How will the sharing movement of today affect the way we inhabit and build the cities oftomorrow? Manhattan, one of the most dense and iconic places in the world, has been a laboratory for many visions of urbanism. Sharing Models: Manhattanisms invites 30 international architects to produce models of their own visions for the city’s future. The models, each a section of Manhattan, establish analytical, conceptual, and physical frameworks for inhabiting and constructing urban space and the public sphere. Together, they present a composite figure; a territory that is simultaneously fictional and real, and one that opens a window to new perceptions of the city’s shared assets.
When in 1939 the Bronx borough president James Lyons planted a flag on Manhattan’s Marble Hill and deemed it “Bronx Sudetenland,” referring to the Nazi annexation of regions of Czechoslovakia, he may have exaggerated the degree of conflict. Nonetheless this moment marks one episode of many in the conflicted history of the northern border of Manhattan, a line bounded by the east-west waterway that separates the borough from the mainland. This so-called “natural” border, however, is far from static. Through the centuries Manhattan’s northern edge has been shaped and re-shaped, cataloging New York’s evolving ambitions in its changing forms. The waterway has been reconfigured from swirling eddies in the 17th century, before settlement by Europeans; to the wadeable Spuyten Duyvil Creek; to the severing of the landmass by the Harlem Ship Canal in 1895; and finally the filling-in of the river north of Marble Hill in 1915.
Where the Borough Ends investigates this liminal zone at Manhattan’s northern edge, including its episodic reconfiguration. It renders visible the paradox of how we think about natural landmarks as fixed demarcations—a Chinese word for “border” still comprises the character for “river”—when they, in fact, are transformed at the same speed as urban change. Instead of showing a single iteration of Manhattan’s northern edge, this sand-and-water model represents infinite possibilities for the divide. Viewers get their hands dirty and shape the terrain between the two boroughs by molding the model’s scale landscape. An overlaid projection responds in live-time, extending Manhattan’s grid to south and the Bronx’s urbanism to the north. Data points on model’s sides serve as reference for historical datums of elevation, water level, and average housing prices.
Where the Borough Ends aims to provoke broader questions about how politically-configured landscape forms often result in “shared” liminal territories of both conflict and coordination. Currently, Marble Hill—the vestigial neighborhood on the North American mainland but legislatively remaining in Manhattan—represents a “shared” territory that is the urban legacy of the fluctuating border. Marble Hill residents vote for Manhattan Assemblyman, City Councilman and Borough President and are called for Manhattan jury duty; yet their school board representatives hail from the Bronx and city services including fire, police, and EMS are also served from the Bronx.
Beyond New York, consider for example the recurring border disputes resulting from the shifting of the Rio Grande at the Mexican-US border, resulting in both arbitration and re-channeling of the river. Or the shifting the Sham Chun River between Hong Kong and Shenzen, which once—when its course was corrected to respond to flooding—also allocated more territory to the S.A.R. Collectively these are symptoms of a long shift from the perception of landforms and waterways as immutable wilderness, toward the contemporary understanding of urban and landscape edges to be perpetually changing, bureaucratically-defined, and up for reconsideration. Today, a group called “The Great and Glorious Grand Army of The Bronx” performatively re-enact Lyons’ flag planting annually, defending against what they consider the Manhattan’s “spoiled ramblings of the effete bourgeoisie.
2017 - ongoing
Upstream from Chicago’s known issue of vacant lots is the opaque purgatory of "demo court," currently comprising a backlog of 1700+ buildings slated for demolition. These properties have reached a legal point-of-no-return: violations piled up, fees levied, owners and lenders pursued, and the complex absolution of building permits left unissued. However, with city-ordained demolitions at a yearly cost of $35 million, Permissions/Forgiveness asks: How can we reframe the buildings of “demo court” as public assets? This project investigates demo court through mapping, cataloging, and construction. Using open-source and interview data, this research documents the City’s shadow ecology of condemned buildings, economies and stakeholders. With a close analysis of building materials, this research investigates alternative procurement processes, including the details, quantities, and distributed locations of commonly demolished components. De-construction mock-ups at 1:1 scale suggest the means and methods to untap the possibilities of Chicago's most precarious building stock.
You won’t find a car behind every garage door. In fact, many Chicago residents don’t use their garages for parking at all. Instead they run businesses, fix bikes, build furniture, and organize protests in their garages. This project proposes re-designing the “accessory building” code, letting currently “non-conforming” uses expand to become the norm. Rebel Garages investigates and celebrates the secret lives of garages. Historically, alleyways were flanked by coach houses for horse and carriages. Now, self-driving electric vehicles and businesses like Uber are projected to reduce the need for parking. What could these alleyways and their architecture look like in 10 years? Rebel Garages sees the Chicago alley system as a unique city asset that can become a vibrant civic space. Beginning with a provocative rethinking of the city’s codes, through simple but radical changes such as allowing for new plumbing or reducing height limitations, Rebel Garages imagines a new future in everyone’s backyard.
