July 20, 2010

At the New Practices New York 2010: Jury’s Symposium, juror Joe MacDonald, Assoc. AIA, commented that he was surprised to see so much built work among entries (see “New Practices New York Gauges Seven Emerging Firms,” by Murrye Bernard, LEED AP, e-Oculus, 05.18.10). After viewing the exhibition, now on view at the Center for Architecture until 10.23.10, it is reassuring to me that new practices are not turning their back to architecture. Rather, they are finding ways to practice — and actually build things — albeit at a smaller scale.

Perhaps the reason firms are able to complete projects is because they are becoming collectives rather than hierarchical entities. Gone are the days of the individual mastermind heading a firm when it comes to new practices. With names like Tacklebox, Manifold, SOFTlab, and Archipelagos, one does not associate the firm’s work with one principal. Even EASTON + COMBS and Leong Leong, firms synonymous with the owners, imply an equal collaboration between two individuals.

At a time when firms are struggling to find work, the New Practices New York exhibition seems to prove that collaborations will bring about built work. When a group of professionals come together to work on a project, they bring their range of experiences, strengths, abilities… and contacts. The power of the collective is surpassing that of the individual, which speaks volumes about how practice is changing, I think, for the better. I am looking forward to hearing from the winning firms themselves on 07.29.10 at the Winners’ Panel Discussion.


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