2024 Architectural League Prize winners respond to how practice, objects, and nature can be less sanitized

Dishing the Dirt

2024 Architectural League Prize winners respond to how practice, objects, and nature can be less sanitized

Communicating Structures, Jungle of Hoops by Anomima (Oswaldo Ramírez & Anonima)

The Architectural League of New York announced today this year’s winners of the Architectural League Prize, now in its 43rd iteration. Dirty was the theme which guided this year’s competition, which asked designers to consider ways in which practice, objects, and nature can be made less sanitized. The winners each represent practitioners who “look beyond their presentations of professionalism, respectability, and expertise,” the Architectural League stated.

The 2024 Architectural League Prize winners come from the arenas of professional practice, publishing, and academia. They include: University of Utah professor Leah Wulfman; Columbia University GSAPP’s Lola Ben-Alon; Erik Carranza of Anomima, a Mexico City studio; Strat Coffman, a recent Taubman Fellow; Chase Galis, Christina Moushoul, and Sonia Sobrino Ralston, cofounders of Office Party; and Partners of Place (POP) cofounders Rayshad Dorsey, Joseph James, Diego Zubizarreta Otero, Julian Owens, and Michael Urueta.

Past winners were among this year’s jurors including Sarah Aziz, Rodrigo Escandón Cesarman, Maggie Tsang, Julie Bargmann, Ersela Kripa, Ann Lui, and Ben Nicholson. This year’s theme of Dirty follows up on last year’s, Uncomfortable, which similarly touched on ideas that could be perceived as dark, but most definitely spark dialogue and provoke thought and innovation.

The brief provided by the Architectural League to competition entrants stated: “Dirt is matter: it is the soil, the ground, and the earth. But when dirt makes things dirty, they become unclean. To be dirty is not only a physical state of being; it is a moral position, as “dirty” subjects are understood to be vulgar, illicit, unpleasant, and improper. If cleanliness is next to godliness, dirtiness is debased. […] We prompt designers to expose the forces that shape design practice, projects, modes of representation, and communication. It’s time to dish the dirt… How do you reject sanitized ways of working with built, natural, and political environments? Show us your dirty ways and dirty things.”

Beginning June 13, winners will showcase their work through an online lecture series and exhibition. Below are images of projects by 2024 League Prize winners, accompanied by short practice profiles as provided by the League, and further information about the 2024 League Prize Lecture series.

people on chairs watching a screen
EX-CHANGE2021 by Leah Wulfman/Studio ElanaSchlenker at Carnegie Mellon (Leah Wulfman/Courtesy The Architectural League of New York)

Leah Wulfman | University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)

“Traversing physical and digital realms, Leah Wulfman’s practice develops non-normative uses and misuses of spatial technologies. Currently located in Salt Lake City, Wulfman adapts the systems and logic of architecture and game forms for purposes of embodied physicality, play and performance. Wulfman’s installations integrate digital tools such as AI and video game engines with material counterparts of dirt, weeds, trash, plastic and foam. According to Wulfman, their work elucidates mixed reality as not simply THE NEXT BIG THING but a method of working that undercuts binary assumptions of gender and physicality, as well as technology.’”

natural materials lab project
The [EAT MEBUILD ME] Project by Lola Ben-Alon (Lola Ben-Alon/Courtesy The Architectural League of New York)

Lola Ben-Alon | The Natural Materials Lab | Columbia GSAPP (New York)

“The Natural Materials Lab, founded and directed by Lola Ben-Alon, investigates raw, earth, and fiber-based building materials across scales, from fabrication research and design/build projects to policy investigations and installations. The Lab, located at Columbia University GSAPP, unites experimental research with Ben-Alon’s teaching practice. Integrating emergent technologies with historical techniques, the Natural Materials Lab leverages material experimentation to “imagine and invent socially equitable and ecologically sustainable futures,” in the studio’s own words.”

Erik Carranza | Anonima (Mexico City)

“Erik Carranza founded Anonima with Sindy Martínez Lortia in 2007. Based in Mexico City and Oaxaca City, the multidisciplinary studio engages in both design and research projects related to urban spatial practices, ranging across scales from street-level interventions to institutional built work to advocacy campaigns. Across this diverse portfolio, Anonima explores the ways in which architecture creates relationships between human beings and place while maintaining a “playful character” in all projects, according to the studio.”

plants under a disco
Garden Party at Harvard ARTS FIRST Festival (Office Party/Courtesy The Architectural League of New York)

Chase Galis, Christina Moushoul, Sonia Sobrino Ralston | Office Party (New York)

“Chase Galis, Christina Moushoul, and Sonia Sobrino Ralston founded Office Party in 2021. The research and design collective produces temporary events, installations, and exhibitions internationally that investigate “the role of parties and similar ephemeral spaces as the origin of complex social and material networks with urban, political, and environmental effects,” in the firm’s own words. In addition to live events, Office Party publishes written and editorial work, such as the collective’s journal Party Planner, further exploring the concept of parties with interdisciplinary collaborators across media formats.”

a collage of photos of houses and people
Patchwork: A Black + Rural Homecoming (Partners of Place/Courtesy The Architectural League of New York)

Rayshad Dorsey, Joseph James, Diego Zubizarreta Otero, Julian Owens, Michael Urueta | Partners of Place (Greenville, and Charleston, South Carolina; New York City; Austin; Washington, D.C.)

“Partners of Place was established in 2023 by its five members: Rayshad Dorsey, Joseph James, Diego Zubizarreta Otero, Julian Owens, and Michael Urueta. The research, ideation, and design collective focuses on issues of social and environmental equity. Partners of Place’s speculative designs imagine a more inclusive future. Throughout their projects, the collective proposes interventions into the built environment contextualized by the social sciences, using techniques of data visualization, historical mapping, and storytelling.”

person touching hands
Erotica Generica, Touch Points (Strat Coffman/Courtesy The Architectural League of New York)

Strat Coffman (Ann Arbor, Michigan and Los Angeles)

“Trained as an architect, Strat Coffman’s work explores the concept of “the embodied subject as an agitator of design,” in the designer’s own words. Currently located in both Ann Arbor and Los Angeles, Coffman’s practice incorporates installation, set pieces, guerilla performance, and wearable garments. Their provocative objects and installations engage the live body, often tactilely, in new orientations toward systems of design such as building codes and generic products, inviting, in Coffman’s words, “misinterpretation, readjustment, and misuse.”

The 2023 League Prize Virtual Lecture Series

June 13:

Lola Ben-Alon
Strat Coffman
Moderated by Rodrigo Escandón Cesarman

June 20:

Erik Carranza
Leah Wulfman
Moderated by Maggie Tsang

June 27:

Chase Galis, Christina Moushoul, Sonia Sobrino Ralston
Rayshad Dorsey, Joseph James, Diego Zubizarreta Otero, Julian Owens, Michael Urueta
Moderated by Sarah Aziz