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The Architecture Lobby
The relationship between the business of architecture and the nature of architectural work is fraught. Many celebrated firms have been built on the backs of young and often unpaid labor. To call this practice an open secret would be inaccurate. It isn’t a secret at all; for some firms, it’s standard operating practice.

The Architecture Lobby, founded in 2013 by Peggy Deamer, has begun the long and laborious process of addressing these issues. Today, the group has 16 chapters and 450 dues-paying members. (Yearly dues amount to 0.2% of total income, or about $100 for a $50,000 salary.) Recently, I spoke with the Lobby’s national organizer, Dexter Walcott, about the group’s recent efforts, its campaign to unionize the field, the Green New Deal, and the future of work.

MCP: Martin C. Pedersen
DW: Dexter Walcott

MCP: What’s the Lobby working on right now?

DW: The top three initiatives are the unionization campaign, the socializing of small firms, and the Green New Deal campaign. We’re also working to expand the “Not Our Wall” campaign to focus on the detention infrastructure, beyond the physical barriers and surveillance infrastructures.

MCP: So there are both national and local Lobby initiatives?

DW: Yes. There are chapters that are working on issues that are purely local. And then some chapters blur a lot, where there will be a national campaign that has a strong presence in our regional chapters. The “Not Our Wall” campaign, for instance, had a strong presence in the California chapters. The Green New Deal is a national campaign, but the New York chapter has a very strong presence with that.

MCP: Let’s pull a few of these issues out for closer examination, starting with union recognition. What’s your goal here, and how do you see that playing out?

DW: The end goal is to form unions of architectural workers. There are a number of ways that it can play out. One type of union we organize would be a single-issue union, where we would begin to organize architectural workers around a single problem within the profession and organize workplaces to form collective bargaining units around that issue. For instance, something like the eight-hour workday would be appealing in the profession. That covers a lot of the issues with one broad stroke, whether it’s the culture of overwork or the inability of people to have time to take care of themselves or their families outside of the profession. We could organize workplaces under a contract that only has one clause in it that would say, “We’re going to work for eight hours, five days a week.” That’s something that is appealing to the Architectural Lobby at the moment. And it’s so necessary in the profession right now.

MCP: Is your goal to go through the actual process of becoming a legally recognized union?

DW: Not necessarily. We’re more interested in helping workers build collective bargaining units. At the end of the day, the Lobby isn’t so concerned about being the legal entity. We want to see the sector have unions. The unionization working group has put together an amazing pamphlet on the steps to do this.

MCP: So some chapters might, ultimately, be purely local?

DW: Yes. Right now we’re organizing ourselves and trying to understand where the organization has power, and where we can leverage that power. It starts with a belief that we need to get tight around an argument, if we’re going to start organizing other people to commit to it. We don’t want to build an organization that just brings together like-minded people. We must become good at winning contentious arguments. You can’t organize a workplace by assuming, “Oh, everyone who already thinks like me will automatically join my group.” You have to engage in discussions with people who say, “I don’t think unions are going to help our industry”; or ask questions like, “Will that cut my pay?”; or say, “My boss is really good to me right now.”

It’s also important to have conversations with people about preserving things that are good about the profession. We need to reinforce the idea that unions aren’t just for times when everything’s falling apart, but are a way to ensure that things stay great and can get better. But the Lobby’s core position is
Accredited designer Brian Tolman has joined NELSON Worldwide as Senior Vice President, Northeast Region Lead. Bringing more than 20 years of experience in workplace and hospitality interiors and building practices, Tolman will lead the multidisciplinary team to champion a new wave of design as the firm expands.

“We are delighted to welcome Brian Tolman to the NELSON team,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NELSON Worldwide, Ozzie Nelson Jr. “His exceptional work on world-class projects and propensity for effective yet inspiring leadership make him the perfect person to oversee our northeast offices.”

Passionate about the field of architecture, Tolman has always been a thinker and tinkerer—aiming to challenge preconceived notions through critical thinking and actively practicing empathy to understand how people behave in different contexts of the built environment. This approach has helped him create projects that allow people to feel connected to both each other and the space they are inhabiting.

Tolman’s devotion to design excellence, coupled with his strong leadership skills, will enable him to usher NELSON’s northeast offices—which include New York, Boston, and Philadelphia —into a new era of design and innovation. NELSON’s recent and upcoming projects in the northeast include the NoMad Tower and the New York Life Social Space and Conference Center in Midtown Manhattan, and the W/Element brand hotel opening in Philadelphia later this spring.

“I am excited to join an immensely talented team and be a part of the next evolution of the NELSON brand,” says Tolman. “In my new role, I will continue to drive innovation across all market sectors, working closely with my team to help elevate a firm that is built upon an amazing infrastructure, brimming with potential.”

Tolman earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art,

Architecture and Planning. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), accredited in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He has received numerous AIA awards for his work, including an AIA Honor Award for his work on the Bloomberg office interiors in New York and an AIA NYS Honor Award for American holding company IAC’s offices. In 2010, Tolman was named one of ENR NY’s Top 20 Under 40 young professionals.

Having employed a cross-discipline approach to his impressive portfolio of projects, Tolman will work to further promote innovation, champion change, and continue NELSON’s already rapid growth within the northeast region.
It has been a banner year for Kate Simonen and her burgeoning band of embodied carbon busters, bent on reducing the negative environmental impacts of building production. On Nov. 19, Simonen and her EC-reduction champions debuted the first free-to-use digital tool to calculate EC in materials. The same day, Marin County, Calif., approved the nation’s first low-carbon concrete building code. And after a slow start in 2017, the free-to-join Embodied Carbon Network finally gained traction.

As founding director of the decade-old Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) at the University of Washington, Simonen has been stirring all three pots. “Kate is our figurehead,” says Wil V. Srubar, a professor of engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and an ECN co-chair with Simonen and Erin McDade, senior program director of Architecture 2030. “It’s been a wild ride the last 12 months, and Kate has been a great driver,” he adds.

EC, the sum total of greenhouse gases emitted from material extraction to the jobsite, “is an entry point to acknowledge that we need to completely decarbonize” the buildings sector—not just operational carbon, says engineer-architect-researcher Simonen, also a professor in the university’s department of architecture.

Perhaps Simonen’s biggest EC-reduction coup is the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator. “EC3 is transformative,” says Ari Frankel, assistant vice president at Alexandria Real Estate Equities, one of six developers piloting EC3.

CLF incubated EC3 through a $713,000 grant from the Charles Pankow Foundation and other sponsors. Simonen is lead investigator, with teammates Phil Northcott, Change Labs CEO; Stacy Smedley, a director of sustainability for Skanska USA; and Don Davies, president of Magnusson Klemencic Associates.

While incubating EC3, Simonen also helped create Marin County’s low-carbon concrete code—spearheaded by Top 25 Newsmaker Bruce King—by leading its steering committee. She was “instrumental” in creating consensus among diverse stakeholders, says Alice Zanmiller, a planner for Marin County’s sustainability team.

In 2017, CLF created ECN to scale up the movement. A global and virtual communication platform for practitioners, educators, government officials and material producers, ECN is driving grass-roots change, including local policy initiatives.

Last year, the group grew from 600 to 1,800 members, located in 166 cities in 22 nations. Local chapters that hold in-person workshops sprang up in Seattle, the Bay Area, New York City, Boston and Vancouver, B.C. Chapter discussions are underway in Austin, Atlanta, Toronto and the Denver-Boulder area.

A native of Livermore, Calif., Simonen studied architectural engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and then received two master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley—one in structural engineering and the mechanics of materials in 1991, and the other in architecture the following year.

While in practice, Simonen learned about using fly ash to lower concrete’s cement content. Later, she tried calculating the carbon footprint of green prefab homes imported from China. Eventually, she realized she was interested in research. In 2009, she landed at the university. Soon she had mastered environmental-impact life-cycle analyses for buildings.

Funded by its 42 member firms, CLF is “informing, inspiring and enabling” buildings professionals to reduce and ultimately eliminate EC. Currently, CLF is rallying green-building groups to collaborate and reduce duplicate efforts.

Even with EC-reduction progress, Simonen doesn’t expect to see any meaningful impact on the environment for at least 10 years. Still, she soldiers on, saying, “we have to try to make a difference.”
Corey Gaffer Photography
Which interior design companies are the best to work for? AD PRO breaks down the firms with the highest Glassdoor ratings

What makes some interior design companies better to work for than others? Is it the nature of the design work, the firm’s high-profile clients, and the opportunity for upward mobility? Or is it the parental leave policy, travel opportunities, and office amenities? All of these factors and more contribute to why workers love being employed at certain interior design firms. AD PRO scoured reviews on Glassdoor, a website that asks reviewers to rate organizations from one to five stars, to find out which interior design companies stand out. Of course, a lot of the big guys made the list—the design giants we all know. But a few smaller firms, and several outside of bicoastal metropolises like New York and San Francisco ranked highly as well. AD PRO distills the results for you here, in alphabetical order.

Editor's note: All quotations are taken from Glassdoor reviews. The ratings reflect the company's Glassdoor score at the time of publication.

BSA LifeStructures
What: 4.8 stars
Where: Indianapolis, with five other U.S. offices
Why: Employees feel recognized for their worth at this 40-year old multidisciplinary architecture, engineering, interior design, and planning firm. “Team members are respectful and helpful to one another. They emphasize good design, celebrate individuals' strengths, and provide technology that allows for flexibility,” a review states. A small-firm mentality with large-firm resources, BSA offers “great opportunities for design with purpose.” Workers feel that the company “really values intentional design work for healing, learning, and discovery spaces.” BSA has a fantastic culture that promotes flexibility, community, and hard work, says one employee, who’s worked at the firm for four years and adds, “They have shown that they want me to progress individually by being supportive of continuing education and certification testing. I appreciate the flexibility that BSA provides to accomplish all my work and life goals.”

CBRE | Heery
What: 3.9 stars
Where: Atlanta, plus 22 additional offices nationwide
Why: A full-service firm offering architecture, interior design, engineering, construction management, and program management, CBRE | Heery has a diverse portfolio of projects across sectors. The company culture is family-oriented with “homegrown talent.” “Leadership grew up in the company, so they're in touch with the workforce,” a reviewer says. Employees feel taken care of: “I always felt the company had my best intentions in mind,” one says. “Management really cares about you as an individual. They give you the chance to grow.” In terms of benefits, Heery provides “great employer contributions in paid benefits and paid time off designations; [the] 401(k) match is above average in the industry.”

CBT Architects
What: 4.1 stars
Where: Boston, with an office in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Why: “It feels like a family” at this small architecture, interior design, and urban planning firm, whose leadership is known for investing in its people. “The environment allows you to grow, all team members attend meetings, and everyone's opinion matters. Within departments, there is a lot of collaboration and idea sharing, rolls are clearly defined, and there’s not too much overtime,” one staffer writes. Employees at CBT also love the caliber of the work and the opportunity to participate on projects of all stripes. And “everyone is friendly, has a positive attitude, and makes an effort to create a congenial atmosphere,” which is fostered with a casual dress code, flexible work schedule, and encouragement to take advantage of vacation time.

What: 4.1 stars
Where: Dallas, with nine additional U.S. locations, plus offices in Singapore and London
Why: Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? That’s one perk of the many that Corgan offers, including generous health benefits and parental leave (fathers and mothers are entitled to a three-month leave), a flexible work-from-home policy, a company-matching 401(k) plan, and stock options. Employees say they love that at Corgan: “Everyone helps everyone. Teamwork is evident, and the culture is something that wraps around you from your first day here. Leadership listens and appreciates you.” Plus, you get
Noah Pylvainen, Perkins and Will
Once perceived as "intimidating" by her colleagues, the principal and director of global diversity at Perkins and Will went from following the rules to defining them.

This op-ed appeared in the December 2019 issue of ARCHITECT. On Dec. 12, 2019, The American Institute of Architects announced Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, as the recipient of the 2020 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award.

Big change can come from people who never expected to become change makers—from people who frequently second-guessed themselves, who look different from everyone else, and who never jumped the line. The tortoises, not the hares.

I had always been a rule-follower who stays the course—an idealist empowered by personal ambition and my mother’s encouragement. When I decided to become an architect, I pursued design with little fear of failure. Looking back, I realize that harnessing my own naive bravery was the best thing I could have done.

