After weeks spent accepting nominations and sifting through hundreds of talented designers, builders, and architects, Curbed is ready to announce the finalists of Young Guns 2014. All week long we've been rolling out the nominees. Our final faction: the Revivalists.
The remaining Young Guns 2014 finalists seek to revive design history and rejuvenate urban spaces. In this final bunch: someone looking at architecture of the past to create the city of the future, a finalist engineering relaxed "resi-mercial" environments, and an urbanist breathing new life into struggling neighborhoods.
Christopher James Alexander
Location: Los Angeles, California
What he does: Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design at The Getty Research Institute
What is it about the urban history of Los Angeles that you feel is important to share with visitors, and how do you engage the public in such a complex discussion?
"The city of L.A. is changing in interesting and sometimes challenging ways. What's been fascinating to see is that because there are these cycles of boom and bust coming out of the recession, projects that were stalled are now coming back online. I liken it to the boom in prosperity, interest, enthusiasm, and innovation that we saw in the post-war period of the 1950s. I think the exhibitions and initiatives that I've been a part of have been about understanding that the legacy and tradition of L.A. is always about experimentation, change, growth and trying new things. The material on view can act as a conduit to provoking people's own memories and associations. So with the Shulman exhibitions, you'd see people observing and enjoying the artistry of the photos, but then they'd be inspired to discuss having been there, or what it would be like to live in a midcentury modern house. For me, it's all about provoking that response and allowing people to share with one another. It's a social experience which I enjoy helping to cultivate."
Location: Detroit, Michigan
What she does: Architectural Interior Designer and Rainbow Choreographer at dPOP!
Currently, what do you think are the most important considerations in creating opportunities for better wellbeing at the workplace?
"We spend a third of our lives at work, and not everyone is as passionate about their jobs as we are. We want to make an environment that allows people to have a better day at work. For me, it's about creating a space that makes people happy when they come in every day, and makes them not hate their lives! Workdays are inherently getting longer. Because of technology, we're available all the time. I think one of the workplace trends is just creating an environment that's designed for humans, something that's comfortable. When you ask people where their favorite place to work is, a lot of them say they get the most done at their kitchen table, or laying up on the couch with their laptop. Whatever that environment may be, if that's where your employees are most creative and most efficient, that's what we need to give them at work."
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
What he does: Architect and Project Manager at Williams Architects
Do you modern architecture should be built within New Orleans historic districts?
"The layered history of the city is pretty incredible. Every neighborhood has a story because the infrastructure has existed for hundreds of years, and as a result, you have building types that are from all different eras. There's no doubt that the reason the city is so charismatic is because of that history and because of those old buildings and systems. But I definitely think there's a need and a responsibility to use modern systems in new construction, while respecting the context and scale of where we've been. To me, it's more offensive to try replicating something that's been done, that was beautiful, and in a lot of cases, now failing. I'm not doing what I'm doing to be different. It's because I think there might be a better answer."
Location: Detroit, Michigan
What he does: Architectural Designer at McIntosh Poris Associates
What is it about Detroit right now that makes it ripe for adaptive reuse projects?
"There are a lot of opportunities in a tradition-laden place like Detroit. Right now I'm working on a hotel that's a former fire department headquarters. When you get into the city, you find that there's a lot of unique attributes to buildings, and designers like to take advantage of that. We like to expose the past to make it part of the future. Personally, I really like small-scale adaptive reuse projects, taking a truly historic and unique building and turning it into something new. Sometimes people like to make the comparison that Detroit is a blank canvas and that is why it's becoming such an intriguing place. While I understand the implication, I feel that is somewhat disingenuous. I see the city as an incredibly rich canvas with layers upon layers of history, ingenuity, and cultural and societal landmarks. Every layer on that canvas of a building has a story to tell about its current condition. To me, the most intriguing part of practicing architecture in Detroit is in discovering how new architectural interventions interpret and respond to the current conditions."
· All Young Guns 2014 posts [Curbed National]