Our firm’s design philosophy is simple. It is based on a belief that the decision making process is the foundation to a successful project. To that end we work along with our clients to fully understand their goals, aspirations and programmatic needs.
Over the years we have applied this approach to a diverse group of clients which includes housing of all types and income levels, educational and health care institutions, performing arts venues, and public agencies. We believe that we also have a commitment to the community at large in terms of relating to the social and physical context and protecting and sustaining the environment.
We have sought to develop unique and innovative solutions to the design of the built environment. For example, RKTB was one of the pioneers in developing approaches to adapting existing buildings to new uses. More recently, we worked collaboratively on the development of a low-density infill housing prototype which was developed to provide the maximum amount of affordable housing in working class communities throughout New York City.
As we continue, RKTB looks forward to serving existing and new clients in addressing their needs and in turn achieving their goals through innovative, well designed and well-functioning environments.
RKTB has a strong commitment to sustainable design in all aspects of our practice. We employ LEED and Passive House professionals who spearhead the implementation of sustainable principles, and have designed buildings for LEED certification and compliance with Enterprise Green Communities criteria (“the standard for sustainable futures”) and the New York City School Construction Authority’s (SCA) Green Schools Guide for public school design.
As determined by the Mayor's Office of Environmental Coordination, the NYC Green Schools Rating System meets or exceeds LEED standards for New Construction, version 2.2, for the achievement of a LEED Certified rating (the minimum required by Local Law 86/2005 for school projects). RKTB is also celebrated for its pioneering work in adaptive reuse, or the recycling of buildings for new purposes—the most fundamental form of sustainability.
Carmi Bee, FAIA
Carmi Bee, FAIA, a graduate of The Cooper Union and Princeton University, is the president of RKTB, a registered architect in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, and an educator as well as practicing architect.
Mr. Bee has been with RKTB since 1965 when he worked as a student intern and became a partner in 1981. He is also Emeritus Professor of Architectural Design at The City College of New York. Mr. Bee is committed to creating environments that serve human needs and develop a sense of historic continuity while respecting the physical and social context. His growing recognition as a leading designer has been distinguished by such projects as the development of the Infill Housing Prototype, OMO Norma Kamali, Turtle Bay Towers, River Rose/Park Rose in Battery Park City, Memphis Downtown, the City Center Theater, and the South Orange Performing Arts Center in New Jersey.
His honors, awards, and professional affiliations include: the John Hejduk Award, The Cooper Union; Distinguished Alumni Award, The Cooper Union; Fellowship Grant, National Endowment for the Arts; Research Grant, National Institute for Architectural Education; Research Fellowship, Princeton University, Center for Urban and Environmental Studies; and The Cooper Union Board of Trustees. Mr. Bee has received many design awards, including: First Honor Award for Design Excellence, National AIA; the Andrew J. Thomas Award for housing design, AIA NY Chapter; and Juror, New Housing New York Design Ideas Competition. He is a member of the New York City Citizens Housing & Planning Council (CHPC) and the AIANY Housing Committee; serves on the Advisory Board for the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization; is a Board Member of the Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro, Massachusetts; and is a former Chair of the Board of Directors of Westbeth Artists' Housing in New York City.
Peter Bafitis, AIA
Peter Bafitis, AIA, has over thirty years of experience in the design and construction of a diverse range of projects including multifamily housing, schools, hospitals, transportation projects, adaptive reuse, and large scale urban design work. This experience has been concentrated in the New York metropolitan area but has also included work in Washington, DC and Florida as well as international work in Japan and Nigeria. Mr. Bafitis has focused his career on strengthening the urban environment by reinforcing the social institutions that sustain it. This has centered on neighborhood preservation achieved most prominently through the design and integration of affordable housing, K-12 schools, and transportation facilities.
As managing principal at RKTB since 2004, Mr. Bafitis has been responsible for building design, new project development, and overall company management. Since joining the firm in 1995 he has directed some of RKTB’s largest projects for both public and private clients, advancing the firm’s already recognized expertise in multifamily housing and adaptive re-use. He has been especially instrumental in bolstering the firm’s commitment to public sector work which has included extensive experience with many New York City and State agencies.
