Meet the New Practices

Meet the New Practices

We let you know about the exhibition, and now this year’s AIANY New Practices New York lecture series is kicking into gear following formlessfinder’s presentation late last month and a winner’s roundtable Monday night. The discussion was moderated by Dan Wood and Troy Therrien and included New Practices honorees Christian Wassmann, Amanda Schachter of SLO Architecture, Emily Abruzzo of ABRUZZO BODZIAK ARCHITECTS, Julian Rose of formlessfinder, and David Benjamin of The Living. The lecture series, featuring a presentation and discussion of each firm’s work, is held at the Axor/Hansgrohe showroom in the Meatpacking District and will continue through January.

First up was formlessfinder, the team of Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose. Ricciardi earned his BFA from Cooper Union and Rose received a BA from Harvard in Art and Architectural History before both receiving Masters of Architecture from Princeton. The team has a critical approach to architecture that reflects their academic backgrounds, exploring the fundamental relationships between form and material.

The name, since you’re wondering, derives from the philosopher Georges Bataille’s notion of the formless and his critique of the limiting and imposing nature of form. Formlessness describes a conception of architecture that is not limited by the historical and symbolic weight of materials; put simply, says Ricciardi, “architecture shouldn’t have to look like architecture.” The team investigates the physical limitations and possibilities of raw matter as architectural tool, using feedback from material tests to explore and inform structure.

formlessfinder exploits building material with an understanding of sustainability that approaches building as inherently environmental. Rose explains, “sustainability leaves no surface safe,” and the symbolic appeal of a “green” material like bamboo is outweighed by the environmental cost of shipping it across the globe. Their short-listed PS1 pavilion proposed arches made from an inexpensive erosion-control geotextile that are filled with gravel at the bases and foam cubes curving above, an intentionally inefficient use of material, but can be almost entirely sourced close to the site.

Monday’s roundtable discussion, held at the Center for Architecture, involved a short introduction from each of the firms followed by group discussion about the firms’ multidisciplinary outlooks, manipulation of technology, and metrics of success. Many of the works presented were speculative investigations of material and form, such as formlessfinder’s aforementioned material tests and ABRUZZO BODZIAK’s Peaks & Valleys shading system.

Of the built works presented, most were small-scale and more research-oriented than purely architectural, such as The Living’s Living Light canopy in Seoul that displays real-time information about the city’s air quality. SLO researched environmental and social impacts of development along the Bronx River, creating a model of the watershed from reclaimed material that includes historical ecology and infrastructure, then ferrying it up the river with kayaks. While the lack of larger-scale commissioned work is an effect of the commercial climate, all firms have high ambitions; in defining success, Christian Wassman said, “I don’t want to be a big architect, I want to be an influential one.”

AIANY will continue New Practices New York programs with several guided exhibition tours in July and August, while the lecture series will return September 27 with SLO Architecture and run through January. Below is the complete lecture schedule. We’ll see you there!

Presentation and Conversation with SLO Architecture
Thursday September 27th, 2012, 6-8 PM, Axor NYC

Presentation and Conversation with HOLLER architecture
Tuesday October 16th, 2012, 6-8 PM, Axor NYC

Presentation and Conversation with ABRUZZO BODZIAK ARCHITECTS
Thursday November 15th, 2012, 6-8 PM, Axor NYC

Presentation and Conversation with Christian Wassmann 
Thursday December 13th, 2012, 6-8 PM, Axor NYC

Presentation and Conversation with The Living
January TBA, 2013, 6-8 PM,  Axor NYC