With their recent designs for the Los Angeles offices of international media company Hungry Man Productions, architects FreelandBuck explored the decorative potential of the average office cubicle with whimsy and explosive exuberance. The New York City– and Los Angeles–based architects renovated the interior of an existing 8,000-square-foot warehouse structure in L.A., upending the traditional office layout and utilizing abstracted decorative molding profiles as cladding for cubicle walls. The effort was fueled by an adventurous client that wanted a “dynamic and lighthearted working environment.” That desire resulted in a quizzical collection of stacked cubicles—each one turned askew—organized around a collection of shared open spaces. David Freeland, principal at FreelandBuck, explained that the firm set out to deconstruct the prototypical office and to “engage office culture in a way that makes it not mundane or rudimentary.” In plan, it looks rather chaotic, a byproduct of the firm’s playful massing approach that conceals a finely tuned organizational scheme designed to facilitate the musical chairs–style teamwork approach Hungry Man promotes. The offices are used for everything from client meetings to production projects and even casting calls and photo shoots, circumstances that require the spaces to function as a casual backdrop and formal business environment all at once. As a response, the plan is broken up into several zones: a clustered private office pod near the entrance, a dining and meeting core in a far corner, and an open-office work area in another, capped by a mezzanine filled with more private offices. After every few steps, the shifting and patterned cubicles create an entirely new and different view, framing recognizable, but ambiguous, glimpses of other office areas. The cubicles stack in certain places to create thresholds, resulting in casual indoor rooms lit by soft skylights above. They are also meant to be decorative and act as display cases for Hungry Man’s extensive collection of legacy props. The cubicles are wrapped in MDF cladding produced by a line-based CNC mill and fabricated locally to create a “fantastically inexpensive” finishing material that, for the architects, approximates the “roundness and supple depth” of a line drawing. “We wanted to make a playful connection to the office cube as a fundamental unit of typical office space,” Freeland explained. “Part of breaking loose from the conventional associations of ‘office cubicle’ was to use it for different purposes and organize it in different ways.”
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The finalists for the 2018 Young Architects Program (YAP) have been announced by the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1. Each year, 30 young practices are nominated by deans of architecture schools and editors of architecture publications for a chance to compete to build a temporary outdoor installation in the courtyard of MoMA PS1. After a portfolio review, the initial group of 30 is culled down to five firms, who are asked to submit initial proposals for the project. This year’s finalists are LeCavalier R+D, FreelandBuck, OFICINAA, BairBalliet, and Jennifer Newsom & Tom Carruthers. The 2017 winner of YAP was Jenny E. Sabin with her project Lumen, which employed a web-like woven canopy made of photo-luminescent and solar-active yarns that collected and emitted light. Learn more about each of the 2018 finalists below. BairBalliet BairBalliet is a collaborative effort between Chicago-based Kelly Bair and Los Angeles-based Kristy Balliet. BairBalliet’s work was presented as part of the US Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennial. Along with co-founding BairBalliet, Kelly Bair is the principal of Central Standard Office of Design and is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture. Kristy Balliet, principal of Balliet Studio, is currently faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and an associate professor at The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture. Through both speculative and built work, the team explores precedent and form in two and three dimensions. FreelandBuck The bi-coastal FreelandBuck is led by David Freeland and Brennan Buck. Freeland is currently a faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and Buck is a faculty member at the Yale School of Architecture. FreelandBuck’s work ranges from residential and commercial through urban and institutional projects, with an emphasis on complex digitally-fabricated geometries. Jennifer Newsom & Tom Carruthers Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers make up the Minneapolis-based art and architecture practice DREAM THE COMBINE. As installation artists and licensed architects, the team has produced numerous site-specific installations in the United States and Canada. Each project explores concepts of reality, perception, material, and often social and cultural constructs, such as race and metaphor. LeCavalier R+D New Jersey-based LeCavalier R+D is led by Jesse LeCavalier. Currently an assistant professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, LeCavalier is the former Sanders Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Poiesis Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU, and a researcher at the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory. With a focus on contemporary spaces of logistics, LeCavalier is the author of The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment. OFICINAA Ingolstadt, Germany-based OFICINAA is a collaboration between Silvia Benedito and Alexander Häusler. With a wide range of work in different mediums and scales, OFICINAA draws on its principal’s diverse backgrounds to produce work that covers multiple facets of design. Benedito’s work often focuses on atmospheres and microclimate landscapes, while Häusler’s background is in sculpture and installation work. Together, they have produced everything from urban planning projects and architecture projects to installations and videos. The judging panel this year included: Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art; Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1; Peter Reed, Senior Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs; Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design; Barry Bergdoll, Curator of Architecture and Design; Sean Anderson, Associate Curator of Architecture and Design; Jeannette Plaut and Marcelo Sarovic, Directors, CONSTRUCTO, from Santiago, Chile; and Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator, MAXXI Architettura, of Rome, Italy. The winner will be announced in early 2018.
