Chana and Matt presented our work at Harvard University Graduate School of Design Design Discovery. The talk was titled “Design, with” and captured Architecture for Public Benefit’s approach to design.
"Design, with" means that design is collaborative and open-ended. It is an invitation that requires the support and consensus of others to flourish. It thrives in creative environments, with partners that listen carefully and design collaboratively. It encourages us to question what is known and push the limits of what is possible– to use creativity and care to respond to the needs of communities and their environment. To infuse beauty and function into every solution and to realize that we have the agency to make a tangible difference in the built environment and to the people that engage with it every day.
APB was selected to participate in this year's Chicago Sukkah Design Festival. We are partnered with Mishkan Chicago and Lawndale Community Church and designing a sukkah to support both faith organizations ongoing collaboration and intertwined histories. After the festival, the structure will relocate to Lawndale Legal Center and serve as a memorial honoring the lives of LCLC youth lost of gun violence. Shown above is a Worm's eye view of our sukkah proposal. The project introduces three thickened walls that act as vessels and provide moments of connection, storytelling and remembering. We look forward to bringing the project to life with our design and fabrication partner Trent Fredrickson Architecture and hosts Could Be Architecture and Lawndale Pop-Up Spot.
Our firm was selected to join a talented group of architects to rethink how typical Chicago housing typologies can meet the needs of our time. We partnered with Peter Rose + Partners to reimagine Chicago’s six-flat housing typology into an affordable, sustainable, and scalable system. With over 10,000 vacant lots and neighborhoods that remain underserved and in need of good quality affordable housing, this initiative is a commitment to create homeownership and wealth-building opportunities, improve our urban fabric, and empower communities. The exhibition is on view until March 26, 2023 and the public is invited to leave feedback on the proposed designs.
Chana has developed a new class for the University of Chicago titled the Life of Buildings. The studio examines what happens to a building after it is designed and built. How do particular design decisions influence human experience and behavior? Which parts of the building align with its intended use, and what are surprising outcomes or changes? How do buildings perform, evolve, and adapt over time? These questions aim to provide students with a deeper understanding of the built environment and the series of decisions that shaped them. For our second class, we visited the Chicago Cultural Center, originally the first Chicago Public Library, and students captured their research and observations in a short film.
We have partnered with YouthBuild Boston to completely reimagine the future of their storefront on Washington St— home to The Designery. YouthBuild's mission is to expose underrepresented youth to the design and construction industry through design programs and construction training. The Designery is a space where young people can design, create, test, prototype, and share their ideas. Our design proposes (1) a new fabrication lab that holds the street corner, (2) an open and flexible gallery and studio space, and a (3) meeting and collaborating room with library and support core. Today is Giving Tuesday. Consider supporting this project and empowering a young generation to shape the built environment and their neighborhoods.
University of Chicago and Smart Museum hosted a panel discussion titled The Life Cycle of Materials. Chana joined Dan Peterman, Alex Enarson, Jack Schroeder, and Luke Joyner as we discussed the future of buildings and materials. This event was part of the Art History Departments’s Architecture Open Studio series which exposes students to ideas and work about the built environment.
Chana joins the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture’s faculty to teach a core design studio. The class introduces students to foundational architectural principles and encourages creative exploration between critical thought and physical product. Here the students pin up their second project where they used pencil, paper, and xacto knife to explore field conditions and their geometric constructions.
Matthew Okazaki has been selected as Densho’s Artist-in-Residence this year. For his project, he will use photographs and records found in the Densho archives to study the World War II American concentration camps through a series of scale models. In addition to his role as APB principal, Matt has an interdisciplinary art practice that explores themes of longing and belonging. Here is an excerpt from his proposal:
“My grandfather spent his youth in the American concentration camps of World War II. They stayed in horse stables and converted army barracks. He says that there was so much dust. In the middle of the war, in the middle of the desert, surrounded by barbed wire fences and outposts and armed guards, it was a place-between, where the conflict of identity was made manifest. A placeless place for those inexplicably extracted from their former lives, from their former selves. Barren architectures in barren landscapes, these “homes” were hardly that — blank walls, a stove, a lone light bulb — devoid of any semblance and sense of a domesticity. And yet, despite the incredible trauma, looking back my grandfather told me he sometimes took comfort there in the desert. Perhaps much of this can be attributed to the resilience of the people imprisoned, who quickly began making furniture, toys, curtains, and keepsakes from scrap lumber and found objects. They began gardening in the yards, transforming areas into impossibly lush oases in these desolate regions. Here, by transforming the sterility of the desert and the architecture into makeshift homes, an act of quiet rebellion had taken place. A form of perseverance, of gaman, not to be viewed as reactive, but as a radically projective act. For people like my grandfather, like it or not this was home, and so a home it would become.”
Architecture for Public Benefit, along with our incredible nonprofit partner, Aaron's Presents, was selected as a finalist for the Sasaki Foundation Design Grant. We had a great time sharing our proposal for a youth-led design process that advocates for the passion, talent, and vision of young people. By introducing them as full partners in the design process, we not only enrich the discussion and create a more diverse set of solutions, but we also empower these future leaders with the skills and strategies to shape their own cities. Thanks to the Sasaki Foundation for hosting such a fun event and congratulations to all the finalists!
The Boston Public Library and Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics have selected Architecture for Public Benefit to design the outdoor space of nine library branches. We are excited to be working with our partners Design4Equity, YouthBuild Boston, and A05 Studio. Our interdisciplinary team will be collaborating with patrons, community members, and librarians to reimagine how the public engages with the library. This project is an opportunity to bring the library, its services, and its spaces beyond the institution's traditional boundaries and introduce new ways of meeting the library’s critical mission: “Free to All”.