A registered architect in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, he currently serves as co-chairman of the AIA NY Chapter Housing Committee and is also a member of the CFA Foundation Scholarship Committee. Mr. Bafitis resides in Sea Cliff, NY where he has been prominent in the establishment of policy affecting the village’s rich architectural resources.
Albert Aronov, AIA
A registered architect in New York specializing in building restoration as well as new construction, Albert Aronov, AIA, joined RKTB after completing his Bachelors of Architecture degree at The City College of New York School of Architecture and Environmental Studies. He was promoted to Associate in 2003, Senior Associate in 2007 and Associate Principal in 2014, and named a partner in 2015.
Mr. Aronov has managed a range of projects at RKTB including academic, residential, commercial and historic preservation. He has led the education studio since 2004, supervising a large volume of projects for the New York City School Construction Authority. His high level of technical knowledge in exterior envelope work makes him an expert in the field.
Mr. Aronov is a member of the NYC/AIA Education Committee.
Alex Brito, AIA
Alex Brito, AIA, is a registered architect in New York State with design, production and project management experience in a variety of sectors. An alumnus of The City College of New York School of Architecture and Environmental Studies, he joined RKTB in 1992 and was promoted to Associate in 2003, Senior Associate in 2007 and Associate Principal in 2014. He was named a partner in 2015.
Mr. Brito has worked extensively on pre-design phases of projects such as zoning analyses and NYC building code analyses. Project types include affordable, supportive and market-rate multi-family housing; transportation; civic and cultural; and educational. Major projects he has managed include East Clarke Place Court, Salem House, Site 8 Apartments, Cathedral Gardens, Anchor House for Women, P.S.29Q, and The AirTrain terminal in Jamaica, Queens.
Mr. Brito is a member of the NYC/AIA Housing Committee.
Nelson Vega, Assoc. AIA
Nelson Vega, Assoc. AIA, joined RKTB in 1998. A graduate of The City College of New York School of Architecture and Environmental Studies, he became an Associate at the firm in 2003 and Senior Associate in 2014, and was named Associate Principal in March of 2018.
In his years with RKTB Mr. Vega has helped coordinate the firm's design and construction efforts for a diverse range of projects types, including multifamily housing, private residential homes and school renovations; and healthcare, transportation, theatre, senior housing, and adaptive reuse projects. He was notably involved with the award-winning 455 Central Park West, a SHPO-approved, high-end, residential landmark building, from 2000 until its completion in 2005. He has also managed and overseen the successful completion of several affordable housing projects throughout New York City, including the Madison Putnam Housing project and the award-winning Maynard Co-ops and Msgr. Anthony J. Barretta Apartments.
Most recently, Mr. Vega has been involved with market-rate and luxury projects and was responsible for overseeing the successful execution of The Williamsburg Social, one of Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s most distinguished, market rate, mixed-use multifamily buildings; 433 Broadway, an award-winning office building in SoHo; and several other prominent residential buildings in New York City.
Alex Barclay, AIA, LEED BD+C
Alex Barclay, AIA, is both a registered architect and LEED BD+C accredited. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he joined RKTB in 2011 as a Project Architect for educational projects, promoted to Associate in 2015, and was named Associate Principal in January of 2024.
Since joining the firm Mr. Barclay has worked on numerous New York City School Construction Authority projects, including the addition to P.S. 70 in Queens and multiple Universal Pre-Kindergarten renovations. His previous experience includes a variety of different building types, such as an 8,500 SF, multi-million dollar home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; a 2,200 SF renovation of an Upper East Side apartment; and a 26-story dorm in the East Village. He is experienced in all phases of project development, from pre-design to construction administration.
Stephanie Oestreich, AIA, CCCA, LEED AP
Stephanie Oestreich, AIA, CCCA, LEED AP, joined RKTB in 2018 and became an Associate in 2021. She is a registered architect with licenses in New York State and California, an NCARB certificate holder, and a LEED accredited professional. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, and a Bachelor of Arts in the History of Art and Architecture from Tufts University.