My formal training in architecture began at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1979. I knew I had earned my seat there, but, deep down, I continuously felt “less than.” I didn’t anticipate that I’d be the only black woman in my classes, or that I’d have to find my tribe outside of architecture, among other students of color. Suppressing feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and invisibleness, I focused on working my ass off.

The architectural jargon was foreign and unintelligible, and I struggled to understand what the professors and critics were saying. I realize now that this was very much the egocentric, starchitect era of design education. This was their platform to shine, and they commanded it.

Recognizing that this was part of the game that would lead me to success, I worked even harder to learn their language. Once I grasped the concepts, I no longer felt inadequate. I even felt empowered to break the rules I had struggled to understand.

In 1984, I became the second black woman ever to graduate RISD’s architecture department—and with A’s no less. After 21 years in the profession, I was tapped to be managing director of my firm’s Los Angeles office. I was flattered, scared, and surprised, but with encouragement from my tribe, I became the first woman and first African American to hold that role, firmwide.

Once I grasped the concepts, I ... felt empowered to break the rules I had struggled to understand.

As a woman with a direct communication style, I learned over time from peers that some colleagues and staff perceived me as “intimidating.” Though I was the leader of my office, my requests, statements, and directives were met frequently with resistance. Self-reflection, coaching, and soul-searching occupied a good deal of my time; realizing what you can adapt while remaining true to yourself, and recognizing and addressing gender or racial bias are strategies I’ve had to develop throughout my design career.

While not dismissing the existence of unconscious biases, I chose to modify my professional style not only to keep my hard-earned seat at the table, but also to ensure my voice was heard, and, ultimately, to become the leader of the room. I mastered the rules to win the game.

In 2013, I was ready to make my next move at the firm. After completing several international projects and taking stock of my own experiences, I had cultural competency on my mind. I wanted the profession to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive. I believed that we could change what we design by changing who designs it.

With the agency I had earned, I chose to develop a firmwide diversity and inclusion program, which I now lead. All my academic and professional experiences, advancements, and challenges have brought me to this point in my career.

Calls to diversify the complexion and cultural makeup of the design profession to better mirror the society we serve have become louder and more intense, with many more voices chiming in. But we have a long way to go. To women and underrepresented groups, I say harness your inner strength, find your tribe, and then use your voice. Being the only one in the room can be your platform to shine.
Mark Jackson
Founder of his eponymous Fayetteville, Ark., firm, Blackwell will be awarded the Institute’s highest honor at the 2020 AIA National Conference on Architecture in Los Angeles.

This afternoon, The American Institute of Architects announced that Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, will receive the 2020 Gold Medal, the organization's highest honor recognizing "an individual whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture," according to an AIA press release.

Born in Germany, Blackwell received a B.Arch. from Auburn University and an M.Arch. from Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y. In 2000, Blackwell founded his eponymous, Fayetteville, Ark., firm Marlon Blackwell Architects, focusing his work in Northwest Arkansas. He is the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture and a distinguished professor in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas.

“Marlon Blackwell is a student of his ‘place’ in the world. This ethic provides a philosophical coherence to his work,” wrote Brian MacKay-Lyons in a letter supporting Blackwell’s nomination. “His is a uniquely American architecture; he builds confidently upon the American cultural landscape. His ‘cultural realist’ approach is democratic, looking to the ordinary and the everyday for inspiration. It is connected to society, rather than being aloof. This is not a nostalgic architecture, but an architecture of its time and place.”

Over the last 20 years, Blackwell's firm has been awarded 20 national and 14 international design awards including the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award. In 2017, he received the E. Fay Jones Gold Medal from AIA Arkansas. In 2018, he was inducted into the National Academy of Design in 2018 and he was selected as the William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence at the American Academy in Rome.

Blackwell's notable projects include the Harvey Pediatric Clinic in Rodgers, Ark. (2017), the St. Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church in Fayetteville, Ark. (2012), and the Steven L. Anderson Design Center and Vol Walker Hall at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. (2013).

“Every Marlon Blackwell design is a new lesson in the transformative ability of architecture to reveal the uniqueness of every site and give meaning to any program, to achieve an expressive clarity in strong and simple forms,” wrote Julie V. Snow, AIA, in a letter supporting Blackwell’s nomination. “In every way, across all measures, the work raises our expectations for our own architecture and teaches us that it is possible to exceed what appears to limit us.”

The jury for the 2020 AIA Gold Medal was chaired by Kelly Hayes-McAlonie, FAIA, director of campus planning at the University of Buffalo, New York; and comprised Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA, senior associate at Arrowstreet in Sommerville, Mass.; Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA, founder of Foster + Partners in London; Marsha Maytum, FAIA, founding principal of LMS in San Francisco; Takashi Yanai, FAIA, partner at Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects in Culver City, Calif.; Scott Shell, FAIA, principal at EHDD in San Francisco; Melissa Harlan, AIA, architect at Kiku Obata & Co. in St. Louis; and Maurice Cox former planning director for the City of Detroit.

An Rong Xu for The New York Times
In a federal complaint, a former chief of staff to Mr. Neumann said she was demoted twice after she became pregnant.

When the chief of staff to the WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann became pregnant in March 2016, she was reluctant to share the news with her boss right away.

But ultimately, the employee, Medina Bardhi, felt she had no choice. She had to explain that she could no longer accompany Mr. Neumann on business trips “due to his penchant for bringing marijuana on chartered flights and smoking it throughout the flight while in an enclosed cabin,” according to a complaint she filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York on Thursday.

What followed, the complaint said, was a pattern of discrimination, as Ms. Bardhi was repeatedly derided and marginalized by Mr. Neumann and other WeWork officials. Mr. Neumann referred to her maternity leave as a “vacation” or “retirement,” according to the complaint, and another high-level company official, Jennifer Berrent, commented, “Wow, you’re getting big,” in front of a WeWork executive.

Mr. Neumann, who had promised to champion women at WeWork, stepped down as the company’s chief executive in September as its attempted initial public offering collapsed in dramatic fashion. As part of a deal to turn over control of WeWork to its largest outside investor, SoftBank, he received $185 million to work as a consultant to the company for four years.

Over the last year, other women, including a senior executive, have filed lawsuits accusing WeWork of gender discrimination. Their complaints have added to the storm of criticism WeWork and Mr. Neumann have faced from bankers, analysts and current and former employees since the attempt to go public failed. Mr. Neumann’s leadership has come under particularly intense scrutiny: He has been criticized for maintaining a lavish lifestyle and giving outsize power to family members, including his wife, Rebekah.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Neumann declined to comment, referring questions to WeWork. In a statement, a WeWork spokeswoman, Gwen Rocco, said the company “intends to vigorously defend itself against” the complaint.

“We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” Ms. Rocco said. “We are committed to moving the company forward and building a company and culture that our employees can be proud of.”

During her five years at WeWork, Ms. Bardhi became pregnant twice and was demoted both times, the complaint said. She was fired in early October, shortly after Mr. Neumann left, according to the complaint. Company executives told her that “there was no longer a role for her after Mr. Neumann’s departure,” the complaint said.

“This assertion and supposed justification rings hollow, as Ms. Bardhi already had been pushed out of Mr. Neumann’s office,” the complaint said. “It is clear that Ms. Bardhi’s firing was motivated by the Company’s sustained discriminatory bias and retaliatory animus against her and other female employees who become pregnant, take maternity leave, and/or complain about gender-based discrimination.”

The complaint also said that WeWork had a broader culture of abuse and disrespect toward women — a work environment in which excessive alcohol consumption fueled “offensive sexual conduct” and women were routinely paid less than male colleagues with similar jobs.

Ms. Bardhi’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, said he hoped that the E.E.O.C. would view her experiences as part of a systemic problem at the company and bring class-action charges against WeWork.

The discrimination Ms. Bardhi faced began before she even started at WeWork, the complaint said. During a job interview in October 2013, Mr. Neumann “unlawfully and intrusively” asked Ms. Bardhi whether she planned to get married or become pregnant — a question that left her “stunned and uncomfortable,” according to the complaint.

When Ms. Bardhi became pregnant three years later, the complaint said, Mr. Neumann replaced her with a male employee who was paid more than twice as much.

Then, rather than restoring her to the job of chief of staff when she returned from maternity leave, the complaint said, the company gave her no clear direction on her day-to-day responsibilities.

Eventually, she got the job back, the complaint said. But when she became pregnant a second time in February 2018, the cycle repeated — a male employee was hired to replace her, and she found herself sidelined wh
Interior Design Media
With a forward-thinking vision for a university bistro, Toronto-headquartered DesignAgency was born. Two decades after serving steak tartar to students, business is booming for founders Allen Chan, Matt Davis, and Anwar Mekhayech, who can rattle off hostel brand Generator Hostels, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, and culinary brands Nando’s and Momofuku from a high-profile client list. On the books: rollouts for workspace and cultural hub NeueHouse and new Hilton urban hotel brand Motto.

“These days, a designer’s vision needs to be half the business of design and half the art of design,” says Mekhayech. “There are unlimited possibilities when creating a physical space—but process, purpose, and budget lead.” To better hone these three crucial points, DesignAgency is full-service, tackling interior design, architectural concept, strategic branding, and visual communication. Projects around the globe (in addition to offices in Los Angeles and Barcelona, DesignAgency now has full-time designers in Vancouver, London, and Washington, D.C.) are executed by a divide-and-conquer technique—the three partners collaborate on creative, before letting one partner run with it.

Interior Design sat down with the three founders to learn more about that first fateful collaboration, the upcoming NeueHouse rollout, and who is a master at balloon animals.

Interior Design: So, tell us about the student bistro that brought you together.

Anwar Mekhayech: We had no business plan and it was all very organic. I studied engineering and business at the University of Toronto (U of T) but grew up in the family restaurant business. After taking over my parents’ restaurant, I decided to open my own—which I really wanted to design. So, I asked Matt, who has a degree in Landscape Architecture from U of T, to start a design company with me, and he introduced me to Allen, who was studying architecture at Columbia University.

It was all very fast—I graduated in 1997, we formed what was then called Precipice Studios in 1998, and I opened a student bistro at U of T that we designed in 2000. My dad was living in Paris at the time, opening a restaurant there, so the concept became a kind of French-bistro-meets-California-casual-organic—but in 2000, so way before its time. We had DJs playing, and were serving students steak tartar, duck confit, and healthy salads. It was so much fun.

ID: NeueHouse is a big project for you. What exactly does it entail?

AM: We’re renovating the two existing properties and are about to open a third in downtown Los Angeles, NeueHouse Bradbury, which will help explain our design ethos and narrative as we scale the brand to new locations globally. Our design aims for residential and inspiring, balancing private and social, but with a strong emphasis on collaboration and communication. There will be a play of vintage and new pieces across all the projects—and I’m super excited about the art program and the use of plantings.

ID: How do you believe NeueHouse meets current demands in the hospitality market and stands out from the likes of big players like WeWork?

AM: Sophistication and refinement. NeueHouse is more an invited member’s club that centers around working, content, and collaboration than co-working. It has a kind of celebrity following because they started ahead of the curve, in 2012 in New York. So last year, Josh Wyatt entered as CEO, and immediately brought us onboard. We worked with Josh on Generator Hostels and have a great relationship with him. Together we’re adding the food and beverage hospitality angle—the restaurants, bars, and patios because that’s what we are good at—building off the original concept based on bringing likeminded people together by Rockwell Group. We’re also ramping up the amenities where possible, for example spa-like showers and changing rooms for people commuting by bike or spending extended amount of time on site.

NeueHouse has several different types of membership. Netflix, for example, is a tenant in Los Angeles, with their own private studio floors on the upper levels. Actually, DesignAgency’s Los Angeles studio is also in NeueHouse—we moved in just a few months ago.

ID: What have you completed recently?

AM: We developed the design language and ethos for Momofuku spaces and recently
Interior Design Media
Rana Beiruti is director of Amman Design Week, a nonprofit design fair that was founded in 2016 and is now in its third edition (it became a biennial in 2017). This year’s theme is “Possibilities” and over 200 exhibitors from 13 countries took part. The event was held in three different parts of the city, with the main show, curated by Bahraini-based architect Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop, in the “hangar,” a renovated 1930s building in Ras El Ain that used to house the electricity generators that powered the then burgeoning city; the Crafts District; and new to this year, a neighborhood of galleries called Jabal Al Lweibdeh.

Interior Design: Tell me about the theme for this edition of Amman Design Week?

