As a downtown Manhattan resident, Frederic Schwartz, FAIA, unfortunately had a front seat view of the destruction and devastation caused on September 11, 2001.
Photo by Lynne Bookey
"I live ten blocks from the Trade Center," said Schwartz, who is a Plainview Old Bethpage JFK High School graduate. "I saw it - I heard it," he said of the planes flying overhead and hitting the towers.
As an architect, he was an integral part of changing the course of post-9/11 planning through his work that facilitated an open site for the 9/11 memorial and a way to repair the city's skyline.
He has an extensive architectural background, which includes designing the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, which is used by 21 million people a year.
Schwartz calls his work a "Robin Hood Practice." "I take the income from my profitable work and do projects that help people," he said. "I was selected by the people of New Orleans to be involved in their re-development and I replanned one third of New Orleans. I am very proud of that."
Schwartz credits his charitable nature to his parents. "My parents really taught me the lessons of giving and working hard," he said. "My mother is 85 years old and she drives a half hour to read to someone who is blind. She is still helping people and to me that is heroic."
Schwartz was recognized by First Lady Laura Bush at the National Design Awards held at the White House. She stated: "Frederic Schwartz is an activist and a humanist whose career has been dedicated to some of America's most visible public projects. As a downtown Manhattan resident, after witnessing the tragedies of September 11 firsthand, Schwartz began drawing and drawing again as a healing process, re-envisioning the city to help mend its wounds. He founded the THINK team, a finalist for re-planning the World Trade Center."
Schwartz was unanimously selected by the family groups to design both the New Jersey State and Westchester County 9/11 Memorials to honor more than 900 loved ones. He is a recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize in Architecture and was selected by the Architecture League of New York for both the Young Architect's Award and as an Emerging Voice in Architecture.
Schwartz gets his inspiration from a variety of places, but for his post 9/11 work, he said he gets inspiration from the family members who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks. "My friend took his boys to school, went to work and never came home," he said. "I have the architectural skills and I am able to help through my architecture. There is one mother who goes to the memorial in Westchester every day - that gives me strength and shows me that I am using my talents for good."
For his dedication to using architecture to heal New York at one of the most difficult times in the history of the city, the New York City Hall of Fame inducted Schwartz into its first class of honorees.
The purpose of the NYC Hall of Fame is to honor remarkable New Yorkers who have contributed to the betterment of the city and to serve as role models for children.