With more than 20 years of experience in the architecture, glazing, and building envelope fields, Ms. Oestreich has been involved in all phases, with a focus on Design Development through Construction Administration. She is currently managing a rehabilitation of New York City Housing Authority developments in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and the design of a new heating plant at NYCHA’s Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, and has been involved with construction administration for a condominium project on the Upper West Side.
Projects she managed before joining RKTB include a maintenance and operations facility for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a water quality testing laboratory for the Orange County California Water District, and several Hurricane Sandy recovery projects for the New York City Housing Authority.
Nelya Sachakova, AIA, Certified Passive House Designer
Nelya Sachakova, AIA, Certified Passive House Designer, began her career at RKTB as an intern while studying at The City College of New York for her Master’s in Architecture. Ms. Sachakova became a full-time Architectural Designer with the firm upon receiving her degree in 2015 and was promoted to Associate in 2021. Her work includes Capacity & Capital Improvement Projects for the NYC School Construction Authority, multi-family residential buildings, and most recently, a religious space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Ms. Sachakova's interest in environmentally responsible architecture led her to acquire a certification in Passive House design, with which she will contribute to RKTB’s commitment to tackling climate change – notably referred to as "the fundamental design problem of our time."
Milan Savanovic, AIA
Milan Savanovic, AIA, joined RKTB in 2008 and was named an Associate in 2021. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the New York Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University with design studio experience in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Czechia.
By collaborating with clients and the local community on past projects, Mr. Savanovic can identify what a local neighborhood requires, focusing on site, culture, and the environment. With more than 20 years of professional experience, he is responsible for all phases of design and construction on a wide range of projects from multi-family residential buildings to boutique commercial buildings, from historic townhouse renovations to transportation projects, and from private homes to educational facilities.
Recently, Mr. Savanovic managed the rehabilitation of 21 buildings for the Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC), eight buildings for the Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY), and nine buildings for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). He is also involved in multiple affordable, market rate, and luxury housing projects throughout New York City.
Joseph Berlinghieri, AIA, NCARB
Joseph Berlinghieri, AIA, NCARB, joined RKTB in 2017 with over 20 years of prior experience as an architect and designer on projects ranging from multi-family residential to educational and institutional. He was promoted to Associate in May of 2022. Mr. Berlinghieri currently teaches Architectural Design at The New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Hillier College of Architecture & Design, and is a member of the Riverview Neighborhood Association Development Committee, Co-Founder/Lifetime Trustee at the Sand Pond Foundation, and a Board Member of the 50 Reservoir Condominium Association. He also recently served as guest critic at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Tara Toro, Operations Manager
Ms. Toro is a graduate of Pace University with a degree in Business Administration. Since joining RKTB in 2008, Ms. Toro has expanded her responsibilities to encompass office operations, finance management, and human resources assuming, a prominent leadership role in the firm. She provides a strong operational foundation, which allows our growing practice to consistently produce high-quality work.
Together with the firm’s principals and the accounting professionals, Ms. Toro manages the company’s burgeoning finances helping the firm to stay profitable and efficient while also helping to shape firm policy from staffing to project management. In addition, she has shepherded the implementation of increasingly complex computer and communications technology necessary to successfully run an Architectural firm.
Luanne Konopko, Assoc. AIA
As RKTB’s Marketing Director, Luanne Konopko, Associate AIA, supports the firm’s principals in business development and manages their marketing activities. Ms. Konopko joined RKTB in 1999 with over 20 years of previous experience in communications, business administration, and project management.
A Chicago transplant, she has a Liberal Arts education from Northern Illinois University and SUNY Empire State College, a Bachelor’s in Design Office Management from the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, and Land Use Leadership Alliance Certification from Pace University’s Land Use Law Center. In keeping with RKTB’s social agenda, she has a long history of community activism and also served as both an appointed and elected official in Rockland County, NY, where she has lived for more than thirty years.
