Prairie Plots in Houston (2022), by Dept.
courtesy Dept. Prairie Plots in Houston (2022), by Dept.

The Architectural League of New York has announced the winners of its 2022 Prize for Young Architects + Designers, honoring six firms or designers that completed a bachelor's or master's degree program no more than 10 years ago. This year's theme for the award was "Grounding," a prompt that asked entrants to consider "the substance of design’s foundations," according to a press release from the League.

"Through grounding, designers come to terms with complex material realities, socio-cultural contingencies, and more fundamental ways of being," states the release. "Although grounding suggests locality, contemporary environments are invariably embedded in global systems that complicate architecture’s relationship with place. Grounding thus means, on one hand, making vital connections to what is already there—materially, socially, and otherwise—and, on the other, contending with placeless, pervasive processes. Navigating the remote and embodied, the non-local and local, architecture requires methods of retooling, reappropriation, and transformation to find its grounding. How do young architects tether their work and practices to the grounds upon which they design? How can designers respond to both the particularities of location and the ubiquity of global forces? What are intentional approaches to and forms of grounding?"

The winners of the award, now in its 41th cycle, will participate in a mix of virtual and in-person programming with the League: Virtual lectures with the winners will begin on June 15 and, in the coming months, winners will create digital or in-person installations of their work.

The jury for the 2022 competition comprised Luis Beltrán del Río García; Tei Carpenter, Assoc. AIA; Gabriel Cuéllar; Chris T. Cornelius; Carla Juaçaba; Lola Sheppard; and Mabel O. Wilson.

"Plan Unplanned: Ideas for an Affordable Chinatown," New York (2021), by Citygroup
courtesy Citygroup "Plan Unplanned: Ideas for an Affordable Chinatown," New York (2021), by Citygroup

Citygroup, New York
From the League: Citygroup is an architecture collective founded in 2018 in New York. Headquartered in a Lower East Side storefront, it partners with a wide variety of local organizations to develop and promote equitable design solutions to some of New York’s most pressing issues. Through design projects, public events, and grassroots activism, Citygroup aims to “interrogate the conditions that subjugate, alienate, and appropriate architects, architecture, and inhabitants of architecture,” according to its website. Recent projects include an exhibition and teach-in focused on proposed rezoning in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and a debate series exploring issues related to architecture and the city.

Casa Georgina, San Luis Potosí, Mexico (2020)
Adriana Hamui Casa Georgina, San Luis Potosí, Mexico (2020)

Nathan Friedman and Francisco Quiñones of Departamento del Distrito, Mexico City
From the League: Departamento del Distrito is a Mexico City–based design practice founded in 2017. Its work operates at the intersection of politics, identity, and the built environment, spanning a wide variety of topics and forms. Across its diverse projects, Departamento del Distrito synthesizes design and research “to expand upon local sites of interest, linking them to geographies, time periods, and subjects that reach beyond their immediate bounds,” according to the firm. Recent projects include a house in northern Mexico that integrates historic stone ruins, and a free publication series that explores modernist architectural preservation in Mexico City.

Prairie Plots in Houston (2022), by Dept.
courtesy Dept. Prairie Plots in Houston (2022), by Dept.

Isaac Stein and Maggie Tsang of Dept., Houston
From the League: Founded in 2019, Dept. is a landscape architecture and urban design studio based in Houston. The practice operates at a wide range of intersecting scales, from temporary site-specific installations to urban-scale master plans. Through careful research into each project’s web of social and ecological contexts, Dept. aims to produce “creative, useful, and adaptive design responses for the public and the environment,” according to its website. Recent projects include a 10,000-square-foot “living installation” featuring native prairie species in Houston, and a plan for a network of small stormwater retention parks in flood-prone North Miami.

Modern Management Methods, New York (2019), by Caitlin Blanchfield and Farzin Lotfi-Jam
Kunning Huang Modern Management Methods, New York (2019), by Caitlin Blanchfield and Farzin Lotfi-Jam

Farzin Lotfi-Jam of Farzin Farzin, Ithaca, N.Y.
From the League: Farzin Farzin is an Ithaca, N.Y.–based collaborative multidisciplinary design studio founded in 2008. The practice works across architecture, urbanism, computation, and media to investigate the technologies that govern contemporary life. Through varied modes of research and fabrication, Farzin Farzin produces architectural exhibitions that “creat[e] opportunities to pose important questions to the public and make new urgencies evident,” according to the firm’s website. Recent collaborative projects include an installation that revisits an archive of documentary films produced for a 1976 United Nations conference, and an exhibition that exposes and critiques Rio de Janeiro’s smart city control systems.

Outdoorsy Media Rig I, Various locations (ongoing), by Stock-a-Studio
courtesy Stock-a-Studio Outdoorsy Media Rig I, Various locations (ongoing), by Stock-a-Studio

Xavi Laida Aguirre of Stock-a-Studio, Detroit
From the League: Stock-a-Studio is an architectural design practice founded by Xavi Laida Aguirre in 2015. The practice blurs the boundaries between the physical and the digital, creating mixed-reality spaces that interrogate the circular movement of contemporary commodities. Through iterative experiments in materials reuse, temporary architectures, and product manipulation, Stock-a-Studio “links material resources to the immaterial systems that proliferate and qualify them,” according to the firm’s website. Recent projects include a public-facing digital catalog of customizable parts for small architecture and furniture design projects, and a 20,000-square-foot scenic architecture installation for an immersive live performance in Berlin and Los Angeles.

Kithara Project, Mexico City (2022), by TO
Arturo Arrieta Kithara Project, Mexico City (2022), by TO

Jose Amozurrutia and Carlos Facio of TO, Mexico City
From the League: TO is a Mexico City–based architecture and design practice that was founded in 2015. Often located in public spaces, TO’s projects deploy simple tectonic solutions using local vernacular construction methods and materials. According to the firm’s competition portfolio, it engages in frequent “dialogue with the people that use their knowledge, culture, and hands to build: masonry workers, carpenters, ironworkers, artisans, and anyone who is driven by the wish of turning ideas into built and inhabitable environment[s].” Recent projects include an open-air music classroom built of recycled masonry materials in a suburb of Mexico City, and an outdoor museum pavilion that converts construction rubble into roof tiles.