View interviews with Chicago residents who use their garages in unexpected ways at: http://rebelgarages.tumblr.com
With Larisa Ovalles, Ben Widger and Ashley Mendelsohn
The Circus is a traveling event space for exhibiting and experiencing works of art and architecture on the back of a truck. The Circus began as a winning entry of WorldWide Storefront, a Storefront for Art and Architecture project which networked 10 galleries globally. In 2014-2015, the Circus for Construction traveled to different cities, including Ithaca, Buffalo, Boston and New York, to host events and exhibitions on local issues.
2016, Chicago, IL
“The Uncomfortableness of Getting into Bed With Others” is an architectural installation accompanying a symposium on March 11 in SAIC’s Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects. The project is a piece of large furniture which temporarily replaces the traditional seating in the Neiman Center. Using “seating” as a method of questioning “participation” as a methodology in art and architecture (the symposium’s topic), the installation takes the form of a large bed which participants must negotiate while attending the day’s events. Low to the ground, the project is intended to challenge one’s sense of personal space, ergonomics, and the implications of sharing space with others.
2017, Proposal for Times Square New York
With Andrew Heumann
Times Square Valentine Heart finalist
In Renaissance Italy, after the death of his wife, patron of the arts Pier Francesco Orsini built a strange garden filled with sculptures of monsters, gods, and follies to reckon with his grief. This installation for Times Square Valentine rethinks the Sacro Bosco for 21st century: a labyrinthine experience of unexpected encounters with others and also with oneself. The garden is home to sculptures dedicated to the “God of the cute coffee shop regular,” “God of newfound love at 70,” or the “Monster of ‘we should just be friends.’” Visitors can contribute their own gods and monsters through a generative Twitter bot which creates and catalogs new idols in response.
This proposal also invokes the ghosts of Times Square, echoing the sixties and seventies in which shadowy movie theaters allowed for romantic encounters in an era of necessary anonymity. Built in a scaffolding system, the intervention is a metaphor for New York under construction: the city as a changing infrastructure for love in all its complexity.
Future Firm hosted a pop-up exhibition and panel by Foam. The three-day installation was a Partner Event of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. "Tropical Mining Station" developed and expanded ideas discussed in Prescriptions Issue 02: Ryan John King, Ekaterina Zavyalova.
"A Tropical Mining Station is a spatial product that extracts surplus value from the process of cryptocurrency mining to produce space. The installation serves as a proof of concept that the question of decentralization both begins and ends with architecture. The Art of Economy is a day-long series of talks and presentations by leading voices from the fields of architecture, philosophy and computing on the triangular relations between decentralized technology, architecture and the office-form." — Foam
Prescriptions is a bimonthly zine. The title suggests that architectural practice may need some corrective medication. The zine features one interview per issue with builders of all kinds on their beginnings and futures. Issues are launched with an associated event, including at New Museum's IDEAS CITY (Issue 01); the Chicago Architecture Biennial (Issue 02); and the Graham Foundation Bookshop (Issue 04).
2016, Kirkenes, Norway
Honorable Mention, Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016 "After Belonging"
This research investigates the unique multiplicity of identities in the far north, where cities within the Arctic region share more in common with each other than others in their own nations. This project proposes the creation of a new constituency of investors in the Arctic region, who act cooperatively to re-claim agency on a transnational playing board of large corporations and remote political maneuvers.
In 1999, almost a decade before An Inconvenient Truth, John Dickerson—a former CIA analyst—bet big on climate change. Dickerson accepted early on the coming drought in the American West and established Summit Global Management, the first water-based hedge fund. The fund bought water rights and invested in “hydrocommerce” technology. When in the coming years water became scarce, Dickerson and his clients comparatively saw a “flood of money.” Soon, big banks also looked to capitalize on and prepare for the ecological catastrophes of the anthropocene: Goldman Sachs issued a report calling water the “petroleum of the next century.” Others continue looking to profit from climate change for their own agendas: Greenland secessionists are betting on increased profits from the thawing tundra to finance their independence. Emergent businesses tap into this same game of futures: “geoengineering patent trolls, private firefighting” and more.