HONORS & AWARDS
Building Design+Construction's 2023 Giants 400 Report - Top 160 Apartment and Condominium Architecture Firms for 2023
Architectural Record – Top 300 Architecture Firms 2023
Architectural Record – Top 300 Architecture Firms 2023
Building Design+Construction's 2023 Giants 400 Report - Top 175 Architecture Firms for 2023
Global Excellence Awards 2022 “Most Inclusive Architecture Firm - New York” from LUXlife Magazine
Architectural Record – Top 300 Architecture Firms 2022
Public School 19 Addition - Renovation/Addition 2022 Citation - Excelsior & Professional Service Award - AIA New York State
Most Outstanding Architecture Practice Specializing in the Residential, Commercial and Institutional Sectors, 2022 – Manhattan, New York - BUILD Magazine
Residential (One, Two, Three Family & Apartment Buildings) Award for 700 Manida Street (Phoenix Estates II) - Queens & Bronx Building Association (QBBA)
Architectural Record – Top 300 Architecture Firms 2021
Architectural Record – Top 300 Architecture Firms 2020
BUILD Magazine Architecture Award 2019 – Best Supportive Housing Design Firm – New York
2019 Home and Garden Awards – Residential Architecture Firm of the Year – New York from BUILD Magazine
2019 Home and Garden Awards – Sustained Excellence in Institutional Design from BUILD Magazine
BUILD Magazine 2019 Design and Build Awards – Ones to Watch for New York
First Prize Award – Rehabilitation, Readaptive Use, Alteration, or Addition – Schools and Colleges from the Queens Chamber of Commerce for Universal Pre-Kindergarten Q972
Best Residential Interior Design Firm 2018 – New York from BUILD Magazine
Brick in Architecture 2017 Gold Award from the Brick Industry Association for the Addition to PS 70Q
Design Award of Merit from SARA NY (Society of American Registered Architects | New York Council) in Recognition of Professional Design Excellence for 433 Broadway
ArchitizerA+Awards 2017 Finalist – Office Mid-Rise Category for 433 Broadway
BUILD Magazine Interior Design Award 2017 – Best for Institutional Design – New York
2016 USA Construction Excellence Award from BUILD Magazine
Building Award for Excellence in Design and Construction from the Queens & Bronx Building Association for the Msgr. Anthony J. Barretta Apartments
Excellence in Design from the Queens Chamber of Commerce for the Sutphin Boulevard Arcade Shops
Gold Medal Award from the Building of America Network for 166 Montague Street
Gold Medal Award from the Building of America Network for 1465 & 1473 Fifth Avenue (HPD Site 8)
Building Award for Excellence in Design and Construction from the Queens & Bronx Building Association for Bergen Dean Housing
Community Service Award from Construction Communications for 455 Central Park West
HD Award Finalist from Hospitality Design magazine for Delicatessen
The Building of America Plaque of Honor from Construction Communications for SOPAC (South Orange Performing Arts Center)
Award of Merit from the AIA New York State for the AirTrain Terminal at Jamaica Station, in association with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Top Ten STARchitect Award from Development NY-Residential Magazine
Excellence in Structural Engineering Award from the National Council of Structural Engineering Associations for SOPAC (South Orange Performing Arts Center)
Andrew J. Thomas Award from the AIA New York Chapter for significant contributions to housing in New York City
Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy for The Towers, 455 Central Park West
Best of 2004 Annual Award, Project of the Year: Adaptive Reuse from New York Construction for The Towers, 455 Central Park West
Preservation Award from the Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America for the restoration of the New York Cancer Hospital at The Towers, 455 Central Park West
Gold Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York for The Towers, 455 Central Park West
Roger H. Corbetta Award of Merit from the Concrete Industry Board for The Towers, 455 Central Park West
American Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design for the AirTrain Terminal at Jamaica Station in association with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Best of 2004 Annual Award, Project of the Year: Airport from New York Construction for the AirTrain Terminal at Jamaica Station in association with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Restoration Award from Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts for the restoration of the Swedish Consulate Residence
