In honor of the life and career of Michael Harris Spector, FAIA, we are proud to announce the Michael Harris Spector Architecture Scholarship Fund.



Michael received his Master’s of Architecture from Syracuse University and was a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architecture. He dedicated his professional career to the creation of innovative architecture.

From his beginnings in the northeastern United States to today, Spector’s work was known around the world.  As Founding Principal of the family business, Spector Group 52 years ago, Michael incorporated his design style, acute business sense and technological expertise to enhance America’s landscape. He did much to define the environment where we live, work, pray, play, and learn.

Michael was known by family, friends and colleagues for his incredible talent, dedication, generosity, integrity and love for architecture. Distinguished by his focus on the “art of design,” professional stewardship, and social responsibility, Michael’s body of work has left a lasting legacy.  To continue his legacy, the Michael Harris Spector Architecture Scholarship has been established at Syracuse University to continue to foster and support future architects and designers.


To make a donation in Michael’s honor, please see information below:

Electronically: Michael Harris Spector Architecture Scholarship

All donations (checks) should be made payable to Syracuse University.
Listed on the check should be “Michael Harris Spector Architecture Scholarship”
All donations (checks) should be sent to:
Traci M. Washburn, G’11
Director, Leadership Annual Giving
Advancement and External Affairs
820 Comstock Ave., Ste. 100, Syracuse, NY 13244














When the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York moved from its 41,000-square-foot, fifth-floor office at 101 Park Avenue to half of the sixth floor and the entire seventh floor in the Manhattan building, in an expansion to 64,200 square feet, it called on the Spector Group to create an openness and warmth that belied staid tradition.

“The existing conditions were very private office heavy and very enclosed, and they were looking to provide connectivity between the managing committee and the rest of the employees,” said Jessica Mann-Amato, a design director at Spector. “So you’re not only providing a visual connection but drawing people together within communal spaces.”


Given a budget of $175 to $190 per rentable square foot (or $11.2 million to $12.2 million), Spector, in a six-month construction process that took place from winter 2016 to last spring, installed an open-office plan that brought the trading floor to the front, used specific lighting changes to delineate formal from informal spaces and employed warmer materials and open designs to imbue the space with a lighter feeling.



“We needed to evoke a sense of warmth and welcomeness so that people felt more open to collaborating,” Mann-Amato said.

The firm found that the warmth of walnut, used in the ceilings and the furniture, was a perfect way to convey this sense of openness.

“We used the walnut in combination with brushed bronze. There are still warm colors, but there’s a lot of white as well,” said firm principal Scott Spector. “There’s a real blending of warmth and technology, and it meets right in the middle.”

Part of the challenge was channeling that warmth and openness while not losing the sense that this was a place of business and a company that was forward-thinking in its use of technology.

To that end, the firm designed a special circular pop-up for video monitors, which drops from the ceiling above the trading area.



“The monitors wrap around the whole perimeter above the trading area,” said David Beauchamp, this project’s architect for Spector. “They have their ticker board with the stocks they’re trading [there as well]. And we incorporated a lighting component within the ceiling that changes colors. It’s an LED picture, and when they bring a client in, they can refine that color for clients to showcase that they’re thinking about their client as they enter the space.”

The end result is a bank that feels friendlier than a traditional bank and a space that conveys the feel of an innovative company without leaving tradition too far in the dust.


“There’s a warmth to the space that is far above your typical banking client,” Spector said. “It’s not heavy white marble; it’s not repetitive work stations all over the place. They’re a bank with technology driving them, but it’s not your typical tech firm with exposed ceilings and startup guts. This is more refined. It’s a fine line that hits all the positives the bank was looking for and creates the environment they wanted.”



Crain’s has released its annual Book of Lists, which includes a listing of the largest 25 New York-area architecture firms, ranked by the number of New York-based architects. The New York area, in this case, includes New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, as well Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties in New Jersey. All of the information is based on 2016 numbers, and most of the information was self-reported by firms. The project totals includes projects in the design stage, under construction, or completed in 2016. In the case of a tie, firms were listed alphabetically. Without a doubt, these are the giants that are shaping New York’s built environment, and far beyond.

1. Gensler

New York-area architects: 254

Worldwide architects: 1,177

U.S. projects: 6,806

International projects: 1,742

2. Perkins Eastman

New York-area architects: 253

Worldwide architects: 452

U.S. projects: 650

International projects: 200

3. HOK

New York-area architects: 224

Worldwide architects: 1,171

U.S. projects: 981

International projects: 814

4. Skidmore, Owings & Merill

New York-area architects: 157

Worldwide architects: 374

U.S. projects: 375

International projects: 3575.

5. Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

New York-area architects: 127

Worldwide architects: 212

U.S. projects: 44

International projects: 164

6. Spector Group

New York-area architects: 86

Worldwide architects: 88

U.S. projects: 169

International projects: 10



7. CetraRuddy Architecture

New York-area architects: 84

Worldwide architects: 84

U.S. projects: 76

International projects: 3


New York-area architects: 75

Worldwide architects: 75

U.S. projects: 136

International projects: 8


9. Ennead Architects

New York-area architects: 72

Worldwide architects: 75

U.S. projects: n/d

International projects: n/d

10. STV Architects Inc.

New York-area architects: 71

Worldwide architects: 93

U.S. projects: 1,712

International projects: 13

11. Robert A.M. Stern Architects

New York-area architects: 64

Worldwide architects: 64

U.S. projects: 186

International projects: 41

12. Gerner Kronick & Valcarcel

New York-area architects: 60

Worldwide architects: n/d

U.S. projects: 75

International projects: 0

13. SLCE Architects

New York-area architects: 57

Worldwide architects: 58

U.S. projects: 63

International projects: 1

14. Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners

New York-area architects: 54

Worldwide architects: 78

U.S. projects: 261

International projects: 21



14. Dattner Architects

New York-area architects: 54

Worldwide architects: 54

U.S. projects: 98

International projects: 0

14. Stephen B. Jacobs Group

New York-area architects: 54

Worldwide architects: 56

U.S. projects: 30

International projects: 2

17. HLW International

New York-area architects: 48

Worldwide architects: 74

U.S. projects: n/d

International projects: n/d

18. CannonDesign

New York-area architects: 47

Worldwide architects: 453

U.S. projects: n/d

International projects: n/d


New York-area architects: 46

Worldwide architects: 1,491

U.S. projects: n/d

International projects: n/d

20. H2M Architects & Engineers

New York-area architects: 43

Worldwide architects: n/d

U.S. projects: n/d

International projects: n/d



21. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects

New York-area architects: 36

Worldwide architects: 36

U.S. projects: 24

International projects: 21

22. Francis Cauffman

New York-area architects: 33

Worldwide architects: 83

U.S. projects: 176

International projects: 1

22. TPG Architecture

New York-area architects: 33

Worldwide architects: 33

U.S. projects: 1,238

International projects: 11

24. EwingCole

New York-area architects: 32

Worldwide architects: 150

U.S. projects: 400

International projects: 0



25. Perkins & Will

New York-area architects: 30

Worldwide architects: 684

U.S. projects: 3,263

International projects: 1,088




There’s an IBM Watson commercial where an elevator technician tells a building’s lobby attendant that he’s there to repair an elevator. The attendant replies that nothing’s wrong with the elevator. The technician tells the attendant that a new guy—Watson—sent him. Then the screen shows a monitor-like device sitting on a small table in a corner. The monitor audibly announces that its data analysis indicates elevator three will malfunction in three days; hence, the need for repair.

Such intuitive technology, where equipment acts on what it perceives to be the next step before being instructed to do so, isn’t limited to elevators. It’s in our computers, smart phones, cars and any number of other personal and public devices. It’s caused a shift that’s affected how we do what we do on many different levels, and one that’s bound to continue to change the way we live as it evolves.

How, then, is intuitive technology affecting office design and the way we work? And what does that mean for the future?

Recently, the Los Angeles Times and CBS News reported instances where employees are being fitted with microchips that track their moves, along with other personal information, and replace the need for swiping cards and carrying keys and other items. Wow.

The thinking plays into what’s already happening in smart buildings, where sensors track the use of lighting, coffee machines, meeting rooms and other spaces, equipment and systems. Some smart building sensors can even connect to smartphone apps to collect data. “Chipping” employees is, perhaps, simply a next step in the technology’s advancement in streamlining efficiencies according to workplace needs, behaviors and tendencies without the hassle of haggling with a digital device. Talk about taking a company’s workplace strategy to the next level.

With employees, the idea is for the chip to act like a piece of tape on the body—a sort of Band-Aid—that’s used during the day. There’d be no need to cull heartbeat or other personal information, as the chip could be coded for activities related to workplace productivity and cost-related benefits, including updating apps as needed. Consider, for instance, the pluses of knowing how employee “Joe Smith” works during the busy season, as well as how often he uses a specific conference room, eats in the office pantry; in effect, how he spends his time here and there. Surely, there are implications for privacy, rights and intellectual property, but it’s easy to see there are clear advantages in the automated tracking of productivity to determine how it can be improved.

Like the way automobile technology has evolved to the point of the driverless car, embedding employees with a microchip provides another level of technologic efficiency in the thirst for data. After all, it’s not just about employee efficiency. Having more information at hand allows for the accommodation of things like air conditioning and other environmental comforts without the need for building sensors.

Earlier this year, Work Design Magazine looked at the implications of impending advancements in technology in the workplace, including things like smaller company offices; flexible, tech-tuned workspaces; fewer tech devices; personalized work environments; heightened cybersecurity; and highly specialized building maintenance crews.

Another consideration is the health implications that microchips could provide in terms of a person’s workday habits, such as how often an employee steps out for a stretch during the day. Or how many cups of coffee he downs.

No, we’re not embedding our employees, but with such technology at our doorstep, it’s something to think about. After all, the technology already is here and being used to some extent. Imagine eliminating the need for a cellphone and how that could affect office design. Now that’s a conversation starter.

New or not, whatever the future holds, advancing technology will be a part of it and, no doubt, an ever-bigger influence over how we live, work and play. Here’s to embracing what lies ahead and using the intelligence most intelligently.

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