This research proposal, Cooperative Arctic Hedge Fund, proposes to create a new constituency of investors in the far north. We argue that the “architecture” of the arctic is not wood and steel buildings, but rather the spatial territories of EEZs, drilling rights, logistics expertise, and the power of capital. This project proposes the establishment of the first-ever democratically-run investment group focusing on the Arctic: both rendering visible transnational exchanges and offering fiscal agency to local populations working at the fringe of global power plays in their own backyard. The Arctic, as it stands now, is a palimpsest of identities: overlapping national boundaries, shifting populations, changing geographies, and flowing resources. Yet despite the lack of traditional identifiers, the cities in the arctic circle share more in common with each other than they do with cities in their own countries. These local populations often find themselves on a neoliberal chess board, with far-remote governments and corporations as the players. This proposal asks: What if arctic populations collected their “insider” knowledge on the far north to hedge against corporate and state powers acting in the region?
How can the seaman, miner, and local hotelier reclaim agency against oversized movements of capital and make claim to the Arctic—through legal fiscal piracy—against the ticking clock of the melting ice?
2015, Chicago, IL
"Dishonorable" Mention, Chicago Prize
Chicago Architectural Club
Drone Aviary won a "Dishonorable Mention" for the Chicago Prize. According to Architects Newspaper's coverage of the project, the project was a "wry proposal to make Obama’s the first drone-driven library in presidential history. Though it presented the concept with a straight-faced optimism, [Martin] Klaschen said, the subject matter belies a critique of Obama’s legacy as the face of a growing surveillance apparatus and military-industrial complex." — AN, February 2015
The Drone Aviary is a building oriented to the sky instead of the street. It is also a library that, like an Amazon warehouse, collects and disburses artifacts rather than locking them away. The legacy of the Obama Presidency is the population and automation of the skies, transformed into a critical operation of his presidential library.
The Obama Library drones collect data in an age when libraries no longer rely on books but rather the accumulation of digital information. Quadcopters scan midwestern agricultural production, monitor the climate, and even follow the former president for live updates. The drones also serve physically distribute information. Chicago’s teachers who want to share with their students the pen used by Barack Obama to sign the healthcare reform bill simply request that the library send it via drone to their classroom.
The tower has few inhabitants. Drones move about making necessary repairs to one another and the building. Artifacts remain tucked into the Aviary wall until they are called upon for delivery, future iterations of existing library automation services in place at sites like the University of Chicago. Long dark banks of servers whirl away between drone stations. A lone repairman wanders the tower executing the few tasks the drones cannot.
At street level a sculpted landscape serves as a neighborhood park. Visitors lie in the grass and watch the drones navigate and cruise in the tower above. Larger winged drones land gracefully on the river to be elevated up the towers central void. A few rooms for visitors lie tucked away beneath the landscape, but mostly they remain empty. The Drone Aviary is a library for logistics. To experience all the treasures left by the Obama Administration, put your feet up, fire up a laptop, and click Submit Request.
2014, Cambridge, MA
Kirkland Gallery, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Wall Strike, an installation at Kirkland Gallery in the winter of 2014, investigates the extra-material quality of walls and architectural boundaries. It attempts to complicate the practiced and performed qualities of walls. The project attempts to bring to light how the sturdiness of a wall is formed by a social contract, as well as its materiality. Throughout the installation, architectural elements and sonic intervention overturned the visitor’s relationship with solid-void; wall-opening; and space-circulation.
Wall Strike comprises a series of five walls with openings which appear to be the product of a violent intrusion. To pass from one side of gallery to the other, the visitor must walk through these walls. As she steps through, a motion sensor triggers the sound of a loud explosion. Throughout, one hears the sounds of murmuring — as if from neighbors through the wall. These sounds emit from the the walls themselves, transformed into resonating planes through simple electronics. Overhearing is a small way in which the boundary quality of walls breaks down in the every day.
Wall Strike draws from Eyal Weizman’s documentation of an Israeli military tactic of bombing through walls to create new pathway through the urban fabric. This entailed circumventing the roads, alleyways, and doors and windows by passing directly through buildings. Breaking down, through, or beyond walls has served symbolically (Berlin Wall, US-Mexican border), critically and artistically (Gordon Matta-Clark), curatorially (DSR’ “Mural”), rhetorically (“Doctors Without Borders”). Wall Strike hopes to use critical art practice as a method of raising these questions about violence and constructed space. What if walls could talk? Could they also scream?
2015, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Craig Reschke (MLA Thesis)
Jacob Weidenmann Prize
The USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program spends two billion dollars each year to rent farmland to take out of production in an effort to mitigate the environmental impact of farming and ranching. These sites are largely unseen, unmapped, and unoccupied by people; a managerial plus sign on a ledger filled with the negative externalities of farming. This project reconsiders the Conservation Reserve Program and Precision Agriculture in the rural Midwestern landscape with following questions: How can CRP react to real-time feedback loops generated with precision agriculture? Should these landscapes serve only as factories that deliver needed calories to cities? How can CRP more broadly interpret Conservation? Is there a lifestyle in this environment that is as glamorous as those proposed for city dwellers, and does this culture need to be conserved as well?
