Institute of Design and Construction

Former site of the Institute of Design and Construction on Willoughby Street in downtown Brooklyn.

Vincent Battista, former President of the Institute of Design and Construction, speaks about the Institute and its history. His remarks were made at an IDC Foundation dinner for grantees in October 2018.

The Institute of Design and Construction was a nonprofit technical college in downtown Brooklyn, NY, founded in 1947 by Vito P. Battista, RA. Accredited by the New York State Board of Regents, it offered Associate degrees in Building Construction Technology and Architectural Design Technology as well as a variety of continuing and professional education courses. It constantly endeavored to provide the highest-quality education, grounded in industry experience without sacrificing personal attention to the student. It closed in July 2015. 

 

The purpose of the Institute was to serve the building construction industry by dedicating itself to programs of instruction that dealt with the real world of construction. Through the undertaking of that objective, the Institute prepared each student with a solid technical foundation as well as exposure to actual construction methodology and techniques in use by the industry. The experience gained at the Institute, in many cases, served as incentive for additional studies at four-year institutions.

 

The goals of the Institute were threefold:

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  1. Provide students with the highest-quality education at an affordable cost;

  2. Provide students with real-world exposure to the profession;

  3. Encourage students to continue their education at a higher level after graduation.

 

The implementation of these goals was achieved through a structured program of study, small classes, and a professional teaching staff. Through its program, the Institute attained an excellent reputation within the building construction industry.

Its Impact on the Design and Construction Industry

The Institute of Design and Construction had an extraordinary impact on the design and construction industry in New York. “The school trained more than 30,000 students as architects, engineers and draftsmen, as well as other construction jobs,” according to The New York Times. Opening opportunities for disadvantaged students, the Times continued, “Mr. Battista provided financial help to poor students at the school.”

 

The Institute began as an evening school in December 1947 at 26 Court Street in Brooklyn. Approximately 100 students enrolled, with eight instructors teaching 11 subjects. In 1952, the Institute's courses of study were approved by the Veterans Administration. In 1955, the Institute was organizationally changed to a not-for-profit institution and received a provisional charter for its curriculum leading to a Certificate in Architecture and a Certificate in Engineering. Later that year, the Institute purchased a landmark church building at 311 Bridge Street. By then, the Institute had an enrollment of approximately 450 students, with 35 instructors teaching 58 subjects.

 

In 1968, the Institute purchased the American Law Book building at 141 Willoughby Street, where it remained until it closed in 2015. In 1974, it was authorized by the New York State Board of Regents to confer Associate Degrees of Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) in Architectural Technology, Building Construction Technology and Building Systems Design Technology. That same year, the school was approved for the Basic Education Opportunity Grant (BEOG) Program (now the Pell Grant Program) by the U.S. Office of Education. The New York State Department of Education approved the Institute for the Tuition Assistance Program and training of veterans. The Institute was granted an Absolute Charter of complete and permanent college status in March of 1975.

 

The Institute was a pioneer in the educational program now known as Work/Study. This full-time day program was started in 1952 and consisted of two semesters of accelerated course study in the architectural and building construction fields. At the end of the first year, students worked during the day and returned to evening school to complete their training toward an Associate Degree in Occupational Studies. This Work/Study program required 2½ years to complete. The evening school program required three years to complete. In 1997, the Institute added an Interior Design major to its Architectural Technology program.

 

The Institute's day program made available an architectural or construction education to talented students in the shortest possible time and made an education in these fields attainable for students who were unable to afford a full-time university education. The Institute graduated highly trained individuals who met the demands of the building construction industry. It maintained a free job placement service for its students and achieved an excellent reputation for supplying highly prepared personnel to architectural, interior design, construction, and engineering firms.

Its Founder: Vito P. Battista

Vito Battista was a first-generation Italian-American architect, who believed so passionately in providing others with the opportunity to have a better life through a career in architecture or building construction technologies that, while still in his 30s, he founded the Institute of Design and Construction, a nonprofit educational institution devoted to doing just that. By the time it closed in 2015, it had educated 30,000 students as architects, engineers and draftsmen, as well as for other construction jobs.

 

Mr. Battista was born in Bari, Italy and came to New York when he was three years old. As a teenager, he left high school to help his father run an ice business in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. He then attended evening school before earning an architecture degree from Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University, and a Master’s degree in architecture from MIT. He also did graduate studies at L’Ecole de Beaux Arts in France, the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York, and Columbia University.

 

Mr. Battista participated in designing the 1939 World’s Fair, the Brooklyn Civic Center, the State Supreme Court Building on Cadman Plaza, and many other large public buildings. He was president of the Brooklyn Society of Architects and the Brooklyn chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and was a director of the New York Society of Architects and the New York Association of Architects.

 

He also served in the New York State Legislature, representing the 38th Assembly District in Brooklyn from 1969 to 1975 as a Republican in the heavily Democratic borough. As The New York Times wrote, “He viewed himself as a spokesman for ‘the little people’ and ‘the oppressed taxpayer.’ A blunt tough-talking campaigner, Mr. Battista often resorted to gimmicks to garner attention… Parading a camel through lower Manhattan, Mr. Battista warned that if politicians adopted another tax measure its back would break.”

© 2018 IDC Foundation