CO Adaptive Architecture was founded in 2011 in New York City by Ruth Mandl and Bobby Johnston. Amidst an industry that is highly predicated on the finished image of architecture, we want to turn the focus to the means of making and maintaining it.

All our work aims to strike a balance between reducing operational energy and minimizing embodied energy; which is a creative challenge but needed for a sustainable future. We work with existing buildings, retrofitting them for resilience and durability with healthy, equitably sourced, local and renewable materials. Reuse is an important part of this equation because it stores carbon and doesn’t require extraction, manufacturing, and transport of new materials/ assemblies.

Most of our projects are designed to meet the Passive House standard; aiming to reduce active heating and cooling loads by 80-90%; and with the deployment of solar, achieving net positive operational energy.

Often, these two agendas - minimizing operational energy and embodied energy - are at direct odds with one another. In order to retrofit an old building for energy efficiency and to fulfill new uses, material is generally removed. It is along this boundary that we find our main mission and role to innovate.

In an effort to have more impact on this process of taking old buildings apart; focusing on deconstruction, shaping attitudes about “waste”  as well as ensuring careful sustainable product specifications, we launched our construction arm - CO Adaptive Building - two and a half years ago, when CO Adaptive Architecture turned 10.

Our practice is doing our best to reuse the carbon found in the old buildings we renovate. We always carefully assess and analyze - alongside our clients and partners - what must go, and what can be reused in a renovation. It is in these careful acts of maintenance, repair and reuse that we think the building industry has a lot of growth and discovery to do in order to take our cities into the next century.

We are strong believers that design and building is a process rather than an end result; it should be a collaborative practice that works to solve today’s biggest challenges—and does this by building upon the past rather than reinventing it.

CO Adaptive has won numerous awards for their work, including winning the MASterworks Design Award for Best Adaptive Reuse in 2023. They have been recognized as a Design Vanguard by Architectural Record, featured as a Next Progressive by ARCHITECT Magazine, and were show-cased in the inaugural exhibition Architecture Now: New York, New Publics at The Museum of Modern Art, which was on view from February through July 2023.

Coadaptive def: | adjective biology |

mutually adapted; mutually accommodating.

Team

  Bobby Johnston, AIA, CPHD, Principal    Bobby loves connecting disparate concepts into functional systems; developing technical workflows and assemblies that streamline the way buildings and businesses can improve.  He is a licensed architect in New York and holds a Master of Architecture from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from UC Berkeley. Bobby is a Certified Passive House Designer as of 2016 and has been practicing architecture since 1998.    e-mail  /    linked-in profile

Bobby Johnston, AIA, CPHD, Principal

Bobby loves connecting disparate concepts into functional systems; developing technical workflows and assemblies that streamline the way buildings and businesses can improve. He is a licensed architect in New York and holds a Master of Architecture from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from UC Berkeley. Bobby is a Certified Passive House Designer as of 2016 and has been practicing architecture since 1998.

Email // Linkedin Profile


  Ruth Mandl, AIA, Principal    Ruth wants to create architecture that respects and ties in with the planet’s natural cycles, to find a new equilibrium with them.  She is licensed in New York and Massachusetts. Ruth completed her Master of Architecture at Columbia University and a BA in Interior Architecture at Kingston University in London. She is currently working toward accreditation in the Living Building Challenge.    e-mail  /    linked-in profile

Ruth Mandl, AIA, Principal

Ruth wants to create architecture that respects and ties in with the planet’s natural cycles, to find a new equilibrium with them. Ruth is licensed in New York and Massachusetts; she completed her Master of Architecture at Columbia University and a BA in Interior Architecture at Kingston University in London. Ruth’s Grandfather was an Architect in Vienna, Austria and she grew up amongst drawing tables and set squares. She has practicing architecture since 2002.

Email // Linkedin Profile


Dave Sidick, AIA
Senior Associate
Construction Director

Dave thinks that architecture should tell a story, and what better place to start than with objects and buildings that already have so much to say? He graduated with a Master of Architecture from Kent State University in 2017 and is now an active member of the Brooklyn chapter of the AIA. Dave joined the COA team in the fall of 2019.

  Leon Frazier, AIA, Associate, Technical Architect    Leon believes in doing more with less and applies this to both how they approach architecture, and to guide their low-impact lifestyle.  They graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Lousiana State University in 2013 and received licensure in New York State in 2021. Leon joined the COA team in the summer of 2019.
Leon Frazier, AIA
Associate
Technical Architect

Leon believes in doing more with less and applies this to both how they approach architecture, and to guide their low-impact lifestyle. They graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Lousiana State University in 2013 and received licensure in New York State in 2021. Leon joined the COA team in the summer of 2019.