Rana Beiruti: It’s “Possibilities” and it came about as a reaction to the hopelessness felt in the face of current global issues such as climate change and the political discourse, which in Jordan, for instance, comes with an attitude of ‘throw your hands up in the air.’ The theme of was a way for us to say that through design, we can dream up new possibilities for the future.

ID: Where is Amman Design Week positioned in the region and how does it differ, in your view, from other design weeks like Dubai, Beirut, etc?

RB: Dubai Design Week is an international-facing event where the world comes in, participates and showcases, while Beirut Design Week has always had a link with Europe, particularly France, and has a bit of a European feel. In Jordan, we’re sort of in the middle. We’re not an oil-rich country, we don’t have many natural resources from which to build a strong manufacturing sector, so designers here are innovating within limited means, with locally made and locally found materials.

ID: How about some examples?

RB: The design studio Twelve Degrees made a bench out of crushed palm leaves as a possible alternative to wood, while Omar Sartawi created an edible replica of Ein Ghazal, one of the oldest sculptures in the world that was found in Jordan (and is currently in the Louvre Abu Dhabi). In this instance it has been made out of jameed, a dried yogurt that is part of our national dish of lamb, mansaf. We also have designers making magical things happen out of something as simple as gravel or sand. Instead of being about fancy tables and finishes or crystal chandeliers, “Possibilities” is about research and about a rawer understanding of design, of materials. It’s about how we live, what our architecture looks like, and how we use the earth and the landscape to produce the things we consume.

ID: Is this trend of looking within, to your own context and geography, something recent? Or has it always been fostered by Amman Design Week?

RB: It’s been intentionally part of our essence from the beginning because it would be difficult for us to do a design week that is alien to the existing context. The pieces produced respond to local needs, use local materials, and promote the work of local initiatives. This kind of support is important in the face of a context where import taxes and government regulations limit the capabilities of designers to prototype here, and to work with different materials. One of our designers wanted to import silicone and it took them six months just to get it through customs. Under the theme of “Possibilities” people looked to the materials we do have, like stone, and natural fibers.

ID: On a related note, is there any industry or manufacturing in Jordan? And is the situation changing?

RB: Manufacturing is one of the weaker industries in Jordan. Jordan is a very young country and there was a strange shift where we went from a nomadic and sparsely-populated society to one with Wi-Fi and iPhones—there was no industrialization period in between. The barriers to importing and finding the tools and resources you need to manufacture locally are big, as I mentioned, so people end up manufacturing abroad and importing the finished products. It’s made us a very consumer-oriented instead of a producing society. I think now we are seeing that designers are working in a more hands-on way as a result, and starting to become makers themselves to resolve this situation.

ID: What was new compared to the last edition?

RB: This year we created an entirely new exhibition entitled ‘Future Food/Future City,’ which reclai
KTGY Architecture + Planning
With a rapidly aging population, an inward flux of new urban residents, and developmental pressures forcing displacement and homelessness on growing numbers of people, housing design finds itself at a critical nexus in the United States.

And while many architecture firms are surely working on innovative housing projects, few have dedicated teams focused on pursuing housing innovation from an integrated, transformational perspective. KTGY Architecture + Planning is one such firm, however. The R+D Studio at KTGY exists to "explore new and emerging ideas related to building design and technology," with an eye toward integrating new housing developments into their surroundings, re-thinking existing design paradigms, and prototyping cost- and time-saving construction approaches all the while expanding the realm of housing design to include co-living arrangements, contemporary senior housing models, and supportive housing.

We talked with Marissa Kasdan, director of KTGY's R+D Studio, to discuss how well-designed housing can serve more people, the changing nature of domestic spaces, and to highlight innovations coming out of her team's work.

What is the focus of KTGY’s R+D Studio? And of your position?

KTGY’s R+D Studio was created as a dedicated effort focused on furthering KTGY’s vision, “to move the discourse of architecture forward by continuously searching for better.” With that goal in mind, the R+D Studio explores new and emerging ideas related to building design, shifts in residential demographics, and trends in the way people live. My role, as director of the R+D Studio, is to maintain the focus of the studio in a way that also supports the design efforts of the various studios within KTGY. I coordinate with studio leaders from KTGY offices across the country and look for opportunities to develop design concepts that support the building types and market segments we serve.

The R+D Studio seems to pursue an integrated approach that considers design, urban-scale considerations, and constructability issues simultaneously. Can you share an example of a project (or an approach/idea) that has most benefited from this arrangement?

The Skytowns concept considers how townhome unit plans in a high-rise configuration could maximize building efficiency while minimizing elevator stops and shared circulation space, all while providing multi-level unit layouts in an urban setting. On every other level, the townhome units recapture the corridor area as unit area, increasing the overall building efficiency to nearly 90%. The inherent nature of the multi-story units creates a unique opportunity for vertical variation along the high-rise façade.

One of your research focuses revolves around expanding the definition of co-living. How is the research coming out of the R+D Studio informing the design of unit plans for this type of housing?

Initially, we developed a co-housing concept to address urban affordability for young professionals trying to manage their rents, leading to the development of an 11-bedroom, 11-bathroom prototype unit. Since then, we have discussed with many of our clients and other interested individuals the opportunity to apply the benefits of shared living in new ways to help address a variety of issues and serve a wide range of demographics.
Sylvie Rosokoff / Sylvie the Camera
The founder of Madame Architect speaks with RECORD about the value of mentorship.

Julia Gamolina, who works in business development for FXCollaborative, founded the website Madame Architect in May 2018, after having published interviews with women in the profession on SubteXXt, the digital journal of gender-equity organization ArchiteXX, beginning in 2015. Since then, she has interviewed some 150 women in the profession, with more than 50,000 unique visitors to the site. The 28-year-old graduate of Cornell’s architecture program spoke with RECORD about her goals for Madame Architect and the value of mentorship in work and life.

You were born in Russia, immigrated to Canada at age 8, then moved to the U.S. when you were 14. How has mentorship—and specifically working with and looking up to other women—played a role in your life and career?

It’s been huge. When we immigrated, my mom told me, “I will offer you the guidance that I can, but I’m also new here—there are some things that I won’t know.” So as a young kid, then throughout high school and college, I felt very comfortable asking my teachers for advice. I’ve always had different mother figures in my life, and advisors in my professional world, and I think immigration is really what triggered it.

So was Madame Architect a natural extension of seeking out guidance?

Yes. I found that, after graduation, that built-in system of mentorship no longer exists. I started to look for my own advisors. Writing about them wasn’t originally part of the plan at all, but once I found women who were so generous and energizing to me, I thought, I have to share this. I pitched ArchiteXX, and it published my first Q&A, with Vivian Lee, a principal at Richard Meier & Partners.

How do you identify your interviewees?

One of the biggest goals of Madame Architect is variety—the full gamut of age, focus, background, location, everything—but it started with women who had leadership roles at firms, purely for guidance on how to get there. After the first few, I thought, I’m talking to women at the peaks of their careers; what is it like to speak to someone in the trenches?

What common themes have emerged?

People talk about being open and nimble, and saying yes when unexpected opportunities arise. While I was working on my thesis and about to start looking for jobs, I watched all these commencement speeches by people like Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey, who send the message to find what you want to do and just do it. I had started my career with that mentality, and it was extremely frustrating, because things took longer or didn’t work out as I expected. I thought I was doing something wrong. But having interviewed more than a hundred women now, no one has ever said, “Set your eyes on the prize and go for it.” And, in fact, everyone has said, “Be open, you don’t know what’s coming, but surprises are good, and you’ll learn a lot by trying different things.”

What has surprised you?

Almost every single woman I have talked to who has her own firm founded it when she had her first baby. That’s really mind-blowing to me. Seeing who my followers are has also been surprising. A lot are younger women and new mothers, but I also have men writing to me all the time. I didn’t think I would hear from men at all when I started, and while it’s still more women, it’s more balanced than I expected.

What misconceptions do you think people have about women working in architecture?

So many women are so tired of being asked what it’s like to be a woman in the field. They deal with the same challenges that come with different stages of life, for everyone, in every field. They no longer want to be thought of as “women architects”—they just want to be thought of as architects. That has probably been the most consistent feedback from the interviews.

You publish a lot of content—around 10 stories each month. Do you see this becoming a fulltime job?

I actually really like having my feet in practice. I don’t design at the moment, but I like being on the ground in the collaborative environment of a firm. So for now, at least, it’s good for me to do both. But monetizing something like this, having a business plan and all that—oh my God [laughs] . . . Not my skill set.
Debra Hurford-Brown
For many architecture and design schools across the United States, 2019 marks a shift in institutional leadership. From Charlotte to Berkeley, new deans will assume the helms of some of the country’s most challenging—and exciting—programs. The deans will have the opportunity to shape design pedagogy and practice in significant ways, potentially guiding how academic institutions teach and address issues related to the built environment for years to come. But in an era of collaborative learning and community engagement, what does deanship look like? AN asked eight of the country’s new deans about their plans for the future of their schools and their discipline. Here’s what they have to say:

Respondents’ answers have been edited and condensed in some cases.

Vishaan Chakrabarti
University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design

A former principal at SHoP Architects, Vishaan Chakrabarti is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and the founder of the New York-based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your vision for the school moving forward?

Given the spatial nature of our three existential challenges—climate change, social inequity, and technological dislocation—I believe that schools of architecture are as relevant today as law schools were during the civil and equal rights era. I am keenly interested in exploring with students, staff, and faculty the questions of how to reconcile the demands of professional practice—which takes decades to do well—with the understandable impatience of many students to radically and immediately change our world in light of the environmental, intersectional, economic, and political crises in which they have come of age.

How is your new school different from your previous institution, Columbia University?

Because [Berkeley] is public, it serves disproportionately large numbers of first-generation college students, Pell Grant recipients, and other diverse groups relative to most private institutions. More broadly, Berkeley is part of the Pacific Rim and therefore exists at a healthy distance from the Eurocentric framework that still dominates many design schools.

Harriet Harriss
Pratt Institute School of Architecture

Before assuming her role at Pratt, Harriet Harriss was the head of the postgraduate program in architecture and interior design at the Royal College of Art in London, where she explored new models of design education addressing gender imbalances that exist at many institutions.

What is your vision for the school moving forward?

The tradition of parachuting in architectural visionaries ready to superimpose their agenda and aesthetics upon an unsuspecting faculty—with little regard for the established expertise within a school of architecture— is no longer viable. The vision I have is the one I intend to co-design with the talented and dedicated educators, students, and administrators at Pratt Institute School of Architecture… What’s needed is a dean who is willing to facilitate, enable, and empower, who is committed to ensuring talented students’ and educators’ work gets the recognition and exposure it deserves, and one who will work toward ensuring the work is realized across an expanded field of professional practices and public contexts.

Who would you consider a role model dean and why?

Architecture’s habit of focusing upon an individual’s contribution over that of a collective does not reflect the reality of architectural practice or education. Instead, we need to recognize the achievements of collectives in shaping the most successful spatial outcomes and increase our capacity for collaboration in order to respond effectively to challenges ahead.

What would you make your school’s mascot?

Do we need mascots? Or actions that lead to meaningful impact?

Branko Kolarevic
New Jersey Institute of Technology Hillier College of Architecture and Design

Previously a professor and administrator at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape at the University of Calgary, Branko Kolarevic is a designer and educator with experience at multiple universities across North America and Asia.

How i
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Informa Connect announced that Former President Barack Obama will speak at the Wednesday keynote of the 2019 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. This year’s conference will take place Nov. 19-22 in Atlanta, Ga. at the LEED Gold Georgia World Congress Center. Registration is now open.

“USGBC is deeply honored that President Obama has accepted our invitation to speak at Greenbuild 2019,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO, USGBC. “President Obama is a global leader and a longtime friend of the green building community. While in office, his administration negotiated the landmark Paris Climate Accords, expanded the impact of our field and helped open the door for energy efficiency investments in both the public and private sectors. I know that when he joins us on the keynote stage in November, he will impart his ideas, passion and vision to our growing global green building family.”

Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States. He took office at a moment of crisis unlike any America had seen in decades – a nation at war, a planet in peril, the American Dream itself threatened by the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. And yet, despite all manner of political obstruction, Obama’s leadership helped rescue the economy, revitalize the American auto industry, reform the health care system to cover another 20 million Americans, and put the country on a firm course to a clean energy future – all while overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history.