BOMA/New York Award, Honorable Mention for excellence in modernization/ restoration for 40 West Twenty-third Street
Restoration Award from the Preservation League of New York State for the renovation and restoration of City Center Theater
Interiors Award from Interiors magazine for the Fifty-fifth Street Dance Theater at City Center
Albert S. Bard Award for excellence in architecture and urban design from the City Club of New York for the Fifty-fifth Street Dance Theater at City Center
Lumen Award from the New York Section Illuminating Engineering Society for the West Coast Apartments
Builders Choice Grand Award from Builder magazine and the National Association of Home Builders for West Coast Apartments
Builders Choice Grand Award for excellence in design and planning from Builder magazine and Better Homes and Gardens magazine for the apartments at Eagle Warehouse
Merit Award for an outstanding contribution to Homes for Better Living from the AIA and Housing magazine for the apartments at Eagle Warehouse
Merit Award from the Concrete Industry Board, Inc. of New York for 525 East Eightieth Street
Builders Choice Honorable Mention for excellence in design and planning from Builder magazine and Better Homes and Gardens magazine for 525 East Eightieth Street
Builders Choice Grand Award for excellence in design and planning from Builder magazine and Better Homes and Gardens magazine for 459 Twelfth Street, Brooklyn
First Honor Award for an outstanding contribution to Homes for Better Living from the AIA and Housing magazine for 459 Twelfth Street, Brooklyn
Merit Award for an outstanding contribution to Homes for Better Living from the AIA and Housing magazine for Shepherd House
Albert S. Bard Award for merit in architecture and urban design from the City Club of New York for Turtle Bay Towers
National Honor Award for excellence in architectural design from the AIA for Turtle Bay Towers
First Honor Award for an outstanding contribution to Homes for Better Living from the AIA and Housing magazine for Turtle Bay Towers
Merit Award for Excellence in Design from the New York State Association of Architects for Turtle Bay Towers
Merit Award for Excellence in Design from the New York State Association of Architects for River Rose/Park Rose, Battery Park City
Builder's Spotlight Merit Award from Builder magazine for Memphis Downtown
- Achievement First
- American Hospital LTD
- Anchor House Inc.
- Artimus Construction
- Big Apple Circus
- Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center
- Brooklyn Botanical Garden
- Brooklyn Museum
- Brooks Memorial United Methodist Church
- CPC Resources
- Cammebys International LTD
- Catholic Charities
- City Center Theater
- City University of New York (CUNY)
- Congregation Beth Elohim
- Congregation Shaare Zedek
- Cooke Center for Learning and Development
- Dormitory Authority of the State of New York
- Fifth Avenue Committee
- Forest City Ratner Companies
- Greater Jamaica Development Corp.
- Greyston Foundation
- Ivy Equities
- Jonathan Rose Companies, Inc.
- Low Income Housing Corp. (LISC)
- M. Rapaport Co. Inc.
- MCL Companies
- MHANY MAnagement
- Magnum real Estate Group
- Manatus Development Group
- Manhattan Theater Club
- Museum for the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences
- New York City Department of Education
- New York City Department of Design and Construction
- New York City Department of Homeless Services
- New York City Housing Authority
- New York City School Construction Authority
- New York Methodist Hospital
- New York Public Library
- New York State Office of General Services
- New York University
- OMO Norma Kamali, Inc.
- Our Lady of Czestochowa School
- Park East Synagogue
- Phipps Houses
- Phoenix House of New York
- The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- Princeton University
- Quadriad Realty Partners
- Rockrose Development Corp.
- SL Green Realty Corp.
- Silvercup Properties
- South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC)
- Stella Adler Studio of Acting
- Sumaida + Khurana
- Symphony Space
- The Cooper Union
- The Port Authority of New York & New
- Time Equities Development Corp.
- Triton Realty Group
- United Management Realty Corp.
- United Methodist City Society
- United States Department of Labor
- Volmar Construction
- Williams Real Estate
- WSP USA
- YTM Ltd.
- Yale University