Every year, the Architectural League of New York recognizes up-and-coming designers who have not quite made their mark, but are bound to. (Stretching back to its inception in 1981, a few past winners were Steven Holl, Ralph Johnson, Billie Tsien, Neil Denari, Stan Allen, J. Meejin Yoon, and many others who have become household names in the architectural community.)
This year’s list is made up of six winners (three single-person practices and three pairs, for nine designers in all), for the 36th edition of one of North America’s most prestigious programs recognizing young architects and designers.
The competition is open to designers who have been finished with their bachelor’s or master’s degree program within the last 10 years. The winners are decided via a portfolio competition organized by Architectural League program director Anne Rieselbach and the Young Architects and Designers Committee. This group is made up of the past winners, who select both the theme of the current competition and the members of the jury. Members of the 2016-17 committee included Erin Besler of Los Angeles–based Besler & Sons (also an ARCHITECT Next Progressives up-and-coming firm); Aaron Forrest of Providence, R.I.–based Ultramoderne (also an ARCHITECT Next Progressives firm); and Sung Goo Yang. The jury the committee selected consisted of Sylvia Lavin, critic and professor at the University of California Los Angeles' School of the Arts and Architecture; Guy Nordenson, partner of New York–based Guy Nordenson and Associates; Mark Robbins, the American Academy in Rome president; and Shohei Shigematsu, partner of OMA's New York office.
This year’s theme was “Support,” which was chosen by the committee is to get the submitters to analyze the “present situation in which precarious forms and precarious social arrangements exist side by side. How does one clarify the modes of support in architecture today when the discipline’s role is obscured by a tangled network in which exchanges between built form and various systems of framing, assistance, and reinforcement are constantly in flux?”
This Year’s Winners:
Jonathan Louie and Nicole McIntosh of Architecture Office
Louie and McIntosh's Architecture Office is, according to their website, "Part practice and part observation, the work deploys images to distinguish form from its’ assumed cultural associations. The projects support architecture’s unique capacity to not be static and singular, but, to simultaneously engage and refresh the real-time value of the things around it."
Louie obtained his M.Arch. from UCLA, and won a fellowship residency at the MacDowell Colony in 2015. McIntosh obtained both her B.Arch. and M.Arch. from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). They both currently teach at Syracuse University School of Architecture.
Michelle JaJa Chang
"With the design of House A, B," says the Architectural League in their profile of Chang, the designer "studied computer rendering software to reveal how its algorithms prioritize efficiency over fidelity to create forms. The result is a cubic two-story home split into an elastic arrangement that oscillates between zones of compression and expansion." Chang received her bachelors in international relations from Johns Hopkins University and an M.Arch. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
Kevin Hirth of Kevin Hirth Co.
Hirth is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver College of Architecture and Planning, with an M.Arch. from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a bachelor's from the University of Virginia.
"Our work," says Hirth on his firm's website, "has recently focused on the rural and urban condition of the American West. Projects in exploration include single family homes down unnamed roads in the mountain wilds and mixed-use towers pushing up against the edge of the Midwestern plains."
Mustafa Faruki of TheLab-Lab for Architecture
Faruki is the founding partner and creative director of the seven-year-old TheLab-Lab who, according to the Architectural League, received his M.Arch. and B.Arch. from Columbia, as well as a masters in art history from SOAS University of London.
According to TheLab-Lab's website's "main lobby," they are "a new york-based practice dedicated to completely reinventing the outputs of architectural design." And their site is most certainly not shy. (There's a lot of pink, flashing lights, and a few choice curse words thrown in to make a point.) The Intake Facility for Governors Island in the New York City harbor (left), is said to be managed by the "US Bureau of De-Celestialization."
Isabel Martínez Abascal and Alessandro Arienzo of Lanza Atelier
Lanza Atelier, according the the Architectural League, "approaches its residential and public projects with the same risk-taking approach that they foster with their work in the realm of the gallery and museum." Abascal obtained her M.Arch. from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and now teaches in the Architecture and Urbanism department at Escola da Cidade, in São Paulo. Arienzo graduated with honors from the Universidad Iberoamericana with an M.Arch.
We profiled Sports in December for our Next Progressives series, where Corso and Hunker told senior editor Wanda Lau that their mission is "to make compelling spaces and objects that embrace the ideas latent in everyday phenomena. We are a small studio whose approach to architecture is simple: Balance rigor and research with amusement and curiosity."
Corso got both his M.Arch. and bachelors in economics from UCLA, and also completed a MacDowell Colony residency in 2016. Hunker has a bachelors in urban geography and studio art from Dartmouth College and an M.Arch. from UCLA. They both currently teach at the Syracuse University School of Architecture. They both also previously taught at the University of Illinois, Chicago School of Architecture, and Woodbury University, and Hunker was also a program coordinator and lecturer at UCLA.
These six winners will show their work in an exhibition at Parsons this summer. (It will we at the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries at Parsons the New School of Design's Sheila C. Johnson Design Center in New York City from June 28 through Aug. 1.) They will also be participating in the Architectural League's League Prize Lecture Series on June 27 and 29. The first night will feature Kevin Hirth, Michelle Jaja Chang, and Greg Corso and Molly Hunker; the second night Jonathan Louie and Nicole McIntosh, Isabel Martinez Abascal and Alessandro Arienzo, and Mustafa Faruki.
And More from the Past Winners
The Architectural League is also releasing a new book, Young Architects 17: Authenticity, with work from the 2015 Architectural League Prize winners. That year the competition theme was “Authenticity,” and submitters were asked "how recent advances in computation, visualization, material intelligence, and fabrication technologies have begun to alter design principles and also the architect’s role and their approach to architecture and research." The book features more detail on the work of the 2015 winners Dan Adams and Marie Adams of Landing Studio, Anna Neimark and Andrew Atwood of First Office, Erin Besler of Besler & Sons, Seth McDowell and Rychiee Espinosa of McDowellEspinosa, Thom Moran, and Clark Thenhaus of Endemic.
To learn more about the book and maybe purchase it, go to archleague.org/publications.