There are over 60 unique communities in Staten Island, and architect Lenny Rampulla feels strongly about maintaining each of those diverse neighborhoods.
“It all has to do where people walk and what they see and if it adds to the fabric of the community as opposed to detracting from it. It’s more than just squeezing as many square feet into a box that you can,” said Rampulla, owner of Rampulla Associates Architects LLP. “Each building needs its own personality and it needs to work in conjunction with the personality of the community. That’s why we’ll change different styles to fit whatever community we’re in.”
New Dorp-based Rampulla Associates Architects LLP was created in 1978 by Philip V. Rampulla before Lenny joined his father at the firm several years later. In 1985, Lenny was joined by his brother Philip L., who serves as the urban planner at the company. Together, the brothers have teamed up for hundreds of projects all across Staten Island.
“As creative as the architectural aspect of the firm is, we are still beholden to the NYC approval process. This process is where my brother Philip is creative,” said Lenny. “Not only has he been successful on the state and federal level, without letting the agencies change the designs, but does so in a timely and cost-effective manner.”
Designs are critical because even from the beginning, Rampulla understood the importance of contributing aspects that add to the vibrancy of neighborhoods.
“When I first became involved in architecture, the potential was here, and I was able to see that through my father’s eyes,” said Rampulla. “What bothers me is that there wasn’t enough thought given to designing this Island. There’s just haphazard development in some areas. Some areas are very attractive, and they work well. But others just needed a little more thought.”
For that reason, Rampulla puts great pride in the thought process behind his projects. He cites the condominiums and the office building with the clock tower at the intersection at New Dorp Lane and Richmond Road as prime examples.
“Those were designed to contribute to the fabric of New Dorp,” said the former Lou Miller Business Leadership Award winner.
With over 40 years in business and 25 as a member of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, Rampulla Associates Architects LLP boasts an impressive mix of residential and commercial projects. The firm’s efforts can be seen throughout the borough as some of its more recent, high-profile projects include The Plaza shopping center along Hylan Boulevard in New Dorp, Tottenville Square along Page Avenue, and some of the newer additions to the Staten Island Mall. Through the years, the architectural firm’s projects have garnered several awards during the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce’s annual Building Awards.
“We stayed as a general practice, and we did not specialize in one particular area. So, as the market fluctuated, we were able to fluctuate with it. What that brought for us was the need to get into different sections of the NYC Zoning Resolution and the NYC Building Code,” said Rampulla. “The relevance came about with both the market and then learning different areas we hadn’t been in before that was either residential or commercial. And that helped us stay current.”
Staying current is a key factor for his firm’s success, and the architect/owner said his Chamber membership is an excellent source to help him gain new insights.
“We will host some seminars here at the office for Monsignor Farrell or Curtis High School students who may be interested in architecture or engineering. The young people that we have here in the office have brought with them young ideas,” he said. “Staying with the Chamber is the same thing. It’s the young members that are coming in with new ideas. By listening to their ideas and viewpoints, it just keeps it moving forward.”
Rampulla added that the support from the Chamber is still prevalent today comparable to when he first joined 25 years ago.
“I appreciated what was happening at that time by the Chamber. They stood up where it counted helping small businesses on Staten Island. They were then, and they are today, out there fighting and putting up the good fight for us,” he said.