Joseph Goldstein, AIA, IDEC, NCARB is the principal and founder of JGArchitects, a firm that specializes in architectural interiors. He has designed office spaces for consulates and permanent missions to the United Nations and corporations such as AIG, Kawasaki, Goldman Sachs, Nippon Telephone & Telegraph, and Siemens. He has also designed projects for the Chelsea Arts District Gallery, Cuban Art Space, Cakeshop, Laugh Lounge, and a number of private residences. Goldstein has taught design studio courses at NYSID since 2004. He currently teaches Contract Design I & II to undergraduates.
What’s the difference between architecture and interior design?
There is a definite difference, but also a significant overlap between the two courses of study. Dean Ellen Fisher made me aware of studies done that compared interior design and architectural education programs and it was found that there is a 65 percent overlap in content — which means that 35 percent of the subject matter is unique to interior design.
What do you teach in Contract Design studios I & II?
Drawing on my professional experience, I teach students specific, pragmatic contract design information related to acoustics, code, egress, accessibility, sustainability, security, lighting, and more. At the same time, I teach students, essentially, to think as designers. This includes ways to approach and develop a design.
These approaches to design could be applied to subjects as varied as the design of shoelaces or the design of a city — and they will be as relevant in 50 years as they are today. What unites these approaches is starting with a question — perhaps even an unanswerable one. I teach my students that the design must have its basis in research, especially visual/spatial research using sketching or model making.
What do you love about teaching?
A studio class can be like a laboratory in which idealized, pure design research can occur. This atmosphere is difficult to achieve in the sometimes exhilarating but decidedly non-pure environment of the job site. The discoveries made within the studio class have a way of building from one semester to the next, leading to new areas of inquiry — aided by the observations of the remarkable resource pool of guest jurors available in New York City.
My role is to set the bar high in every way imaginable, and when students make the leap, far surpassing their own expectations and literally growing as designers before my eyes, it is truly magical.
You have designed Permanent Missions to the United Nations. How do you create a visual brand for an entire country?
For me, the key is to listen closely to the client, so that JGArchitects becomes an interpreter of a client’s most heartfelt beliefs, however qualified or contradictory, about their country and its place in the international community. The key component of this conversation, which gives us our credibility, is the research. Especially important is travelling to the country. The trip might include visiting heritage sites, museums, small towns, and the capital city, all the while observing landscapes, flora and fauna; and touring government buildings.