“As the green building movement evolves and continues to permeate our everyday lives, President Obama is a valuable leader to bring that vision to life,” said Andrew Mullins, CEO, Informa Connect. “His commitment to unite humanity in combating a changing climate is a great example to follow. At the 2019 event, our attendees, exhibitors, and all participants of Greenbuild will be celebrating the notion that every human, regardless of circumstances, deserves to live a long and healthy life. There is no better voice or embodiment of that than President Obama.”

Previous Greenbuild keynote speakers have included Ret. Gen. Colin Powell, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, famed architect Bjarke Ingles, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, human rights activist Amal Clooney, former Vice President and climate activist Al Gore, and many others.

Greenbuild, the largest green building conference and expo in the world, is produced by Informa Connect and presented by USGBC. Greenbuild 2019 features four days of networking, educational sessions, green building tours, keynote events, and a robust expo floor.

For more information and to register for Greenbuild, visit greenbuildexpo.org, follow @Greenbuild on Twitter, and use hashtag #Greenbuild19 to join the conversation.
Interior Design Media
Playful graphics in bold colors cross disciplines to become striking art and custom furniture pieces by Emily Alston. “I really like the idea of functional art—which is basically furniture,” laughs the British designer, who draws from a background in graphic design and illustration. With the unforgettable moniker of Emily Forgot, also the name of her design studio, she has collected a diverse roster of clients since graduating from the Liverpool School of Art & Design in 2004. Notable among them: prestigious London cultural institutions the Victoria & Albert Museum and Somerset House, hotel chains Mondrian Suites and CitizenM, retailer Selfridges, and furniture manufacturer Herman Miller.

This fall, at The Interior Design Show (IDS) in Vancouver, running September 26-29, Forgot will debut “A Sense of Place,” an installation based on the shapes and architecture of Canadian Modernism. In parallel, 13 of her pieces will be for sale with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting education program Out in Schools. Interior Design sat down with Forgot to learn more about her boldly colored wooden relief pieces, the favorite pastime she indulges all around the world, and why little has changed in some areas of her life since the age of six.

Interior Design: We understand you recently wrapped up a residency program.

Emily Forgot: That’s right, with de Bijenkorf, a department store chain in the Netherlands. I created a series of furniture and domestic objects inspired by the de Bijenkorf stores and the Bauhaus movement—so a table, chair, rug based on a Marcel Breuer staircase, and a set of three mobiles. The program, called Room on the Roof, is organized to coincide with the centennial of the Bauhaus movement and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Eindhoven de Bijenkorf store, designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti. The pieces will be used in window displays.

ID: Can you share a little more about the IDS installation and what else is upcoming for you?

EF: For IDS, I'm making some colorful wooden relief pieces for “A Sense of Place,” an installation and entrance hall feature. Similar to others I have made, these reliefs will be based on architectural or interior spaces that I quite like, with relevancy to location. Therefore, I've been researching a lot of Canadian architects and architecture and visiting some Vancouver-based spaces. I then reinterpret and abstract them for the relief pieces.

I am also working on a maze for the hotel chain CitizenM that will be open to the public during the London Design Festival, also in September, and a series of assemblage pieces and prints which will be exclusively for the Victoria & Albert Museum shop.

ID: What gets your creative mind energized?

EF: Travel is really important. As an example, this past February I did a project for Stay One Degree, a vetted-member-only holiday home rental website. They sent me out to the Canary Islands in Spain, to Tenerife, to be inspired by one of the villas they have there and then also by Tenerife itself. For them, I also created a unique series of colorful wooden pieces. A film was made to document the trip and the making of the pieces It was a really nice project and made me think a little bit differently about my work, which always has inspiration coming from a sense of place. Travel doesn’t have to be about getting on a plane and going somewhere, it's also about going to the library and picking up some old archive magazines.

ID: How do you believe the British design culture helps enable your vision?

EF: With social media and the internet being so much a part of our creative lives, things feel a lot broader. You can uncover an amazing restaurant in Australia or a new kind of furniture brand in New York. I gain inspiration from all around the world and don't think my work necessarily has a particularly British feel. But then again, I do really like a lot of British design; it's quite playful and there is a little bit of humor.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

EF: I've recently moved with my partner into a 1960s home with quite a lot of original features. It’s near the sea, about an hour outside London, and is a huge ongoing project. My partner, Von, is an illustrator and artist as well, and we have a studio in the house that we share. Although some people just think that’s crazy, it
Jessica Savidge
They are impatient entrepreneurs and ambitious company problem-solvers, but also generous mentors, deep-thinking visionaries and committed social activists—with the right mix of talent, experience, foresight, drive and empathy to tackle construction’s persistent challenges and help lead it into a new era of technology transformation and business boom.

The individuals selected by a panel of industry judges as ENR’s National Top 20 Under 40 for 2019 have enough industry experience to know what works and what doesn’t—and the idealism and energy to create change and make it stick.Some are changemakers by being pioneers in complex new roles with uncertain reward. Myesha McClendon was the first black female engineering manager at Milhouse Engineering & Construction, then launched its aviation practice, which has now completed more than 30 projects at Chicago’s three airports.

Starting as an intern at St. Louis contractor S.M. Wilson, Mark Cochran became its first chief operating officer—increasing profit by $5 million since 2016 and becoming a regionwide labor collective bargaining negotiator.

Some have also worked to insure a future pipeline, inspiring others on the job or through outside pro bono efforts. Parsons’ California manager Robert Davis mentors San Francisco teens in a summer program showcasing the city's environmental infrastructure and its career possibilities.

Thornton Tomasetti exec John Barry has designed off-Broadway building sets, including a rain-making pump system for one production.

Susan Stabler used her role as a Brasfield & Gorrie vice president to create and then lead for five years its women’s networking group and other new diversity vehicles for the Alabama-based contractor.

In recognizing the Top 20, ENR this year also tasked them to become a think tank, offering ideas in four critical industry challenge areas: workforce growth and diversity, project delivery and productivity, sustainability and resilience, and infrastructure investment advocacy.

Click on the stories below to learn more about what the Top 20 think about the future.
W Dubai-The Palm
“Textiles and color have formed the basis of our work since the very beginning.” So states Paola Lenti of her namesake company, which she founded in 1994 in Meda, Italy, and today produces fabrics, rugs, architectural structures, and furniture for indoor and outdoor use, employing a staff of 100.

Born in Piedmont in 1958, Lenti studied graphic design at the Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan, and then went on to work as an art director for various fashion companies, where she would create displays and environments, designing rugs and such herself. Eventually, she went out on her own, making small glass and porcelain objects but switching to felt rugs, which she says represented the true start of her self-named brand.

Materials research and sustainability have been guiding forces since day one. In 1997, she began working with designer Francesco Rota, a collaboration that has produced some 70 collections and is still going strong. It was 2000 when they turned their focus to outdoor, aiming to create furnishings that are as attractive and comfortable as those for interiors. That same year was when her younger sister Anna came on as managing director, overseeing administrative and marketing aspects. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the company they’ve forged is synonymous with innovation but also with the handmade, global but also local (except for a few items, Paola Lenti products are all made in Italy). Here, Lenti the older expounds on inspirations, recent projects, and upcoming endeavors.

Interior Design: What inspires you?

Paola Lenti: Nature, for its simplicity, clarity, and unexpected texture and color combinations. I remember, as a child, my entrepreneur father would take me along when he went to the countryside to paint and teach me to appreciate all the surrounding beauty. My passion for color was born with me. Another childhood memory is receiving a book of colored collage paper and cutting up and combining the dark orange and dark turquoise pieces. Each time I start selecting colors for a collection, I recall cutting those pieces.

ID: How does color play through your col­lec­tions?

PL: We focus on it not only for individual fibers but also in the fabrics we weave from those fibers, and for the collections and the ways they work together. Even our solid fabrics often have more than one color of thread woven in.

ID: What are other constants?

PL: Research and development, finding increasingly better materials in terms of both ecological sustainability and durability. We have propriety materials that do both, such as Rope and Twiggy.

ID: Which designers have you collaborated with?

PL: At first, it was only Francesco. But now we work with a handful, such as Francesco Bettoni, Victor Carrasco, Claesson Koivisto Rune, Vincent Van Duysen, Marella Ferrera, Marco Merendi, Nicolò Morales, and Lina Obregón. I prefer to concentrate on just a few people for a closer collaboration. Marella and Nicolò had pieces debut at this year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.

ID: How long have you participated in that?

PL: From 1995 to 2002, we were at Salone. From 2003 on, we’ve been part of the Fuorisalone off-site. This year, we returned to Fabbrica Orobia, where, with Bestetti Associati, we created a series of modern environments to contrast with the enormous 1920s warehouse using partitions made from materials such as glass, ceramics, lava stone, and fabric pieces, all of which are now part of the collection. We also had indoor and outdoor furniture introductions this year by Bettoni, Van Duysen, Obregón, and Rota.

ID: Any projects abroad?

PL: Yes, Torno Subito at the W Dubai-The Palm hotel. The chef is Massimo Bottura of the famous Osteria Francescana in Modena. The mood there is completely different, more formal and serious, whereas the Dubai restaurant is playful and colorful, recalling the joyful Italian Riviera of the 1960s.
The Design Institute of Australia (DIA) has announced the winners of the highly coveted 2019 Dulux DIAlogue on Tour scholarships – a design tour run in collaboration with the Dulux. First awarded in 2016, the program is now in its fourth year.

The five winning design professionals have secured spots on a tour taking in Singapore and Portugal in October, where they will meet and learn from local design talent, engage in open dialogue, and share ideas and viewpoints with their hosts while showcasing the talent present in Australia.

The jury tasked with choosing the winners was convened by 2017 Dulux DIAlogue on Tour winner Ben Edwards (Studio Edwards) and included Romina Basto (Dulux), Gavin Campbell (DIA president-elect), Maria Correia (Gray Puksand) (QLD) and Sarah-Jane Pyke (Arent and Pyke, 2018 Dulux DIAlogue on Tour winner).

“The judges’ decision was unanimous,” said Edwards. “The final selection offers a diverse and inspiring group to act as design ambassadors for Australian design.”

2019 Dulux DIAlogue on Tour winners

Christopher Furminger – James Russell Architect

Furminger is a designer of residential projects at James Russell Architect and a sessional lecturer at the University of Queensland. He applies a “two speed” approach to design: combining a top-down precedent and academic analysis with a bottom-up exploration through making and material.

Yasmin Ghoniem – Amber Road

Ghoniem’s projects are inspired by a “nomadic childhood” spent in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Since founding her Sydney-based design collective Amber Road with her sister, landscape architect Katy Svalbe, in 2013, Ghoniem has won or been shortlisted for over 38 acoolades.

Pascale Gomes-McNabb – Pascale Gomes-McNabb Design

An ex-restauranteur, McNabb has created some of Australia’s most critically-acclaimed hospitality interious with her eponymous practice. Among these are Cumulus Inc., Cutler and Co, Penfolds’ Magill Estate Restaurant and Stokehouse. McNabb’s design practice also sprawls across a number of mediums, including furniture, jewellery, lighting and object design.

Jen Lowe – Ohlo Studio

Lowe is the founding director of Ohlo Studio, an interdisciplinary design studio that works across and between interior, product and identity design. Lowe produces “compelling and highly resolved commercial and residential projects” that respond to and are stimulated by the needs of clients.

Fiona Lynch – Fiona Lynch

A designer, artist and creative director, Lynch brings a sensitive and materially-driven approach to interior design. With over 20 years’ industry experience, she leads a multi-disciplinary team across studios in Melbourne and Sydney, and her work has expanded over time to the curation of work by Australian and international artists at the Work Shop gallery space.
Interior Design Media
During Salone del Mobile 2017, a flurry of Instagram posts propelled designer Marc Ange’s sheltered daybed, Le Refuge, boldly rendered in pink, to fame. Springing from a wood base, his fabricated palm trees sheltered an inviting retreat with their deftly layered leaves. “My universe is made up of Los Angeles's influence on my European cultural structure,” says Ange who praises Italy—the land of his birth—for “its lyricism, majesty, pride, and decadence” and France—the country where he was raised—for “its perfectionism, depth, and melancholy.” He now lives in L.A., where, he says, his visual imagination is inspired by the light and contrasts.

