Since 1982, the Architectural League of New York has singled out North American firms and individuals whose "distinct design 'voices' ... have the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design," as part of its Emerging Voices Award program. This year, the eight winners are Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller of El Paso, Texas–based Agency; Fernanda Canales of Mexico City; Jesica Amescua and Mariana Ordóñez Grajales of Mexico City–based Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura; Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis of Buffalo, N.Y.–based Davidson Rafailidis; Luis Aldrete of Estudio de Arquitectura in Guadalajara, Mexico; Brooklyn, N.Y.–based Future Green Studio founder David Seiter; Helen Leung and Elizabeth Timme of LA-Más in Los Angeles; and Chris Baribeau, AIA, Josh Siebert, Assoc. AIA, and Jason Wright, Assoc. AIA, of Modus Studio in Fayetteville, Ark. (See below for full descriptions of the winners.)

The winners of the Emerging Voices program were selected from 50 candidates that were reviewed in a two-phase jury process including previous Emerging Voices winners. The jury members were Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, AIA, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, FAIA for the first round. Jurors Sunil Bald, AIA, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, FAIA, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien, FAIA, made the final selections.

“This year’s group of winners are unified by the intensity of their social engagement, honoring and enriching place, fueled by hands on commitment to rethinking traditional approaches to design, materials, and construction,” said Architectural League program director Anne Rieselbach in a press release.

Starting March 1, the Architectural League of New York will host four nights of lectures by the winning firms.

Past Emerging Voices winners include Morphosis (1983), SHoP Architects (2001), Studio Gang (2006), and IwamotoScott Architecture (2007).

Selfie Wall (A Public Sphere for Private Data)
Courtesy Agency Selfie Wall (A Public Sphere for Private Data)

Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller, Agency
AGENCY was founded in 2010. Partners Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller use research, publication, and design to explore broad-ranging issues such as material ecology, government policy, and ethics. Recent projects include Fronts: Security and the Developing World (Applied Research & Design, 2018), a research project and book focusing on the relationship between military doctrine and informal urbanism; Breach which explores the simulated environments developed to train military and security forces; and Border Dispatches, a series of Architect’s Newspaper articles about the U.S.–Mexico border.

Terreno House
Photo by Rafael Gamo Terreno House

Fernanda Canales
Fernanda Canales grew up in Mexico City, where her eponymous firm was founded. She believes “architecture is about creating connections between people, territories, and history.” Recent projects include Bruma House (with Claudia Rodríguez), a residence divided into different modules organized around a central patio, with each location based on views, orientation, and vegetation; Reading Rooms, flexible community spaces that can be built by residents of low-income neighborhoods; and The Monterrey School of Higher Learning in Design, a new campus on the city’s outskirts.

Social Production of Housing. Exercise II
Photo by Onnis Luque Social Production of Housing. Exercise II

Jesica Amescua and Mariana Ordóñez Grajales, Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura
Founded in 2015, Mexico City-based Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura provides design services to underserved communities. Their work centers around five methodological axes which they feel are fundamental to “developing inclusive, participatory, and contexutal projects.” Recent work includes Childbirth Houses, designs for midwife workspaces informed by extensive dialogue with an indigenous Chiapas community; and Territory and Inhabitant, a research project for a house that could be built in Yucatán for less than $10,000.

He, She & It
Florian Holzherr He, She & It

Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis, Davidson Rafailidis
Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis established Davidson Rafailidis in 2008. Both are members of the architecture faculty at the University of Buffalo and have also taught at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany and the University of Toronto. Recent projects include He, She & It, a structure with three distinct workspaces for a Buffalo couple; Café Fargo (Tipico Coffee), a coffee shop in a former corner store also in Buffalo; and Mirror, Mirror, the winner of a competition aimed at reimagining the street festival tent.

Pilgrim route shelter
Photo by Francisco Pérez Pilgrim route shelter

Luis Aldrete, Estudio de Arquitectura
Since establishing his firm in 2007, Luis Aldrete has designed residential, hospitality, and cultural facilities, where he works with local craftspeople to employ construction techniques developed over generations. Recent projects include BF Residence, a Guadalajara house whose program nods to the traditional Mexican hacienda; Rinconada Margaritas Residential Complex, a high-rise development in Guadalajara that responds to an adjacent ravine; and Pilgrim Route Shelters, an infrastructural network of shelters designed with other collaborators to support an annual Jalisco pilgrimage.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Photo by K. Taro Hashimura Brooklyn Children’s Museum

David Seiter, Future Green Studio
David Seiter established Future Green Studio in 2008 as a landscape architecture firm that recognizes a “deep integration” between architecture and landscape with an emphasis on research, fabrication, and horticulture. Recent projects include Nowadays, a Queens performance venue with a laid-back, park-like atmosphere; Spontaneous Urban Plants: Weeds in New York City (Archer, 2016), a book promoting the aesthetic and ecological benefits of weeds; and Half Street, a block-long pedestrian plaza in Washington, D.C. that uses green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff.

 The Watts Community Studio project sought to re-envision the role of beautification” to create a holistic economic corridor in Watts, including storefront re-designs.
Courtesy LA-Más The Watts Community Studio project sought to re-envision the role of beautification” to create a holistic economic corridor in Watts, including storefront re-designs.

Helen Leung and Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más
Nonprofit urban design group LA-Más focuses on underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods. It collaborates with community members, government agencies, and developers with a goal to grow cities equitably through design projects and policy initiatives. Recent work includes
Go Avenue 26, enhanced public transit access near a major highway overpass in East Los Angeles; and Backyard Basics: An Alternative Story for the Accessory Dwelling Unit, a conceptual proposal exploring how collectively developed accessory dwelling units could serve as a model for affordable housing along the LA River.

Photo by Timothy Hursley Manzeum

Chris Baribeau, Josh Siebert, and Jason Wright, Modus Studio
Established in 2008, Modus Studio works across a variety of scales, from furniture design to master planning. The studio is founded on the idea that “relevant and inspiring architecture can be sourced from simple, everyday experiences.” Recent projects include Green Forest Middle School, a reinterpretation of traditional school design for a small agricultural community; Eco Modern Flats, a renovation of four dated Fayetteville, Ark., apartment buildings to improve aesthetics, performance, and sustainability; and a transformation of a warehouse on a brownfield site into a University of Arkansas sculpture studio.