About

Firm Background

Aaron Schwarz of Plan A Architecture + Design PLLC looking over renderings with a fellow architect.

Plan A was founded in 2015 by architect Aaron B. Schwarz, FAIA.  The firm is based on the belief that design excellence makes a difference and positively affects our society.  The firm offers programming, planning and architectural design services to both the public and private sector.  Plan A is based in New York City and works on assignments globally.

Prior to starting Plan A, Aaron was a Principal and Executive Director of Perkins Eastman for over 24 years.  Before joining Perkins Eastman, Aaron was a Managing and Design Principal at Perkins + Will, where he worked for 10 years.  Aaron has significant experience and expertise in commercial, residential and education projects.  He has worked extensively in the United States, China and India.  His projects have won numerous design awards and his work has been extensively published.

Design Approach

Excellent design is achieved when we meet more than baseline requirements for function, operations, environmental stewardship, cost, and schedule.  Great design positively affects those who come in contact with the created environment and/or object.  At Plan A, we strive to create buildings, interiors, spaces, indoor and out, that reinforce positive interactions in, among, and within people.  By leveraging our expertise and experience, we are able to provide design solutions that push beyond baseline requirements.

Our team has expertise in the building and program types on which we work.  We stay current to understand the advancements in these different practice areas and sectors.  This thorough knowledge allows us to advance the design of these spaces, as well as focus our design on often overlooked areas.  We are keenly interested in the design of the interstitial spaces in our projects.  We believe that the design of the in-between, the connective tissue, and the many times forgotten spaces are wonderful design opportunities.  These are frequently the spaces with the most fruitful interchanges and interactions between and among people.

Our process involves careful analysis and study of the interrelationship of three aspects unique to each assignment.  These three factors are:

1. People

This is the study of the stakeholders who are influenced and impacted by the current and proposed built environment.  Stakeholders include owners, operators, funders, and users.  It is important to understand each stakeholder’s points of view, aspirations and needs.

2. Purpose

Purpose can simply refer to the intended use, which typically is documented by a program list of required spaces for the project.  However, more importantly for us, purpose also includes the methodology, pedagogy and/or philosophy of each space's expected use, who the spaces will serve now and in the future and what is to be achieved in the occupied spaces.  

3. Place

The study of place is the study of both the physical and non-physical context from various viewpoints.  We analyze the geographic, topological, and climatic conditions in order to create sustainable places. We take note of the surrounding architecture and open spaces.  We also study the historical, social and political nature of the place and how the intended design may influence those elements.

Our design approach focuses on the overlaps, interplay, and synergies, as well as the contradictions we find cross-related between these three factors:  people, program and place.  We look for clues found from this process to pinpoint which aspects we wish to exploit and convert into design opportunities.  This leads us to the development of strong conceptual frameworks for form making spaces and places that are intrinsically tied to the particular assignment.

Plan A's Aaron Schwarz, FAIA, giving a lecture.

In our approach, we use what we have learned through studying of people, purpose and place to inform and influence us in forming both the indoor and outdoor environment.  We try to tell a story through our form-making.  Architecture is our language and vocabulary for this narrative. The forms we create are not made only for form sake.  

Our form making is achieved by capturing and manipulating space - both interior and exterior.  We mold space in many different ways: trapping it between walls, floors, and ceilings; between adjacent buildings and between both natural and man-made landscapes.  We further manipulate that space by controlling how the space is perceived through our five senses.  We control and focus the light, we determine the textures and colors of the physical materials, we control air flows, temperature and humidity, we smell and therefore, taste things that are within and that pass through the spaces we have created.

We strongly believe that following this approach results in design solutions that are acutely site specific and addresses the particulars of a given assignment.