In 2008, with the decision to expand from the luxury car design arena, Ange founded studio Bloom Room, which now has outposts in Los Angeles and Paris; a client list that includes the likes of Louis Vuitton, Nina Ricci, Ferrari, Prada, and Zadig & Voltaire; and projects including private homes and Dar Simons, a restaurant opening in September in Marrakech. Most recently, during Salone del Mobile 2019 in Palazzo Cusani, a historic 17th-century palace in Milan, Ange presented new furnishings in the exhibition “An Extraordinary World.” Interior Design sat down with the designer to learn more about his new pieces, how inspiration can come from a childhood fear of spiders, and where to find a spa retreat within a ghost town lost in the mountains.

Interior Design: Can you tell us a little about the new pieces you presented in “An Extraordinary World,” your exhibition in Milan this past April?

Marc Ange: Following my creative instincts, this collection naturally took the direction of a fantastic universe, bathed in memories of childhood, repressed fears, or forgotten dreams. I presented a new version of Le Refuge—the very first piece of my collection, which I launched in 2017. This piece—a sheltered bed called Le Refuge de la Nuit—is the expression of the memory of an emotion that I felt in my childhood when I imagined that a forest was growing in my room to protect me from the real world. I chose super foamy white fabric from the new collection of Dedar, which I love because it’s like a cloud. For the base I chose terrazzo tile because it’s something that is very old, with history, something Italian. The Les Araignées upholstered seating collection of armchairs and now a sofa probably represents my buried fear of spiders, which was among the things that a refuge could protect me from.

Lampes Refuge is a floor lamp in aluminum—that’s very light and easy to use—with a marble base. For the marble, I chose a lot of different colors—yellow, some pinks, some greens, some grays, some brown. I went to these different caves north of Tuscany to choose the stone.

ID: What else have you recently completed recently?

MA: We have just finished three bottles of perfumes, for three big luxury brands, each very different from the others. This type of project is very interesting because these small glass objects must represent a complete universe. Every detail of these bottles tells a story—precise, chiseled—which must touch a certain part of the collective unconscious, and stage the brand without betraying its context and its history. These are difficult and exciting exercises.

ID: What’s upcoming for you?

MA: For an Italian luxury brand, I am preparing a residential furniture collection with a very strong identity, which will launch during Design Miami in December. It will be a kind of romantic and modernist bestiary, carved in exceptional and precious materials. In addition, at Salone del Mobile 2020, I will present a new residential furniture collection, which will be a summation of all I have done so far.

ID: How do you believe your unique background in automobiles and fashion helps enable your vision?

MA: Having a varied background allowed me to understand the mysteries of creation. Indeed, the creative process, before the physical development, is the same—be it a car, a luxury product, a piece of furniture, or an interior. I also think that specialization ends up creating habits that cause creative paralysis. Touching different universes allows you to constantly recharge your batteries.
Rachel Jones
This tech-savvy and entrepreneurial cohort has the power to change the workplace.

As we eye the opportunities and upheaval posed by rapidly evolving technology and societal shifts, it may be today’s young people (known by demographers as Generation Z) that are poised to make the most significant disruptions. Architecture firms could prove to be in a prime position to attract today’s youth, since the profession offers ample opportunity for unique expression while also advocating for the creation of a better world through concrete actions and increasing technology use.

Gen Z, with their technical savvy and tendency toward collaboration and individual expression, may be the best fit yet for the profession. However, there is a lot to be considered to attract, retain, and harness those traits.

To date, there has been notable study on the ways that millennials (born 1981–1996) have changed the workforce, and office culture in particular. For example, millennial influence can be seen in the emergence and growth of flexible and collaborative work environments, telecommuting, and workplace benefits aimed at better work-life balance (i.e., things like paternity leave and flexible work hours). In some ways, the collaborative nature of architectural practice has made architecture firms better prepared for millennial influence in terms of workplace engagement. However, like many other professions, architecture firms are still working to create a culture that embraces the benefits demanded by the large cohort of millennials.

But as large a cohort as millennials have been, the oldest of the generation are nearing 40. As we envision the practice of the future, it is now to the subsequent generation—Gen Z— that we must look. The Pew Research Center defines Generation Z as those born from 1997 to 2012—spanning today’s elementary school and college students, the oldest of whom are just starting to enter the workplace. This is the largest generation to date (estimated in the U.S. at 86 million, as compared to the 72 million millennials). This cohort already holds tremendous purchasing power, something unheard of in prior generations. Current estimates value their current consumer spending influence at $40 billion.

Profile of a Generation

Gen Z is a cohort with glimmers of the past. Socially, its members are in sync with their millennial predecessors. According to 2018 surveys by the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Gen Zers believe increasing amounts of racial and ethnic diversity are good for society, equivalent to the 61 percent reported by millennials, and significantly higher than reported by earlier generations. They also share millennial views that the government should do more to solve problems, that the Earth is getting warmer due to human activity, and that same-sex marriage benefits our society.

In approach, it mirrors Generation X (born 1965–1980), the one that makes up the largest proportion of Gen Z’s parents. They are similar in their pragmatism and work ethic. According to the University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future survey, high school seniors in 2017 were more willing to work overtime than their millennial peers, at levels that are on par with Americans in Generation X.

In circumstance, it also shares much in common with the Silent Generation, those born from 1928 to 1945, who emerged after World War II and the Great Depression during a time of economic disaster and recovery. Likewise, Gen Z came of age during a time of economic and social turmoil, following the Great Recession and 9/11. Their society is one plagued by global conflicts and wars, climate disruption, and school safety threats. It has led to a cautious generation, but one born at a time of opportunity.

Along with these commonalities, Gen Z has an identity of its own, bringing new energy and skills, as well as new challenges, to the workplace. Having never known a world without mobile devices, it is a group used to having information available all the time, and as a result they are both highly sophisticated online but also wary of the content they find there. They are constantly connected, but less so in person. They are realistic, yet still hopeful of a better future. They are economically cautious, yet highly entrepreneurial. And they are risk-averse—an attitude borne from a deep trust of adults coupled with economic insecurity.

Implications on Workplace Benefits

Given some of the unique demograph
Gabriela Marks
Fostering a more inclusive profession is everyone's job.

As the 2019 President of The American Institute of Architects, I have had the honor to learn from and listen to colleagues from across the nation and around the world. Those interactions have reinforced what I always knew: Our similarities, as people and as professionals, far outweigh our differences.

We don’t all speak the same language, come from the same family background, or share the same cultural heritage, but we do share a commitment to advancing our communities and our societies through the power of design.

Today, architects are finding ways, both small and large, to improve the profession’s environmental stewardship of the built world. In the years ahead, we must commit to leaning into this effort. I am proud of the clear direction of the board, Strategic Council, and members to seize the leadership moment presented by climate change, and I look forward to sharing the first steps in AIA’s years-long effort to lead on this issue.

However, leadership in the 21st century takes more than noble ideals and a clear vision. Today it requires the inclusion, innovation, ingenuity, and leadership of everyone.

As a profession, we are becoming more diverse, but it’s taking place slowly—especially in comparison to the society we serve.

For example, 46 percent of students enrolled in schools of architecture are women, up from 25 percent in 1985. In 2016, women accounted for 36 percent of newly licensed architects. That’s substantial progress, but we have a considerable way to go. After all, women make up 51 percent of the total population and 56 percent of all college students.

On the issue of race, progress has been harder to achieve, especially concerning African Americans and Hispanics. Currently, about 13 percent of college students identify as African American and a little more than 18 percent identify as Hispanic. In contrast, African Americans account for roughly 5 percent of architecture students.

Further along the career pipeline, roughly 19 percent of new architects identify as nonwhite. These statistics stand in sharp distinction to prevailing national demographic trends. For example, 39 percent of millennials self-identify with a race or ethnicity other than white, about double the share of the baby boomer generation at the same age. And according to census data, 48 percent of Gen Z (post-millennials) identify as nonwhite.

To help facilitate and advance the critical conversations needed to expand the pipeline of women and minorities into architecture and to retain them throughout their careers, AIA’s Guides for Equitable Practice, created in partnership with the University of Minnesota and AIA’s Equity and Future of Architecture Committee, continue to facilitate necessary discussions about fostering a more inclusive profession.

I am convinced that as we expand the definition of who is an architect, we will extend what architecture can accomplish. As firms and schools conduct critical conversations to better understand and eliminate the barriers and biases that challenge underrepresented groups in the profession, we will dramatically improve, impress, and ultimately inspire the society we serve through diverse design thinking.

To lead, we must be more diverse—as diverse as the population we serve. All of us have a critical role in ensuring that the talent and perspective of everyone, without regard to race, age, socio-economic background, or gender, is included in our effort to create a more equitable, compassionate, and environmentally responsible built world— and, by extension, society.
Interior Design Media
A holistic approach to nature and wellness drives Matteo Thun’s built projects. The award-winning Italian architect and Interior Design Hall of Fame member co-founded the iconic Italian design and architecture collective the Memphis Group with Ettore Sottsass in 1981, before striking out on his own, forming Matteo Thun & Partners in 2001. Thun’s happiest designing something new, he admits, and his firm’s creative eye, honed out of a headquarters in Milan and an office in Shanghai, is behind a long list of high-profile hospitality and healthcare projects spanning the globe.

Most recently, summer saw the reassembly of Thun’s temporary beach structure, Cala Beach Club on the breathtaking Emerald Coast of the Italian island of Sardinia. Situated at Hotel Cala di Volpe in Costa Smeralda, a playground for the rich and, at times, famous—many of them yachting enthusiasts—Cala Beach Club is an environmentally sensitive structure only accessible by foot or boat. In summer it hums with private parties, with clientele seduced by the stunning natural landscape. Interior Design sat down with Thun to hear more about the Cala Beach Club, what toy kicked off his imagination at a young age, and which project reachable solely by cable car he considers a career turning point.

Interior Design: What was your overall design goal for Cala Beach Club?

Matteo Thun: Cala di Volpe is a beautiful beach in Sardinia. We wanted to create a shady oasis just between the woods and the sea. Restaurant, bar, and treatment rooms have been designed to melt within the landscape, to respect the charm of this special place.

ID: What was particularly challenging about this project?

MT: This property is reachable only by boat or on a path through nature. Since it serves only for the season, we designed a removable structure that is easily to assemble and dismantle.

ID: What materials did you use and why?

MT: The structure unites with the beach vegetation, terraces value the inclination of the land, and views are open to the sea. We only used natural materials that integrate with the surroundings, such as chestnut wood and bamboo. All colors are natural and warm.

ID: What else have you completed recently?

MT: We like to bring nature inside and believe in concepts that emphasize an overall healthy lifestyle as a main approach. Healthy architecture and interior design guarantees physical and mental well being, allowing a relationship between humans and the environment. In Obbürgen, Switzerland, the Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort, which opened at the end of last year, is a space for wellness and medical services. It’s made from local stone and wood, and nature will take over in a few years so that the building will melt with the mountain. As with most of our projects, we also designed the entire interior.

Another recent project is the new headquarters for Davines, an Italian beauty company dedicated to sustainability and based in Parma, Italy. Here, we grouped traditional rural shapes and innovative volumes around a greenhouse that serves as a restaurant for the employees. Maximum architectural transparency with a minimum amount of masonry elements provides every working station with a view of the green areas.
Architect Magazine
Known for his contributions to the Radical design movement, di Francia passed away on July 30.

Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, a Florentine architect known for founding the Radical design movement collective, Superstudio, died on Tuesday. Di Francia was 78 years old.

Di Francia studied architecture at the University of Florence, founding Superstudio with his friend and classmate Adolfo Natalini in 1966, two years before he graduated in 1968. The group—eventually also led by G. Piero Frassinelli, Alessandro and Roberto Magris, and Alessandro Poli—garnered initial attention for its 1996 "Superarchitettura" exhibition. Through this and other work, di Francia and his collaborators resisted the rational practicality of Modernist architecture, creating elaborate sketches for conceptual projects that pushed the boundaries of conventional design. This “anti-architecture” and philosophical approach sparked discussions in the architecture community about theoretical approaches to design and remains a cornerstone movement in the history of architecture. During the collective’s 12-year history, its proposals were published in Domus and Architectural Design magazines and exhibited in venues such as the Venice Biennale (1978, 1996, 2014), the Museum of Modern Art (1972, 2002), and at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (1976).

