New York’s Center for Architecture launches a residency lab to broaden diversity

Indigenous Futurism

New York’s Center for Architecture launches a residency lab to broaden diversity

The Center for Architecture remains closed, but its digital initiatives are ramping up (Courtesy the Center for Architecture)

Manhattan’s Center for Architecture may still be closed to visitors as AIA offices weather the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped the AIANY from ramping up their online initiatives. Yesterday, April 15, the Center for Architecture announced it was launching the Center for Architecture Lab, a digital residency that, according to the center, will help “elevate underrepresented perspectives.”

What does that mean, exactly? In an attempt to diversify the field in response to a year of (still ongoing) protests across the United States motivated by racial justice and killings by police, and the (also ongoing) COVID lockdowns, the center has named the Indigenous Scholars of Architecture, Planning and Design (ISAPD) at the Yale School of Architecture as inaugural lab residents. The ISAPD is a student group at Yale whose members want to broaden the knowledge of Indigenous architecture, design, and planning among the broader Yale community, and the Center for Architecture Lab will give them that opportunity.

“The Center for Architecture Lab is an exciting new initiative for our institution, born out of the constraints of the pandemic,” said AIANY and Center for Architecture executive director Benjamin Prosky, in the press announcement. “In 2020, as we were forced to shut our galleries and meeting spaces, we sought to find new ways to engage our constituents with compelling content outside of the traditional exhibition model. We also sought meaningful ways to amplify the work of BIPOC individuals and organizations in the design field, particularly those who may not have been present at the Center for Architecture in the past. Our Lab is a fantastic model for this type of engagement, and we look to expand the program’s scope and impact in the future.”

From May 10 through July 23, the first cohort of Anjelica Gallegos and Summer Sutton will explore Indigenous Futurism, using science fiction and speculative futures to frame architectural issues affecting Indigenous communities, colonization, and the use of the cultural center as a way to preserve Indigenous heritage and techniques. Each resident will receive a stipend and full access to the center’s connections of established architects as well as hosting digital takeovers of the center’s online programming, social media, and email to engage those in the architecture and design communities and present new narratives. The center will also offer Sutton and Gallegos staff support.

The lab’s second set of residents and theme will be announced later this June. Gallegos and Sutton were chosen by the Center for Architecture Lab Advisory Committee, which consists of:

  • Barry Bergdoll, Hon. AIANY, president of the Center for Architecture; Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University
  • Mark Gardner, AIA, NOMA, principal of Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects; assistant professor of Architectural Practice and Society at Parsons, The New School for Design
  • Christine Gaspar, executive director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy
  • Ken Lum, cofounder and chief curatorial advisor of the Monument Lab
  • Shawhin Roudbari, Dissent x Design, assistant professor of the Program in Environmental Design at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Jennifer Sage, FAIA, partner at Sage and Coombe