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03.27.2014
Emerging Voices> SITU Studio
This digital design and fabrication studio sees its installation work as architecture.
Reorder, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY.
Keith Sirchio

The Architectural League’s 32nd annual Emerging Voices Award brings a focus to creative practices that will influence the future direction of architecture. Each of the eight firms will deliver a lecture this month in Manhattan. The first lecture takes place tonight, Thursday, March 27 at 7:00 p.m. when Estudio Macias Peredo and SITU Studio will present their work.

Situ Studio

Brooklyn,
New York

In 2005, a group of four recent graduates from The Cooper Union set out to start their own fabrication, research, and design practice. Less than nine years after graduation, it is clear the ambitious move paid-off for these classmates-turned-business partners. As SITU, their installations have appeared on the streets of New York and inside some of the city’s great cultural institutions.

The practice currently operates out of a Brooklyn workspace that allows them to design and build in the same place. “That’s not only a kind of practical way of getting things realized, it also allows us the opportunity to investigate ideas through building,” said Brad Samuels, a partner at SITU.

This sense of experimentation is immediately apparent in SITU’s expressive and diverse work. Their installations have an undeniable energy, but they never veer into the realm of impracticality. Their imaginative forms are all the better because they are executed with a refined toolbox and a strict adherence to function.

 
Beaux Arts Ball, New York, NY (left) Design Lab, New York Hall of Science, Queens, NY (right).
John Muggenborg; Patrick Mandeville
 

At the Brooklyn Museum, for example, SITU transformed the Great Hall by wrapping its columns in a white fabric, creating new seating and over-sized, bending canopies. The result resembled a field of white mushrooms, or whirling dervishes caught in motion.

SITU’s most visible work to-date is likely their “Heartwalk” installation, which won the 2013 Times Square Valentine’s Day Heart Competition. The heart-shaped “room within the city” is made entirely of wood salvaged from boardwalks destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. SITU says that Heartwalk “draws inspiration from the collective experience of Hurricane Sandy and the love that binds the city’s citizens together during trying times.”

SITU is currently reimagining the New York Hall of Science’s design lab in the building’s central pavilion. The permanent space will include new hands-on workshops and an interactive “treehouse.”

Heartwalk, Installation in Times Square, New York, NY.
Courtesy SITU Studio
 

In the coming months, SITU’s work will appear across New York City on the side of a food truck called Snowday. The truck, which boasts a snowflake made of reclaimed wood, is part of Drive Change, an organization that provides job opportunities in the food truck industry to the previously incarcerated.

The relatively young firm only plans to build on their impressive portfolio this coming year. As Snowday hits the streets and the new exhibition spaces open at the New York Hall of Science, SITU will be preparing for two new exhibitions, one in Berlin and one at MOMA.

SITU is planning to work on more permanent projects and has ambitions to design buildings in the near future. But Samuels said the installations that SITU has created thus far are just as much architecture as any new building or large-scale project.

Henry Melcher