Arch League of New York
AN profiles all of this year’s Emerging Voices firms
The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series spotlight individuals and firms with distinct design “voices” that have the potential to influence the discipline of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The jury, composed of Sunil Bald, Mario Gooden, Lisa Gray, Paul Lewis, Jing Liu, Thomas Phifer, Bradley Samuels, Billie Tsien, and Ian Volner, selected architects and designers who have significant bodies of realized work that creatively address larger issues in the built environment.
The Architect’s Newspaper featured the Emerging Voices firms in our February issue and the lecture series has just concluded. However, in case you weren't able to attend, we've compiled each of our Emerging Voices firm profiles below. Enjoy!
After leaving large architecture offices in Vancouver, wife and husband Susan and David Scott established their own practice in 2012 out of their home and studio—a renovated former grocery store off of Main Street. Using this home-studio and a cabin they built for themselves as their initial portfolio, the Scotts began building a reputation for their warm, minimalist aesthetic. “Our first few commissions included a sausage restaurant and a barn,” David said. “After working on large institutional projects, the idea of doing things that were more functional and related to the daily lives of their owners was very appealing. We really value having a direct relationship between architecture and its occupants.”
OJT is making waves in New Orleans with research-based work that redefines overlooked and undervalued properties. Founder Jonathan Tate is an Auburn graduate who experienced the Rural Studio under Samuel Mockbee and spent 10 years in Memphis working for Buildingstudio (formerly Mockbee/Coker Architects). After a sabbatical to study at Harvard, he relocated with the firm to New Orleans in 2008 and started OJT a few years later. “New Orleans just felt like the right place to be. We really cared about what was happening post-Katrina,” he said.
Architect Thomas Robinson kick-started his career with Joseph Esherick, the architect best known for designing the Hedgerow Houses at Sea Ranch, California, followed by stints leading institutional and cultural projects at Herzog & de Meuron in Switzerland and Allied Works in Oregon. In 2009, Robinson, a graduate of UC Berkeley and later Harvard (studying under Peter Zumthor), decided to branch out on his own, launching LEVER Architecture from his Portland basement.
“Our father was an architect and we grew up in a small town in Napa Valley. Architecture became a medium through which we explored the world,” Dominic Leong said. “It was a way to understand the city, and for us there was an inherent link between the cosmopolitan and architecture.”
Dominic and his brother Christopher founded their practice, Leong Leong, in 2009, and although they came from distinct architectural firms—Dominic worked at Bernard Tschumi Architects before founding PARA-Project, while Christopher worked at SHoP and Gluckman Mayner Architects—their shared upbringing equally influences their firm’s approach. “The practice is much more about an organization and a collective of people. Our interest in architecture is a way to embed ourselves in different contexts and to relate to who we are as individuals,” Christopher said.
Jackson, Mississippi–based Duvall Decker Architects have a knack for finding design solutions for the complex politics of the underserved urban South. From housing to institutional work, the firm navigates an intricate web of public money, government subsidy, and city code. They have become so good at it that they find that they are teaching their clients, and sometimes city officials, how to get things built while serving the community.
Mexico City–based architect Frida Escobedo has only ever worked for herself. A graduate of Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and the Arts, Design, and the Public Domain program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Escobedo cofounded her first office, Perro Rojo, in 2003.
In 2006, she began her eponymous firm, realizing a trend-setting rehabilitation and reinterpretation for the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros’s home and studio that utilized screened walls made up of breezeblocks. Casa Negra, built in 2007, is a slightly deconstructivist sentinel clad in black panels that straddles a bluff overlooking a rural road from Mexico City to Cuernavaca. In 2013, her studio conceived of a circular, weighted plaza sculpture for the Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Escobedo explained, “Our work goes from the scale of furniture to something larger.”
When Brian Bell and David Yocum first founded BLDGS 10 years ago, they didn’t plan to specialize in adaptive reuse—certainly not in Atlanta, a city not necessarily known for exploring the past.
But after they continued to land such commissions, they began to relish the role and have elevated this ever-expanding realm of architecture to a more creative, thoughtful, complex level than almost any firm has been able to achieve.
“We take a lot of pleasure in uncovering,” Yocum said. “If we can find the truth in each of the challenges and kind of reflect the presence of that truth it gives us a lot that we would not be able to layer onto a project.”