The Architectural League of New York (ArchLeague) has recognized nine practitioners as winners in its annual Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers. With this year's theme titled "Uncomfortable," the League Prize committee asked entrants to "examine their discomforts."
Explaining this year's theme, ArchLeague shares, "As young designers, we are wrestling with numerous uncomfortable responsibilities: dismantling architectural legacies, challenging traditional paradigms, grappling with the costs of comfort, responding to ecological concerns. Our many discomforts range in scale, context, and urgency. [...] From climate change to labor practices, the sources of our discomfort demand both critical reflection and collective imagination. Are you restless within the discipline’s status quo? How do you respond to discomfort? Whose comfort matters?"
Since it was established in 1981, the League Prize welcomed entrants who are practitioners that have been out of a bachelor's or master's degree for ten years or less. Now in its 42nd cycle, the program committee was comprised of Jose Amozurrutia, Germane Barnes, and Jennifer Bonner, along with an experienced set of jury members such as Barbara Bestor, Wonne Ickx, Kyle Miller, and Tya Winn, among others.
Katie MacDonald and Kyle Schumann of After Architecture — Charlottesville, VA
"Katie MacDonald and Kyle Schumann founded After Architecture in 2012 as undergraduates at Cornell University. In response to the construction industry’s complicity in the environmental crisis, the Charlottesville, Virginia-based studio advocates for resurfacing and advancing sustainable preindustrial building techniques and materials. Simultaneously low- and high-tech, it pairs emerging computational technologies with locally sourced biogenic materials to produce a distinct formal language 'reframing the relationship between biology, technology, and authorship,' in the words of the firm."
Miles Gertler of Common Accounts — Toronto, Canada and Madrid, Spain
"Miles Gertler founded Common Accounts with Igor Bragado in 2016. In its own words, the Toronto- and Madrid-based experimental design studio is 'tethered more to networks of peers, politics, and file storage than we are to traditional notions of place and practice.' Through a variety of media, it engages with the everyday—though sometimes taboo—spatial and technological protocols surrounding self-design and the human body. Exploring subjects from fitness and cosmetic surgery to funerals and deathcare, the studio’s bold experimentations push both design and public discourse beyond their comfort zones"
Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison of Could Be Design — Chicago and Urbana, IL
"Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison founded Could Be Design in 2015. The Chicago- and Urbana, Illinois-based design practice imagines the built environment as an animate being with agency of its own. Using vibrant colors and whimsical shapes, Could Be Design’s projects celebrate this animacy, inviting users 'to find comfort (and even delight) in the discomfort and humility integral to a world in which humans do not claim a privileged dominance,' in the studio’s words. From exuberant commercial interiors to interactive public art, the practice embraces the joy of creative placemaking"
Sarah Aziz and Lindsey Krug — Albuquerque, NM; Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI
"Based in Albuquerque, Sarah Aziz is a designer who researches patterns of migration across scales and contexts. Lindsey Krug, based in Chicago and Milwaukee, is a designer who focuses on the role of the built environment in reifying bodily taboos and inequities. Since 2020, Aziz and Krug have shared a long-distance design and research practice. They investigate and unsettle the overlooked and the everyday, from dollar stores to tumbleweed, through provocative graphics, research, and installations"
Daisy Ames of Studio Ames — New York, NY
"Daisy Ames founded Studio Ames in New York City in 2017. The architectural research and design office responds to two of the built environment’s most pressing crises: the housing crisis and the climate crisis. Intervening at the nexus of the two, the practice’s work examines housing policy, segregation, and repression as well as sustainable construction materials and techniques. The results illuminate often-invisible elements of the built environment and offer a challenge to traditional domestic paradigms."
Sean Canty of Studio Sean Canty — Boston, MA
"Sean Canty founded his eponymous practice in Boston in 2017. The studio engages in geometrical explorations, asking social questions of traditional housing typologies and architectural forms. In its own words, Studio Sean Canty aims 'to help establish a new normal in residential design, one that foregrounds collectivity, communal living, and higher density.' Through spatial contortions and remixes, Canty’s designs embrace both the social and formal tensions internal to each project."
This year's League Prize programming will take a hybrid approach. An online lecture series featuring presentations from winners will take place starting Thursday, June 15 via Zoom, followed by a moderated Q&A discussion. Winners will also create their installations "either onsite in their respective locations or in entirely digital formats, all of which will be presented in an online exhibition on archleague.org" starting on June 13.
Learn more about this year's League Prize programming here.
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