When Superstudio dissolved in 1978, di Francia continued his work independently, first with Italian architect Andrea Noferi in 1994 and then in 1999 with Italian architect Lorena Luccioni, who later became de Francia's wife. Di Francia completed several projects after the end of Superstudio, such as the San Paolo di Torino Banking Institute in Prato, Italy; the Liverno waterfront in Liverno, Italy; and the controversial La Pensilina di Santa Maria Novella bus and taxi terminal in Florence, which was demolished in 2010 when Matteo Renzi served as the city's mayor. Di Francia taught and lectured in several cities around the world, eventually joining the University of Camerino (Unicam) in Ascolio Piceno, Italy, in 1992 as an associate professor of architectural design and founding member of the institution’s architecture faculty.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the university community expressed its sorrow from the loss and offered its condolences to di Francia’s family.

“Unicam recalls the competence, preparation, passion for research and teaching that have always marked its figure of university professor, together with an extraordinary humanity and proximity to the dreams and aspirations of students, for which it has always been point of Unique and irreplaceable reference.”
This Mexico City practice aims to " transform space into place."

Firm name: Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura
Location: Mexico City
Year founded: 2009
Firm leadership: Rozana Montiel
Education: B.Arch., Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico; M.Arch., Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Spain
Experience: Diego Villaseñor Arquitecto y Asociados; and has taught in different universities in Mexico City and at Cornell University.
Firm size: 10

We transform space into place. Placemaking is the result of seeking formal content in context, changing barriers into boundaries, shifting spatial perception, approaching the landscape as the program, re-signifying materials, working with temporality, and holding beauty as a basic right. More than an aesthetic decision, beautiful design is an ethical stance impacting people’s lives.

First commission:
My first significant commission was the Void Temple in 2011, a landscape intervention that touches all the themes that concern me as an architectural designer: public space, social fabric, re-signification of simple materials, re-signification of tradition. This land art piece sits amid pine woods and blends with the site topography; it consists of a white concrete wall forming a 40-meter (131-foot) circle that serves as a haven containing the macro-cosmos within the micro-cosmos. The project was part of a collaboration with Dellekamp Arquitectos on a 117-kilometer-long (73-mile-long) pilgrimage route in Jalisco, Mexico.

Second favorite project:
At the 2018 “Freespace” Venice Biennial, we presented our book HU: Common Spaces in Housing Units (Mexico City: Arquine, 2018), which compiles the research and findings of three of our most important public space projects. The book, which advances a new design methodology, collects in a series of post-it graphic aphorisms our observations and solutions for common spaces. The book is one of my favorite projects because it involved a great deal of reflection about how we design and the role language plays in building.

Biggest career leap:
When I began to receive commissions for public projects. It was then that I realized the urban responsibility that architects have when designing collective living spaces. Also, in 2017, I won the Moira Gemmill Award for Emerging Architecture given by The Architectural Review in London. It was an important turning point in my career not only because the prize validated my studio’s approach to architecture, but also because it has funded my research.

Biggest design challenge you’ve overcome:
Every project at our office is a research opportunity that brings a new design challenge. We approach architecture as a form of “willing simplicity” that integrates more with less.

Special item in your studio space:
Our green roof terrace. It keeps us grounded and sensitive despite being on a fourth floor. It connects interior and exterior in an organic way: We can be at the heart of an urban center and yet stay connected to each other through nature.

Design aggravation:
Stale atmospheres. For me, disharmony in a place begins through the sense of smell. If a space has a moldy or stuffy odor, something was poorly designed.

Bad taste in design is not about how things look, but how all spaces and materials come together in an atmosphere. And smell is a tell-all aspect.

Recent inspiration:
I visited the Musée Fragonard d’Alfort in Paris and was fascinated by its écorchés (figures depicted in art showing muscles without skin) and cabinets of curiosities. These cabinets evoke the manner in which architects “make room” through spatial design: Architectural order creates readings and narratives that can only be decoded in space.

Most urgent policy change:
Public space development in Mexico City. Most of the public space interventions lack a long-term vision, due in part to the three-year cycles of political administrations. There must be a way of shielding aspects of policy from political change. Currently, we just get snapshots of progress with no cohesive long-term effect.

Favorite rule to break:
Playing by the rules to their ultimate consequences is the best way to break the rules.

What are you reading?
I love to read several books at a time. I am current
Jobe Corral Architects
Texas is known for its harsh climate—something that Camille Jobe and Ada Corral, principals of Jobe Corral Architects, keep in mind when they are sketching out plans for the mostly residential architecture and interiors projects out of their headquarters in downtown Austin. Previously practicing independently as architects, Jobe and Corral joined together five years ago to form one of the rare women-owned-and-operated architecture firms in the United States. Most recently, the duo completed River Ranch, a modern house in the Texas Hill Country built employing traditional rammed earth construction. Interior Design sat down with Jobe and Corral to learn more about River Ranch, why they have debates about front doors, and the clear division that drives their creativity.

Interior Design: So, tell us a little about the River Ranch project.

Ada Corral: The clients were really in love with the land. After an arborist came and talked about the big oak trees on the site and how it was all very rooted and connected underground, we came up with this idea of using traditional rammed earth construction. The rammed earth is a conceptual way of tying in the love of the land and the connection with the earth. Having a building that is sheltering and protected was also important. Our solution is an almost U-shape, with expansive glass in the direction of the view.

Camille Jobe: For River Ranch, the rammed earth is made of decomposed granite, Portland cement, and water. It’s a dry mix that is poured into forms in ‘lifts’ of about six to twelve inches and then rammed down to compact it. This layering process is what gives it the striated appearance. It has been done for thousands of years and was an easy yet sound construction method because it requires no heavy machinery and can be done incrementally. The rammed earth was really the boss of this project because once we created these walls, they sort of ran the show. There is not a single space where you don’t see them—so we had to be very particular about texture and color, warmth and coolness next to these super striking and very distinctive walls.

ID: How did you choose the furnishings, which have a Scandinavian feel?

CJ: The project began with a collection of pieces that we called ‘artifacts,’ which the client had gathered from around the world over time. We started thinking about filling the space solely with items that were just as well-crafted—where you could see the connection, detail, and materiality—and make each one of these pieces a new artifact. So, all of the new furniture either has a notable providence story—in terms of where it came from—or appeal in the way it was assembled. For example, in the living area, the pink leather and wood sling chairs are from a company called Fenton and Fenton and are made in Indonesia.

ID: What’s coming up for you?

CJ: In collaboration with a branding company in Oregon, we’re doing the architecture and interior design for a young company headquarters in Austin. It’s a large commercial space that we’re figuring out how to make look like home.

We also have a fun project that is literally three toilets. In Austin there’s a trail that goes around Lady Bird Lake, and up and down the trail are these little boutique, sculptural restroom projects by different architects. We've admired the previous restrooms that have been out there so we’re really excited about it. Ours will be of terracotta tile, concrete, and steel, and to create the sink we are reusing a concrete pipe.

ID: How do you work together as a team?

CJ: I am the big-picture person and Ada is the detail person.

AC: So, it is very clear.

ID: In what kind of homes do you live?

AC: We're actually neighbors and live on the same street about five houses down from each other in the same style of post-World War II residence. There was a shortage of wood at that time, so the houses were built out of concrete blocks instead of wood framing. As such, they are both very simple mid-century concrete block houses. After we started our partnership, we brought the houses into the office and designed additions for both of them at the same time.

ID: How did your childhood play a role in your creativity today?

CJ: My dad and everybody on his side of the family are civil engineers and my mother w
Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Cesar Pelli, who designed some of the world’s most recognizable buildings, died on Friday at his home in New Haven. He was 92.

His son Rafael confirmed the death.

Mr. Pelli’s works included the cluster of towers making up the World Financial Center (now called Brookfield Place) at Battery Park City in New York, famous for the glass-roofed Winter Garden at its center; the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, known for its bright blue glass facade; and Ronald Reagan National Airport outside Washington.

Although his work was wide-ranging — he designed the United States Embassy in Tokyo, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar, among other projects — Mr. Pelli was particularly known for his skyscrapers.

His Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004. Other Pelli towers, if not record holders, commanded the skylines of cities around the world. He designed the One Canada Square tower at Canary Wharf in London; the Carnegie Hall Tower in New York; the Salesforce Tower, now the tallest building in San Francisco; the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong; the Wells Fargo tower in Minneapolis; the UniCredit Tower in Milan; the Torre Banco Macro in Buenos Aires; and the Goldman Sachs tower in Jersey City, among many others.

He won hundreds of architecture awards, including the 1995 gold medal of the American Institute of Architects, its highest honor.

Mr. Pelli’s success came late in life. He didn’t open his own firm until he was 50, and even then, he said, “It was only because I was forced to.” That happened in 1977, when he was chosen to design the renovation and expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

With his wife, the landscape architect Diana Balmori, and a former colleague, Fred Clarke, he formed Cesar Pelli & Associates Architects to handle the MoMA project.

The firm grew, eventually becoming Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. The second Pelli in the name is his son Rafael, who practiced out of an office in Manhattan while Mr. Pelli and Mr. Clarke ran the New Haven office that Mr. Pelli set up in 1977 in a modest two-story building across the street from the Yale School of Architecture, where he was then serving as dean.

It was an unprepossessing location for a firm that would become one of the most prolific designers of skyscrapers around the world. It remained Mr. Pelli’s base until his death.

The couple never returned to Argentina to live. Instead, one of Mr. Pelli’s professors, Ambrose Richardson, recommended him to Eero Saarinen, the great Finnish-American architect then working in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Mr. Pelli spent almost 10 years at the Saarinen firm.

One of his projects there was the TWA Flight Center at Kennedy Airport. As Mr. Pelli recalled it, Mr. Saarinen was unhappy when structural engineers informed him that the building’s two central columns would have to cross each other, forming a giant X. Mr. Saarinen asked Mr. Pelli to try to sculpt those columns into something beautiful, which, in Mr. Pelli’s account, led to the celebrated gull-winged building.

Later, Mr. Pelli was assigned by Mr. Saarinen to work on two new residential colleges at Yale, which were being built on a tight budget. Mr. Saarinen came up with a scheme to use walls of reinforced concrete with large, exposed stones — an inexpensive way of evoking Yale’s older masonry buildings. When Mr. Saarinen died in 1961, Mr. Pelli continued working on what became Ezra Stiles College and Morse College, considered exemplars of gentle modernism.

Jayne Merkel, a Saarinen biographer, said Mr. Pelli was “the real creative right-hand man” on both the TWA and Yale buildings.

In 1967, Mr. Pelli took a job in California at a giant architecture and engineering firm known as DMJM. The firm’s commercial clients wanted buildings quickly and on budget, and Mr. Pelli enjoyed great freedom as a designer, as long as he met those goals.

He became particularly well known for his experiments with new forms of glass facades, and designed numerous buildings covered in different forms of reflective glass, including glass in colored panels. But the glass skins, which obscured pretty much everything behind them (but often offered gorgeous reflections of the sky) weren’t right fo

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the RAIC Foundation are pleased to announce the three winners of the 2019 RAIC International Prize Scholarships.

They are:
  • Laure Nolte, Dalhousie University
  • Lucie Palombi, University of Montréal
  • Odudu Umoessien, University of Manitoba
Each student has won a $5,000 scholarship for writing an essay describing the moment they decided to become an architect or knew their decision to become an architect was the right one.

The RAIC International Prize Scholarships are presented in conjunction with the $100,000 RAIC International Prize. The winner of the RAIC International Prize, to be selected from a shortlist of three projects from Senegal, Peru, and Chile, will be announced at the RAIC International Prize Gala on October 25 in Toronto, ON. The scholarship winners will receive their awards at the same event.

The RAIC received 93 eligible entries in both English and French from students enrolled in Canada’s 11 accredited schools of architecture as well as students at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University and the RAIC Syllabus Program.

“These essays describe moments when their authors understood the world through architecture and formed their own wish to be an architect,” says RAIC President Michael Cox, FRAIC. “Gathering with people, travelling, reading – all are enriched by the places where they occur. In very different ways, the essays evoke the value given by the built world to our lives, and the wish of architects to contribute.”

Amal Dirie will receive a Certificate of High Merit for her essay, on the temporary dwellings built by nomadic people in Somalia.

The 2019 jury members are:
  • Elsa Lam, FRAIC, editor of Canadian Architect magazine;
  • Anne Bordeleau, MRAIC, director, School of Architecture, University of Waterloo;
  • Douglas MacLeod, FRAIC, chair, RAIC Centre for Architecture, Athabasca University;
  • André Perrotte, FIRAC, partner, Saucier + Perrotte Architectes;
  • Barry Sampson, FRAIC, principal, Baird Sampson Neuert Architects;
  • David Covo, FRAIC, associate professor, Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University.