  Joanne Yau, Senior Designer    Joanne is moved by a sense of place - situating ourselves in land, stories, and the cosmos by through the materials in our midst.  She graduated with a Master of Architecture from the University of Waterloo in 2019 and joined COA in the spring of 2022.
Joanne Yau, Senior Designer

Joanne is moved by a sense of place - situating ourselves in land, stories, and the cosmos by through the materials in our midst. She graduated with a Master of Architecture from the University of Waterloo in 2019 and joined COA in the spring of 2022.


Will Jarrott, Lead Carpenter

Will has a passion for enduring structures in a world necessitating change, and working toward finding new, equitable processes to provide sustainable, safe, and healthy shelter to all. Will completed a B.A. in Environmental Studies at Loyola University Chicago and has worked in construction for 9 years. He joined the COA team in early 2023.



Lily Cretekos-Gross, Carpenter

Lily is curious about how and why a building can be responsive to its inhabitants, the environment, and the community.  Lily received a Bachelor of Arts in Ecological Building and Landscape Design from Sterling College, Vermont, and has been working as a Carpenter for 5 years. She joined the CO Adaptive team in early 2023.


Liga Brammanis, Senior Designer

Liga is driven by architecture that is designed and constructed with care for communities and natural ecosystems, both locally and globally.⁠ Liga graduated with her Master of Architecture from the University of Waterloo in 2022 and joined COA in November 2022.


Julie Fuchs, Lead Carpenter

Julie is is passionate about well-built structures and objects; and the thoughtful use and re-use of materials.  She has a BA in American Studies from Brown University, a Certificate in Horticulture from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and is a Certified Passive House Tradesperson. Her past work includes carpentry, Japanese style timber framing, furniture making and art fabrication for 30 years.


Liam Higgins, Apprentice Carpenter

Liam is interested in building spaces that cultivate a sense of community and a shared feeling of belonging and collaboration, whilst also promoting sustainability and connection to our natural environment. He has only recently begun to explore the world of carpentry and woodworking within the last two years and has a certificate of learning from Brooklyn Woods. Liam joined COA in the summer of 2023.


Paul Greenway, Designer

Paul's inspiration is found in architecture that can facilitate programmatic flexibility and maintain material usability during and after a building's lifecycle. Paul graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon in 2022.  He interned with COA in the summer of 2021 and came to join the team more permanently upon graduating in the summer of 2022.








Charles Ormsby, Carpenter

Charlie is inspired by carpentry that brings the historic character of a space back into focus; bringing the efficiencies of a modern space to life within the character of its history. Charlie’s building career began with a painstaking renovation of a hand hewn log cabin. He joined COA in the fall of 2023 and looks forward to using his skills to restore the beautiful details of Brooklyns historic brownstones with us.


Joshua Rosenthal, Office Manager

Joshua has always felt the interconnectivity of our existence. Informed by this feeling,  his career has been spent trying to develop systems that are efficient and equitable. After graduating with a BFA in Visual Communication from the Brooks Institute of Photography he worked as an operations manager in some of America’s best restaurants. In late 2022 he decided to change it up and started with COA in early April of 2023.

All portraits by Donilee McGinnis

We are grateful for the contributions of previous team members:
Sam Bowstead, Graham Billings, Virginia Brown, Steve Dahlgren,  Sarah Gunawan, Henry Black, Seneca Gray, Jeremy Cohen and Yashil Mudaliar.



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Jobs + Mentorship

CO Adaptive is always looking to connect with enthusiastic individuals that are passionate about improving our built and natural environment through design and building.  We welcome job applications and internship inquiries through the form below.

 

We are an equal opportunities employer and endeavor to support minorities within the profession. We strive to maintain a flat organization where all voices are heard from design problems through office organization. At all levels, we facilitate a wide lens of exposure to building practice, while encouraging individuals to pursue their own interests within the office and in the profession at large.

CO Adaptive strives to offer a fun and creative office culture that values and rewards collaboration and innovation. We believe in working smarter, not harder, and we close our doors at 6 PM to foster enjoying life outside of the office

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Building 303, Suite 603, 63 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11205
347.586.0455
hello@coadaptive.co