The Academy and the Coffee Table
As we put our nose to the grindstone in preparation for this summer’s Venice Biennale, we were reminded that we had not yet announced two influential publications we were featured in last year. Archive: Design Biennial Boston by the amazing curators and designers over,under / pinkcomma and Contemporary Architects Boston, by the prolific award winning author E. Ashley Rooney allowed us to proudly show-off our work as two sides of the same coin. The former book is as much about the academy as it is about practice. Inaugurated in 2008, Design Biennial Boston has “curated a space for recognition and discussion of Boston’s emerging design practices.” Like us, many of the participants are hybrid educators-practitioners that work to push the construction and discourse of architecture. Our featured projects include the White Block Gallery, Island of Water, and Clover Harvard Square, as examples that innovate spatially, environmentally, and procedurally.
An entirely different set of projects are featured in Contemporary Architects Boston. While the previous book points toward future-forward emerging ideas, this seductive ‘coffee table’ volume focuses on the present tense – what the shape of contemporary design in Boston is today. Our featured projects such as the Braver House, Coulter House, and Big Dig House, are prototypes in how to re-think materials, constructed nature, energy, and collective spaces.
We are proud that our work is being received in multiple ways but bridging between the ‘academy and the coffee table,’ is not necessarily an explicit goal for us. We in fact feel ambivalent about the larger polarities that have both fostered but now stifle the culture of architecture such as ‘service’ vs. ‘design’ firm, ‘mainstream’ vs. ‘radical,’ and ‘academic’ vs. ‘practice oriented.’ As architecture takes on new hybrid roles, we hope to prove that these categorical silos are obsolete memes. Instead we search for more convergent ways forward that challenge through inspiration… (stay tuned for Venice!)