Joel Sanders Architect with LA-based FreelandBuck have been announced as the winners of an international competition to design the Kunshan Phoenix Cultural Mall, located about an hour west of Shanghai. The project will be the largest to date for both firms. The 262,000-square-foot proposal was designed for Phoenix Publishing and Media Group (PPMG), one of the largest media companies in China. The project consists of a 20-story office tower perched upon a five-story podium, organized around four glass-clad “cultural cores." Each core houses theaters, exhibition halls, a fitness club, and an educational center. A retail loop—compromised of stores, restaurants, and cafes—spirals around each core. The site's cores define the perimeter of a central outdoor atrium, dramatically united by an elevated "Book Mart," whose green roof doubles as both a podium for the office tower and cultural park for the general public. The project's intricate, louvered facade is an example of FreelandBuck's focus on computational patterns as a way to generate tectonic shifts in geometry and space. The construction timeframe for the undertaking has yet to be announced.
Inspired by Lebbeus Woods' "Slipstreaming" drawing series envisioning the dynamics of flow, New York- and LA-based FreelandBuck architects designed Slipstream, a colorful installation made of CNC-cut birch-veneer plywood currently on display at New York's Bridge Gallery through August 24. Now the sculpture could flow out of the Lower East Side gallery and into your home or apartment. Citing storage constraints, FreelandBuck has placed Slipstream on eBay and the installation—all 1,400 pieces of it—could be yours for cheap. The seemingly impossibly complex installation was modeled in Rhino after the firm studied various digital models of flow. FreelandBuck describes the project as "a single drawing extruded through the gallery space and cut away to produce a set of interconnected spaces." According to the architects' auction listing, "It will be taken down on Monday August 27th. We have no place to store or re-erect the project. If you do, it could be yours. Slipstream measures 9'-10"x 20'-10"x8'-3"tall and weighs approximately 250lb," making it about the size of a Manhattan micro-apartment. A smaller spiral piece of the installation (seen in the digital model below) is not included in the auction. While at press time there were only four bids topping out at $11.50, we're expecting a bidding war to break out in a few days as the auction draws to the end this weekend. You can pick up the stack of plywood pieces in Brooklyn, or take home assembled chunks to make reassembly a little easier (shipping is also available, estimated at around $1,200). The digital Rhino file is included with the installation showing how everything fits together, but who ever reads the instruction book? Photography by Kevin Kunstadt.
AIA/LA has just announced the winners of its second annual "Arch Is" competition, open to California designers who have graduated from architecture school in the past five to twelve years. The victors are two of our favorites: FreelandBuck, headed by David Freeland and Brennan Buck, and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, led by Georgina Huljich and Marcelo Spina. Both are on the cutting edge of digital fabrication and complex, layered (not to mention curvy) design. See some of their work, below. And stop drooling. And check out a public forum featuring the winners at LA's A+D Museum on March 24 a 7pm.