HY William Chan
Australian designer HY William Chan has been named on the “30 Under 30 – Asia” list published annually by international business magazine Forbes.

The list celebrates people under the age of 30 who are “game changers” in their field.

Chan, who works for Cox Architecture, was listed under the “Industry, Manufacturing and Energy” subcategory and is the only honouree currently working in architecture.

Rana Wehbe, Forbes Asia editor, said the list recognized “inspiring game-changers like William who are disrupting their sectors and not taking ‘no’ for an answer.”

Patrick Ness, executive chairman of Cox Architecture, said, “As a design practice that is driven by ideas and the innovations that support them, William’s recognition by Forbes acknowledges the important role our up-and-coming leaders play as visionaries and disrupters in the field of design.”

Chan’s most recent project is a plastic waste recycling scheme for refugees, which he presented to the United Nations in 2018.

Co-created with youths at refugee camps in Greece, the project used plastic waste material at the camps, which was refined and converted into 3D-printed objects.

Chan’s team has successfully produced 3D printing filament from the plastic waste produt such as discarded bottles, which was identified as a serious problem by the inhabitants of the Eleonas and Skaramagas refugee camps in Athens.

“The architecture, engineering and construction industry is one of the least disrupted sectors globally,” said Chan.

“Architects have a uniquely creative skillset, but we need to be more agile and entrepreneurial in how we design solutions that address the economic and social challenges of our cities so that we remain relevant as an industry.”
Interior Design Media
“I didn’t have that visiting-art-gallery kind of upbringing,” reveals Paul Cocksedge. Not that this deterred the British designer from jumping thoroughly into the creative arena himself. Since co-founding Paul Cocksedge Studio with fellow Royal College of Art (RCA) alum Joana Pinho in 2004, Cocksedge has earned international recognition for product design, architectural projects, installations, and sculptures, and completed work for the Victoria & Albert Museum, Swarovski, BMW, and Hermès, among others. Some of the studio’s more attention-grabbing projects include a furniture collection created from drilled-out sections of the concrete floor of the space he was getting evicted from, an interactive lighting installation which invited people to kiss under mistletoe during Salone del Mobile, and a living spiral staircase bursting with greenery and social breakout spaces for the Ampersand office building in London.

This September, for London Design Festival 2019 (LDF), Cocksedge will unveil “Please Be Seated,” a large-scale feat of engineering with no obvious joints or structure fabricated from repurposed scaffolding planks. The installation will be the biggest yet in both budget and size commissioned by LDF headlining partner British Land. Interior Design sat down with Cocksedge to learn more about the LDF installation, what intriguing philosophy he has when it comes to choosing furniture for his own home, and to hear the revelation of a long-kept secret from his college days that he is only now confessing.

Interior Design: Could you share a bit more about your upcoming installation at LDF, “Please Be Seated?”

Paul Cocksedge: We were asked to think of something to place in a wonderfully proportioned square near Liverpool Street for the duration of LDF. Our piece is a very curvaceous form that is very technically advanced in terms of how it is made. It consists of three rings or three waves of wood, continually flowing forms, which give you a place to sit and interact, with performance space and shelter. In the end it’s completed by people, who are the last ingredient.

ID: Why scaffolding planks?

PC: British Land is a developer, and when you are walking around the streets of London you see the metal scaffolding and the wood planks, which are a part of their process. You can’t reuse scaffolding planks as scaffolding because they have to comply to health and safety requirements. However, there’s a very innovative interiors company, White & White, that we are collaborating with. They have established a business of collecting all of these pieces, cutting them, sanding them, and repurposing them into floors and walls. The wood is full of texture and tone of color and it’s a very beautiful material to work with.

Although when you are repurposing wood, there’s always a very important consideration: You don’t want people to look at it and think, ‘Oh this is a recycling project.’ That is definitely not how this will look. The repurposing story is the secondary message, after the creation of the form.

ID: What else have you completed recently?

PC: At the Norman Public Library Central, in Norman, Oklahoma, we are just about to complete a 45-foot-high wire metal sculpture, “Unbound.” Oklahoma has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I’ve never seen a landscape like that before, with the changing weather, the light. It’s a new library and we were invited to pitch for—and then won—the competition for an outdoor sculpture. This is the first time we have done something permanent on this scale. The sculpture has a lightness of touch to it, and really looks like it is suspended in space. Set against a beautiful landscape and the building, it’s a structural, mathematical kind of riddle that we have solved in what we think is the most elegant way.

We also recently completed a small piece of temporary architecture for Art Basel Hong Kong, a lounge for Hong Kong developer Swire Properties, which was holding talk programs with the RCA. It needed to look really beautiful and well-detailed, and yet function in many different ways, from relaxing cafe to presentation space. It was really a fast project that came out better than I was drawing or imagining.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

PC: I just bought a Victorian house, which is about 100 years old,
Architectural Record
Philip Freelon, FAIA, a much-admired, award-winning architect, died today at the age of 66. He had been diagnosed with ALS in 2016.

Freelon founded his practice, The Freelon Group, in Durham, North Carolina, in 1990, and went on to design civic and cultural projects throughout the United States—libraries, schools, museums, parks, and academic buildings, notably for a number of historically African American colleges. His best-known works include the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, where he worked with David Adjaye (Freelon’s firm was architect of record); the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta; the Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte, North Carolina; the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco; Emancipation Park in Houston; and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson.

In 2014, the Freelon Group, one of the largest African American–owned firms in the country, joined with Perkins and Will. Freelon continued to lead his team on such projects as the North Carolina Freedom Park in Raleigh; the Durham Transportation Center; and the Motown Museum expansion in Detroit.

In paying tribute to his colleague, Adjaye told RECORD, “I am deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Freelon. He leaves behind an indelible mark on the practice of architecture and his legacy transcends the brick and mortar of the buildings he designed. Phil was a pioneer, an advocate of diversity and inclusion, and his impact will only strengthen over time as we continue to see people of color rising in the field of architecture. More than anything, however, Phil was a dear friend and mentor.”

Indeed, Freelon was a highly influential leader in the profession, where barely two percent of registered architects are African American, and hugely encouraging to younger minority practitioners. A statuesque man with a gentle demeanor, he was a fierce proponent for equity and pluralism, and brought a deep humanism to the communities with whom he worked and to his architecture. The two curving walls of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, for example, were inspired by the arms linked together during the historic marches for civil rights.

Born in Philadelphia—and the grandson of Allan Randall Freelon, a painter associated with the Harlem Renaissance—Freelon studied architecture at North Carolina State University and earned an M.Arch. from M.I.T. He was the youngest architect to pass the registration exam in North Carolina, at age 25. In mid-career, he was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and received honorary degrees from NC State, Duke University, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He taught and lectured throughout his career at various institutions, and was a professor of practice at M.I.T. His awards include the AIA North Carolina Gold Medal and the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. President Obama appointed him to the United States Commission of Fine Arts in 2011.

Freelon is survived by his wife, jazz singer Nnenna Freelon, and three children.
Bret Hartman/TED
The University of California, Berkeley, has named Vishaan Chakrabarti dean of its College of Environmental Design (CED). The founder of New York–based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) will continue to lead the firm during his deanship.

Chakrabarti is a 1996 graduate of CED’s architecture program and member of the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council. He holds a Masters of Architecture from UC Berkeley and a Masters of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as dual bachelor’s degrees in art history and engineering from Cornell University. An AIA Fellow and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Chakrabarti has also been a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) since 2009, where he is currently an associate professor of professional practice. There, he has directed projects including a public-private partnership to redevelop Penn Station, and the adaptive reuse of Domino Sugar Refinery and Park, both in New York City. He also served as director of the Manhattan office of New York City’s Department of City Planning from 2002–2005 during the rebuilding that followed 9/11.

In this new role, Chakrabarti will succeed Jennifer Wolch, who stepped down at the end of the spring 2019 term after 10 years at the helm of the CED. Professor Renee Chow, chair of Berkeley’s architecture department, will serve as acting dean beginning July 1, 2019, until Chakrabarti begins on July 1, 2020.
Interior Design Media
Juan Montoya, the acclaimed interior designer and Interior Design Hall of Famer, is well known for his eclectic approach to his craft, refusing to be wedded to any particular style or period. Initially he was labeled a minimalist, but over his 40-plus-year career his work has evolved dramatically. Montoya's eye for juxtaposing textures, colors, and volumes began at an early age in his native Colombia, and was later refined during his formal training at an architecture school in Bogota and Parsons School of Design in New York. Today, examples of his work can be found the world over.

Throughout his career, Montoya became somewhat of a collector, too. Many of his elegant pieces have found their way into the debut 1stdibs and Christie's collaboration. The collection, entitled "Christie's for 1stdibs," is currently exhibited at the 1stdibs Gallery in New York City. This means the approximately 100 pieces of furnishings and decorative items, curated by Montoya, will be available to collectors without them having to wait for an auction. Some of the pieces were designed by Montoya himself, including several petal-form side tables.

Interior Design: What is your first memory of design?

Juan Montoya: At age seven, with my mother's approval, I decorated my room with an orange wool fabric (curtains, bedcovers, and tablecloth). The chair was upholstered in a black-and-orange plaid with a black wool fabric as contrast.

ID: What motivated you to launch your design career in the U.S.?

JM: After architecture school in Bogota, I came to New York and graduated from Parsons School of Interior Design and then I went to Paris and Milan for three years. Upon my return, I decided to open my own firm.

ID: What projects have you completed recently?

JM: I’ve recently completed a pre-war 6,000-square-foot apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York, and I’m just completing a 20,000-square-foot apartment overlooking the water at the Surf Club designed by Richard Meier in Miami. I’m also finishing a beach house on the water in Water Mill on Long Island, and quite a large cabin in Lake Tahoe, as well as a modern house in Pound Ridge, New York.

ID: What is upcoming for you?

JM: A historic landmark house in upstate New York is ongoing, and an apartment on the West Side [of Manhattan] overlooking the river.

ID: What is your biggest design pet peeve?

JM: When projects aren’t finished to perfection and they are too matchy matchy with no surprise.

ID: Do you have a design object in your home that is particularly important to you?

JM: The vintage manual juice press that I use every morning.

ID: What differentiates art from design?

JM: Is there a difference? Good art and good design go hand in hand.

ID: Do you practice any kind of visual art yourself?

JM: I am designing sculpture and sculptural installations in my country retreat upstate. I also enjoy landscaping.
Matthew Momberger
Australian Institute of Architects 2019 National Prizes Gold Medal: Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg

Jury citation
The Gold Medal – the Australian Institute of Architects’ highest honour – recognizes distinguished service by architects who have designed or executed buildings of high merit, producing work of great distinction that has advanced architecture or endowed the profession in a distinguished manner. The 2019 Gold Medal is awarded to Hank Koning FRAIA and Julie Eizenberg RAIA of Koning Eizenberg Architecture.

Since the inception of their practice, Hank and Julie have produced work of dignity underpinned by an egalitarian generosity of light, scale and air – all imbued with Australian congeniality and wit.

After studying at the University of Melbourne, Julie and Hank arrived in Los Angeles in 1979 to undertake graduate study at UCLA. They established Koning Eizenberg Architecture on graduating in 1981.

The practice is located predominantly in Santa Monica, California, and much of its work considers communities that have been overlooked by architects and the design community in general. This neglect has occurred for a range of reasons – the problems involved were perceived as too difficult to work through, the genre of work was unfashionable or there simply existed a professional blindness to the needs of those communities in general.

Through their affordable housing, education and civic projects, Julie and Hank have tirelessly fought to improve the situation of these typically underprivileged communities. Their efforts have transformed the lives of those they have touched – by providing meaningful and respectful homes, they have also brought these communities into the spotlight so that other firms may now consider designing for them a worthwhile pursuit.

The firm has not relied solely on architectural commissions to make a difference to the world; rather, Julie and Hank have continuously sought to change the nature of the world they are pitching in. They do this by actively challenging the planning process through their engagement with authorities and the community to make better outcomes than the existing regulations and methods have typically allowed. In this way, the legacy of their projects lies not just in the bricks and mortar of the buildings themselves, but also in the hearts and minds of all those involved in making sure the lessons learnt extend beyond the property boundaries.