Conservation Reserve Program
The USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) spends two billion dollars each year to rent 35 million acres of farmland and take that land out of production in an effort to mitigate the environmental impact of farming and ranching. In comparison the budget for the National Park Service, which manages 84 million acres, is just under three billion dollars. At two-thirds the cost and only 43% of the acreage CRP operates on $53.16 per acre while the National Park Service survives on a paltry $35.48 per acre.
Sites that are enrolled in CRP are largely unseen, unmapped, and unoccupied by people; a managerial plus sign on a ledger filled with the negative externalities of farming. Without graphic documentation these sites exist for most Americans only in the deluge of raw data dumped onto the USDA’s website; which leaves them largely inaccessible. Oversight of the program, to ensure farmers steward land as required, is minimal. FOIA requests to the USDA result in long lists of participants that receive rent payments, but the agency refuses to deliver the associated PIN numbers that would locate the properties geographically. Only by comparing the USDA list of names with the tax status of properties on a county-by-county basis can one start to map with some certainty where these sites are located.
The speed of contemporary representation conflicts with cadastral and political boundaries. Our representations of the landscape have increased in speed, resolution, and the ability to be cross-referenced, but social and cultural systems such as land ownership, zoning, and conservation efforts have not adopted the same dynamism. These conditions fail to keep pace with rapidly evolving models of the earth’s surface. Representation is now real-time and the man-made boundaries it depicts are not. Does the real-time feedback loop between present ground conditions and their representations open a space for landscape architecture around the very boundaries with which it lies in conflict?
The introduction of real-time representation techniques permanently and irrevocably split the ground into two simultaneously active, and equally important, layers: a field of soil and plant-life, the underlying field, and a field of electronic representations, the derivative field. This landscape schism is created by methods and electric technologies available to contemporary society, and only became a schism once the derivative field was permanently established. This condition opens a new arena for activity in the derivative field, no longer subservient to the underlying field, for those with the agency to engage the medium.
This information comes in different languages. The forms of information into which we’re translated are not all similar. The information systems of some agents in the field will be different from those of others. To work fully in the derivative field one must speak fluently and have the ability to translate.
Those that learn to play in the derivative field will shape representations and outputs, and those outputs will manifest themselves in the underlying field. One can only undermine, critique, subvert, appropriate, or engage these representations and the speed at which they are produced if working in the same system and language. The debate around and political agenda of landscape architecture has been relocated to the derivative field.
United States farmland, specifically the ‘corn belt’, is a home to a large derivative field born from the wide adoption and integration of precision agriculture by farmers. Implements equipped with GPS, myriad sensors, and autopilot capabilities are the primary actors on today’s underlying surface. Farmers are more akin to managers of large-scale robotic factories than the nostalgic images of past generations that worked the ground. Precision Agriculture tools collect site-specific data that is made immediately visible to operators through a representation displayed on a monitor, either at the site of operation or at a remote location. Production processes and site flows that once took years to document are now visualized in what appears to be real-time. These computer applications have moved farmers and the management of their operations into the derivative field. However the relocation of the site of primary agency has gone all but unnoticed by farmers. The change has not yet taken advantage of the feedback loop to change practices in the underlying field. The geometry of fields, the intermediary spaces between fields and the habitats within them all remain unchanged. Static cadastral and political boundaries persist against the deluge of new technologies that have made them obsolete.
The United States passed the Land Ordinance of 1785 and divided the Midwestern United States into an abstract grid of townships and sections. Each township is six miles by six miles, that township is subdivided into smaller and smaller iterations that end with 40 acre plots that were made available to farmers. This system, one iteration of the feedback loop between underlying and derivative fields, has become the most powerful of boundary conditions in the corn belt. Today the Midwestern states are an agricultural powerhouse and the land ordinance has been inscribed on the ground in the form of roads, fields, and buildings. The few visible exceptions to the grid are rivers and waterways that cut across it, delivering the externalities of farming to the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.
