“It bothers me that primarily wealthy individuals and well-funded institutions engage with architects,” says Mitch McEwen, 32, founder and director of Superfront, an independent and scrappy organization that curates architecture exhibits on a shoestring budget in three locations: Brooklyn, N.Y.; Detroit; and Los Angeles. “This may sound incredibly presumptuous or haughty—that a little upstart nonprofit could contribute anything to the promotion of a profession hundreds of years old—but I am talking about the significance of small conversations across disciplines.”

Since its founding in 2008, Superfront has presented solo and group shows, organized workshops, and, maybe most importantly, forged collaborations with community groups and more-established architecture venues such as the Architectural League of New York. This year, Manuel Avila, 31, was the winner of Superfront’s architect-in-residence program, geared towards emerging practitioners. He worked with residents in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood to rethink vacant spaces for the aptly named “Participatory Urbanism” project. McEwen and her team are always scheming; this season debuts a large outdoor installation called “Public Summer” and a crowd-sourced video on ideas for Detroit. But given their super-DIY approach on all three fronts, it’s hard to predict what’s next. Or, according to McEwen: “Beyond that, we figure it out as we go along.”