Their commitment to being agents of change has continued over time, with Julie teaching and lecturing around the world, including at Yale, Harvard, MIT, UCLA, SCI-Arc, Tulane University and the University of Melbourne. In April 2016, Julie was a keynote speaker at the Australian Institute of Architects’ National Architecture Conference in Adelaide, How Soon is Now, where she clearly outlined the firm’s values of “designing from social principles first” and “connecting communities through design.” The examples she gave and the difficulties of the process that Julie and Hank are willing to endure to ensure a successful outcome – for their clients as well as the surrounding community – are testament to the practice’s ongoing energy and commitment to its principles. The high-quality, often award-winning built results stemming from this process of community engagement have surely inspired many architects to consider tackling the important work of socially responsible architecture.

Throughout his career, Hank has been involved in the profession beyond practice, including through the Australian Institute of Architects’ International Chapter, for which he has been a committee member since 2010 including time as Chair. Hank’s involvement has been instrumental in developing the chapter’s growing mandate and success.

Other aspects of the firm’s prowess can be seen in their early consideration and application of sustainable practices, including in their own offices in Santa Monica, their design for the largest LEED silver-rated museum in the United States (the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 2004) and, more recently, their design for the LEED platinum-rated Pico Branch Library in Santa Monica, California ( 2014).

The firm has already won great respect among its peers, with a long list of awards for its architecture, and it is t his design talent combined with a long- term ethical investment in designing for underprivileged communities, and showing the value of this endeavour for all concerned, that make Hank Koning
The Architects' Journal
Architecture firms are rallying to the climate change cause with an 11-point action plan. But have they understood the transformation in practice this will commit them to? Will Hurst reports

Three weeks ago, something momentous happened in British architecture. Seventeen winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize, including Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Zaha Hadid Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, issued the Architects Declare call: a plea for practices across the country to join them in recognising the twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss and the ‘paradigm shift’ now required in the construction industry to tackle these looming threats.

Since then, practices of all sizes and types have flocked to the Architects Declare banner. At the time of writing, 429 practices have signed, including about two-thirds of AJ100 firms – 80 per cent of the top 50 and every firm in the top 10. The call to action was mirrored by an open letter from architecture schools, headed ‘Architecture Education Declares’.

Building on the momentum in the profession created by the Extinction Rebellion protests, Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency, and the AJ’s own ‘Wake Up’ issue on the crisis published in February, the speed and scale of the response has surprised those behind the campaigning initiative.

"Do these firms realise this is not a simple bolt-on, but a fundamental rethink of the design process? "

Yet, as with the government’s more recent commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, actions will speak louder than words. The 11 pledges within the campaign are far-reaching and sound almost improbable, coming from design studios famous for their carbon-hungry towers, mega airports and swooping concrete structures.

Assuming the signatories are sincere, most now face the task of transforming their working practices, their business models and indeed their entire approach to architecture in a very short space of time. As Simon Sturgis asked in the immediate aftermath of the declaration: ‘Do these firms realise this is not a simple bolt-on, but a fundamental rethink of the design process? BREEAM 2018 is not sufficient.’

So what should we make of Architects Declare and how did it come about? Is it truly the start of a profound change of direction for British architecture or panic-driven sloganeering by a sector that has finally got the memo? Moreover, where do those practices who have signed up to the declaration go from here?

Architects Declare has no leaders nor designated spokespeople and each signatory is expected to speak for his or her own organisation. One of the people most active in it is Steve Tompkins, co-founder of RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Haworth Tompkins. Tompkins works on housing, higher education and masterplanning schemes but is best known for his work on cultural buildings, and was named the most influential person in British theatre by The Stage magazine in January. In recent months he has been pondering how architecture should respond to the climate emergency, and hosted a low-carbon focus group organised by the AJ in February. This involved several of those architect-campaigners who later worked behind the scenes on Architects Declare, including Julia Barfield and Waugh Thistleton co-founder Andrew Waugh.

"Many observers point to the yawning gap between the rhetoric and the ongoing work of some of the best-known Stirling winners"

‘The idea was born out of a conversation with [architect and author] Michael Pawlyn in the early part of the year,’ Tompkins recalls. ‘We were both frustrated by the lack of urgency within the construction sector around the climate and biodiversity crises and were discussing how the UK architecture profession as a whole – as opposed to the familiar pioneers who have been quietly working away for years – could find its voice.’

Architectural consultant Caroline Cole then facilitated a meeting of Stirling Prize-winning practices to discuss the idea of a joint public statement or open letter and it soon became clear that all those present agreed in principle on the need for action. The association with the Stirling and the extraordinary coming-together of an otherwise disparate group of leading architects gave the open letter added impact.

Tompkins is heartened by the response, which, he says, confirms his recognition that many architect colleagues ‘share both a deep anxiety about the environmental realities we face and an unmet desire to find ways to work together to respond’.
Ben Kumata
This San Francisco–based practice aims to "use architecture to address social, ecological, and economic issues that often sit outside a building’s footprint."

Firm name: The Open Workshop
Location: San Francisco
Year founded: 2013
Firm leadership: Neeraj Bhatia
Education: B.Arch., University of Waterloo; M.Arch., MIT
Experience: Eisenman Architects, Coop Himmelblau, Bruce Mau Design, Teeple Architects, OMA, and ORG
Firm size: Four to six

We aim to use architecture to address social, ecological, and economic issues that often sit outside a building’s footprint. In essence, we engage architectural form in territorial issues.

First commission:
Roosevelt House

Favorite project:
The “New Investigations in Collective Form” exhibition hosted at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in San Francisco, allowed us to reflect on our practice and see patterns emerging across a variety of projects.

Second favorite project:
The Garden of Framed Scenes pavilion in Viseu, Portugal, was a smaller project, but it reminded us how collectivity can be formed and framed within a larger environment.

Origin of firm name:
The name of the office emerged from late Italian novelist Umberto Eco’s treatise The Open Work (Bompiani, 1962). For Eco, an “open work” is strategically designed to be incomplete, allowing an individual to incorporate some final missing piece. Although Eco’s treatise did not address architectural practice, it offers a promising way to address political and environmental indeterminacy and instability in our field. Our studio uses the template of Eco’s treatise to understand the subject as both the collection of distinct humans and the dynamic environment that they inhabit. For us, “open work” suggests that designers maintain control and precision through the structuring of permanent frames that require individual meanings, interpretations, and/or transformative environmental qualities to complete the project.

Architecture hero:
I am inspired by British architect Cedric Price’s work—for its range, transcalar nature, and interest in questions of indeterminacy and adaptation. His time-based approach that spanned from systems to objects is highly relevant for our contemporary challenges.

Modern-day architecture hero:
Rahul Mehrotra tackles social and economic issues through multiple scales and lenses. He is able to connect questions of urbanism and sociology to those of form and aesthetics. The range and quality of work is astonishing. Further, his research, advocacy, and collaborative process is inspiring as it expands where and how architectural agency can be manifest.

Design tool of choice:
Foam wire cutter—its speed allows for a highly iterative process that can also be precise.

Memorable learning experience:
The start of my post-professional degree at MIT coincided with Hurricane Katrina. MIT responded with several classes devoted to efforts of rebuilding, examining water-based urbanism and highlighting the problematized relationship between architecture, infrastructure, and the natural environment. Embedded in that negotiation are deeper questions of class and race divides that architecture often attempts to normalize or control. These issues became the core of the Open Workshop’s work. In particular, we ask how this negotiation might unfold to empower local people as well as the environments they live in.

Greatest challenge in running a successful practice:
Of course money and clients are always the largest challenge. More specifically, however, a key challenge is aligning the type of work tied to our deeper interests and research—on urbanism and the public realm—with the reality of opportunities for young offices.

Today, architects should be discussing:
Questions of architectural agency. I think all architects share a goal around this theme, but position their agency in very different realms and for very particular audiences. Given that the largest issues that we confront—namely economic inequality and environmental fragility—are largely spatial in nature, I would love more discussions in unpacking our agency in addressing these challenges.

On your reading list:
Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons and the Transformation to Postcapitalism by Massimo De Angelis (Zed Book, 2017); Perspectives on Commoning: Autonomist Prin
Grimshaw Architects
The 2019 RIBA Gold Medal winner will stay on in an advisory role with Andrew Whalley succeeding him as chairman.

After almost 40 years at the helm of his eponymous firm, British modernist Nicholas Grimshaw, Hon. FAIA, is stepping down as the chairman of Grimshaw Architects, ceding the role to longtime colleague Andrew Whalley, FAIA. Grimshaw will stay on in an advisory capacity and focus his time on the new Grimshaw Arts and Architecture Foundation. "I will continue to make available my experience from the last 50 years in practice,” he said in a press release.

Grimshaw is best known for projects like the Waterloo International railway station in London and the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. In 1995, he was named an honorary member of AIA's College of Fellows, and in 2002, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. This year, he was awarded RIBA's 2019 Royal Gold Medal.

"Andrew has worked closely with me for over 33 years and has been involved in many of our key projects," Grimshaw said. "He has undertaken the role of deputy chairman for the last eight years."

A graduate of the Architectural Association School of Architecture, Whalley joined Grimshaw Architects in the 1980s and went on to help establish and run the firm's New York and Doha offices.

"I’m thrilled to be fostering another generation of the Grimshaw practice in pursuit of innovative design solutions that address the complex contemporary challenges that we face," Whalley said in the same release.
SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop
Within architectural practice, navigating through blind spots in the design process is something many studios work through. In Dan Spiegel and Megumi Aihara's case, SAW's mission is to approach these moments of design obscurity by focusing on their passions for architecture, landscape architecture, and design. With their goal of designing both for the inside and outside, Spiegel and Aihara use object materiality and scale to produce potential outcomes in spatial design.

From their stunning residences to the integrative urban-scaled projects they design, SAW uses their interdisciplinary approach to develop highly technical yet subtlety beautiful landscape and architectural works. For this week's Studio Snapshot, Archinect chats with Spiegel and Aihara about their experience in running a practice and the strategic risks they take when designing for the ever-changing environment.

How many people are in your practice?


What prompted you to start your own practice?

It really started with the simple desire to just do projects – to design physical things to be built. The idea that this would become a practice was something of an afterthought. But as we began to work together more and more, we realized there were some strange disciplinary blind spots, especially for smaller projects. The first step was relatively obvious for us: combine our backgrounds in architecture, landscape architecture, and design the inside and outside. But as we got a little deeper into it, we started confronting complicated notions of operating across different time scales – the entropy of the objects against the proliferation of the ecologies. We started to wonder, when is the project actually complete? When construction ends? When it’s occupied? When the trees have matured? When the building finally crumbles? These are questions that probably aren’t well suited to singular projects as we initially intended, but could be better (and, perhaps, only) pursued through the arc of a practice.

What are the benefits of having your own practice? Staying small?

It has allowed us to take on strategic risks and unusual challenges since the stakes seem more manageable, or at least knowable. Every project starts as an affirmative choice, and this acknowledgment of wanting to do something can make even the smallest project meaningful and exciting. Plus, we can play whatever music we want in the office.

Is scaling up a goal?

Sure, but not a primary goal. We’re working toward taking on more public work to engage broader constituencies. Dan’s undergraduate work was in Public Policy, and there is still a strong ambition within the practice to use design towards community solutions. And, often, bigger problems require more bandwidth. But we think we can be more flexible about what the scale of an office is if we let go of a bit of organizational autonomy. So far, when we take on a big or complex project, we’ve been more interested in teaming up with trusted collaborators than immediately growing. That said, we’ve grown every year, so it’s clearly a bit of both.

What have been the biggest hurdles of having your own practice?

The professional becomes personal. And that’s more than just about perception – it’s about finances, time, recreation, everything.

Do you have a favorite project? Completed or in progress.

In a sense: we’ve recently taken to calling a series of vignettes we’ve collected across a range of projects “Other Objectives.” It’s essentially a series of narrative crossgrains that run throughout our work on projects of all types and scales. More than anything else, it’s an attempt to refocus intent through the lens of outcome. We often half-seriously liken it to Schrödinger’s Cat (both alive and dead until the box is opened); our objectives are defined by how the work is viewed at a particular moment in time. Conditions change, projects are used and misused, things break, plants grow, and buildings crumble. We realized that it’s possible for a design process to be totally appropriate, but for the resulting thing to somehow be misaligned. We’ve become comfortable with loosening our grip on a singular, pre-determined objective, and rather designing for a range of possible outcomes.

With a project like "Other Objectives" did it help you r