The new tools of agriculture operate inside political boundaries that were laid out in the 18th century. Precision agriculture visualizes the clashes between dynamic systems and static boundaries within a system of feedback loops. This generates new spaces for landscape interventions in productive rural landscapes
2015, Austin, TX
Inviva (Project Designer: Craig Reschke)
"99 White Balloons," a winning entry of the 2015 Field Constructs competition, is activated by a series of microphones and proximity sensors as well as 396 LED lights that float high above the ground with the balloons. Sounds picked up by the microphones at each anchor tower increase the intensity of the LEDs in waves outward from that tower. Each tower, and its relationship to the floating ring, illustrates the small differences in each of the preserve’s three landscape types through temperature, ambient sound, and movement.
MIT Schlossman Research Fellowship Award
In Hong Kong, a niche for ash storage in a private columbarium today can cost up to HK$200,000 (US$25,000). Waiting lists for niche allocation in all types of columbaria — private, public, old and new — are growing longer. Online websites where one can scout availability for one’s deceased relatives have popped up. Local planning committees negotiate with frustrated citizens seeking a place for their ancestors’ remains and angry homeowners looking to avoid the plunging property values associated with cemeteries. In a city where urban development is getting taller, denser, and more expensive by the year, private real estate moguls have seized the opportunity and responded with new sites for columbaria throughout Hong Kong, despite neighborhood pushback and licensing requirements. Developers tread water in a legal gray zone, arguing the semantic differences between “shrines” and “columbarium”, and capitalize on booming demand.
A question emerges from the fray: what is the future for afterlife storage in increasingly-crowded Hong Kong? In these micro-cities — at which all the dwellers of the metropolis must eventually arrive — the confluence of Hong Kong’s rapid urban growth and traditional beliefs emerge in building form.
In Crowded Necropolis, we investigate this question by cataloging and mapping the architectural typologies of remains storage in Hong Kong. Cataloging captures the range of existing solutions in place in the city, and mapping — socially and historically, as well as cartographically — inspires a more complex discussion of the remains storage crisis. We hope to provoke questions, which when framed through the lens of real estate and architectural design, have global implications for the housing of increasing bodies, living and deceased. Today’s columbarium shortage in Hong Kong has been surveyed by journalists, anthropologists, and city regulators, however, an architectural engagement of this inherently urban problem has yet to take place.
2016-Ongoing, Lake Bluff, IL
An addition to a home in Lake Bluff, featuring an indoor pool, workout space, and flexible loft area. Integrating new outdoor space for summer use and taking advantage of southern sun, the Lake Bluff addition embraces the home's natural surroundings. This project integrates a luxurious, contemporary space into the existing home and connects with minimal interference to existing spaces.
2016-Ongoing, Chicago, IL
A dog behaviorist and trainer in Lincoln Park transforms her garage into a dog training center during Chicago's winter months. Future Firm developed a new building which works within the parameters of an accessory building, while contributing a light-filled, warm space for the business.
2014, Belmont, MA
With Nushin Yazdi Design
This 1500 sf addition in Belmont, MA serves as a guest house and expansion for a local family. Focused on a central, double-height space and large openings to the outdoors, the Belmont Addition also serves as a space for gathering and family events. Custom-fabricated elements allow the space to be re-configured for a range of uses. This project was designed in collaboration with the home owner.
Photographs by Matt Hintsa
Ongoing, Chicago, IL
This mixed-use development near Chicago's Chinatown investigated the potential for market-rate, dense urban housing. Focusing on the importance of simple construction, re-thinking traditional materials, and incorporating natural light into unexpected areas of the building's floor plan, this project seeks to offer a luxurious, well-designed residential and commercial units at neighborhood rates.
2013, Cambridge, MA
RODE Architects (Project Architect: Craig Reschke)
Commonwealth is a restaurant, bar and market owned by former Fenway Park executive chef Steve "Nookie" Postal. Located on the ground floor of Watermark II, a new modern full-service high-rise apartment complex at 250 Kendall St. in Cambridge’s Kendall Square neighborhood, Commonwealth features a 1,300 SF marketplace, 5,200 SF restaurant/bar, private dining room and outdoor patio. (Text by RODE)
Ongoing, Chicago, IL
This mixed-use, multi-family development in the heart of Bridgeport delivers market-rate units with high-end design. The project investigates the possibilities of using common, mass-produced building materials and construction methods to add public space, natural light, and sustainable heating and cooling.
2013, Cambridge, MA
RODE Architects (Project Architect: Craig Reschke)
Cambridge Spirits is Kendall Square’s first full service spirits, wine and beer store, and was designed to juxtapose the exciting energy of the high-tech area with a relaxing aesthetic. The perimeter is wrapped in bare steel and natural wood shelves interrupted by tall light slots, patterned to create a subtle, sleek and sophisticated backdrop. Back lighting the bottles allows the owner to display the wines by color. Custom-built, movable tables are used for tastings and display, with legs designed to store bottles of wine. (Text by RODE)