No Lease at Storefront

Catalan architect Eva Franch named as new Storefront director

After vetting a globe-spanning list of more than 70 applicants, the Storefront for Art and Architecture has named Spanish-born architect Eva Franch as its new director. A self-described “curator of ideas” who has taught at Rice University since 2008, Franch is also a practicing architect, only the second working designer to have headed the New York institution since founding director and architect Kyong Park’s tenure in 1982.

A 2003 graduate of Barcelona’s Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura, Franch, 31, earned a post-graduate architecture degree from Princeton, where she wrote a thesis on the utopian spirit of Havana. She runs a Catalonia-based “design and research think-tank” called OOAA, or Office of Architectural Affairs, with two projects under construction in the Ebro Delta: a house and a “dune observatory” that overlooks the Iberian landscape. Due to start at Storefront late this summer, she takes the helm at a moment when the institution could play a dynamic role in shaping the debate about architecture’s uncertain future.

“We are all thrilled at the selection of Eva Franch to lead Storefront,” board president Peter Guggenheimer remarked in a May 12 announcement. “She has it all—energy, intellect, charm, and a commitment to keep Storefront at the forefront of the international conversation centered on the intersections of art, architecture, and urbanism.”

Franch takes over from Joseph Grima, who departed in January after four years as director to take up a position with Domus magazine. Grima had pushed to expand Storefront’s reach outside of its gallery walls with site-specific projects across the city and pop-up satellites in Los Angeles, Milan, and beyond.

Citing her global perspective, Franch said in an interview that she aims to broaden that trajectory even more, reaching out to nonwestern traditions and pushing beyond architecture’s narrow, specialist niches. “I’m interested in the idea of the architect as a humanist thinker and builder who is able to understand all the consequences of their actions,” she said. To that end, she aims to leverage Storefront as a platform for “provocative disagreement.”

“I want to bring people together that do not belong to the same sphere of action or influence,” she added. “Anthropologists, filmmakers, philosophers, cooks—anyone who is interested in participating in the construction of collectivities. That’s the only way that we can start to generate some change.”

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