In this edition of the Progressive Questionnaire, MALL director Jennifer Bonner discusses her architect/developer hero and the evolving meanings of her firm's moniker.
Year founded: 2009
Leadership: Jennifer Bonner (director)
Education: B.Arch., Auburn University; M.Arch., Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD)
Experience: Rural Studio, Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects; teaching positions at Woodbury University, Georgia Tech, Harvard GSD (current)
Total staff: 2+
We are committed to projects that reappropriate history, hack typologies, reference cultural events, and invent representation. Our architectural interests shift for each project as does the long form of the acronym MALL. [It could stand] for Mass Architectural Loopty Loops. Or Miniature Angles & Little Lines. Or Maximum Arches with Limited Liability. We are interested in an intellectual project, where flooding galleries with 7,000 gallons of water, proposing alternative futures for a 1-mile-long tornado shelter, and hacking ordinary roof types all begin to sound possible. In search of authenticity, we are most happy when we achieve misbehavior in architecture.
Made in Opa-locka, a Miami maker hub, under the label Bonner+Stayner (with former collaborator Christian Stayner).
Domestic Hats is a design and research project that began inside a gallery and now is the basis for a live residential project in Atlanta. Domestic Hats questions the role of ordinary roof typologies in contemporary architecture.
Second favorite project:
Best Sandwiches is the second design and research project in a series that I am working on. Best Sandwiches is colorful, playful, yet also a quite serious, proposal for architecture. Working on the problem of extrusion, Best Sandwiches looks at nine novel stacks in the form of basic sandwich types: submarine, grilled cheese, BLT, and Dagwood.
John C. Portman Jr., FAIA, is my hero, because Southern architects need Southern idols, and because he showed everyone how to invent a typology (“super atrium”) while mastering the architect–developer business model.
Design tool of choice:
Physical models and photography (and all of the other digital tools).
Special item in your studio space:
Eames leg splint.
Memorable learning experience:
In 2004, I was asked to move to Istanbul, Turkey, with Foster + Partners to develop construction drawings for the Palace of Peace (a 62-meter-tall pyramid for Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the capital city of Astana).
Social media platform of choice:
Skills to master:
How to get potential clients to sign contracts.
Morning person or night owl?
Early mornings are for thinking clearly and writing. Late nights are for production and wild ideas.