August 3, 2010
by: Jacqueline Pezzillo Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Event: New Practices New York Showcase: Winners’ Panel Discussion
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.29.10
Speakers: Lonn Combs — Co-Founder, EASTON + COMBS; Jonus Ademovic, Assoc. AIA, and Chrostos Athanasiou — Principals, Archipelagos; Christopher Leong, Assoc. AIA, and Dominic Leong — Principals, Leong Leong; Kit von Dalwig, AIA, and Philipp von Dalwig, LEED AP — Principals, Manifold Architecture Studio; Michael Szivos — Partner, Softlab; Jing Liu — Co-Founder, SO-IL; Jeremy Barbour, AIA — Principal, Tacklebox
Moderator: Galia Solomonoff, AIA — Solomonoff Architecture Studio
Organizer: AIANY New Practices Committee
Sponsors: Lead Sponsors: Dornbracht; MG & Company; Valiant Technology; Sponsors: Espasso; Hafele; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Media Sponsor: The Architect’s Newspaper


Gyeonggi-do Jeongok Prehistory Museum, Yeoncheon-gun, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea


In its third iteration, AIANY’s New Practices New York competition recognized seven firms that exemplify innovation, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking. The founders of the winning firms — EASTON + COMBS, Archipelagos, Leong Leong, Manifold Architecture Studio, Softlab, SO-IL, and Tacklebox — have each dedicated their practices to collaborative models and novel inquiry. While their projects vary from retail interiors to bars and exhibition installations, the awarded practices share an interest in exploring architectural research, materiality, and production methods to inform their work.

To qualify for the New Practices competition, firms must have been established since 2004. It is the innovative strategies with which they design and investigate architecture that make them worthy of commendation. Jing Liu, co-founder of SO-IL, the designer of the PoleDance exhibition at MoMA’s P.S.1, recalled her firm’s initial work designing loft renovations. Liu said, “A good project often starts with a supportive client” who allows boundaries to be expanded and rules to be broken. Liu and her partner, Florian Idenburg, Intl. Assoc. AIA, aspire to interact with diverse clients and projects while ensuring the ideas are the front-runner in the office, rather than the status of their firm identity.

Trailblazers in their craft, this generation of designers represents not just new offices, observed Lonn Combs, co-founder of EASTON + COMBS, but new directions in design. It has been customary in the past for young designers to spend many years working under the auspices of starchitects and large firms and retaining employment within those firms. However, the norm has shifted to abandoning big name bragging rights to developing new practices that venerate experimentation. The rite of passage for young designers, according to Michael Szivos, partner at Softlab, is no longer passing through a well-known firm. It is opening up a firm of one’s own.

The New Practices New York exhibition is on view at The Center for Architecture through 10.23.10.

Jacqueline Pezzillo, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, is the communications manager at Davis Brody Bond Aedas and a regular contributor to e-Oculus.


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