capital projects and tenant improvements, in addition to breaking ground on Pace University's $90-million development in Manhattan, the largest ground-up project undertaken by the company to date. DeWitt has a master's degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University in Virginia and is heavily involved with his company's mentoring program, working with a student intern every summer. He also serves as a member of the Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater New York and The Real Estate Board of New York.
Increasing awareness of eco-friendly options
34, Manager of Preconstruction and Sustainability
Through most of her career, Beth DiBattista has had her sights set on green-related initiatives and has moved up the ranks from field engineer to estimating engineer and manager of preconstruction and sustainability, overseeing projects in preconstruction and LEED certification. She works to increase awareness of sustainable construction techniques and trains staff in her division. With a civil engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y., DiBattista worked early in her career on a private school expansion project in an environmentally sensitive area of Vermont. The project helped to hone her leadership skills and interest in sustainability. As Turner's single point of client contact on the project, she was responsible for scheduling, budgeting and field coordinating while the school remained in session. As early as 2003, when sustainability and green construction techniques were just becoming part of the industry, DiBattista took on a leadership role at the firm to promote these programs. She led the effort in 2009 to obtain LEED certification for Turner's offices at 22 Corporate Woods Blvd. Her areas of focus were office-wide recycling and energy cost reduction.