Basar Girit

Earth Month

Photo credit: Basar Girit, Brooklyn SolarWorks, 2020

Basar Girit AR’05

A group of Cooper Union graduates—Basar Girit, Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny, Wes Rozen, and Bradley Samuels— founded the architecture studio SITU in 2005, a practice that from the start was rooted in material, formal, and technological research.  In 2016 Brooklyn SolarWorks, a company founded the year before to bring solar power to New York homeowners, reached out to SITU to make solar a viable alternative for buildings where skylights, hatches, and HVAC systems are frequently stored on rooftops. What’s more, the pitched roofs of many suburban houses—well positioned to capture solar energy—are largely missing in the city with rowhouses and brownstones usually topped by flat roofs. 

Girit, a 2005 graduate of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, led the initiative to find elegant solution to the problem: a set of A-frame columns support an angled truss system so that photovoltaic panels can collect and store the sun’s energy. At the same time, knowing that New Yorkers often use rooftops as communal outdoor spaces, the designers wanted to minimize the canopy’s direct contact with the roof by attaching the solar panels on a truss system 10-feet above the roofline. Residents continue to use their roof space, while the canopies function as sunshades. Their parametric design lets the canopy system be easily adjusted to each roof’s measurement, assures that they adhere to city codes, and makes fabrication more cost efficient. The canopy system earned Best Green Innovation of Interior Design’s Best of Year Awards in 2016, a global design awards program dedicated to the year’s best products and projects. 

Today, Girit leads a team of 25 engineers, builders, and craftspeople at SITU’s fabrication facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Blurring the line between engineering and design, he is driven by an interest in material experimentation, flexible assemblies and intelligent systems, which have become essential themes of SITU’s work. 

With multiple canopies built since they were first introduced, Girit and SITU have used their architectural training to make a direct impact on the environment. “We always want something unique to emerge that users can interact with in a different way, he told the Architectural League in 2014. “Our research and fabrication divisions allow us to get projects that are not architectural in the traditional sense.”  

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.