At the upcoming 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, the United States pavilion will set the stage for OfficeUs, a project by New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture and PRAXIS. OfficeUs provides an intellectual sandbox to understand the past and future ways in which every architecture office, big and small, corporate and ‘avant-garde’, contributes to the global architectural unconscious of economic, social and political forms. Last week the project was announced with a big bang during a press conference in New York.
The exhibition OfficeUs: Criticism by Re-Making will feature a working architecture office exploring 1000 projects from 100 years of American design history. Focusing on the wide tradition of American architecture, curators Eva Franch i Gilabert, Ana Miljački and Ashley Schafer interpret the by Rem Koolhaas defined main theme of the 14th biennale, Fundamentals, in a rather historical way. The project takes the visitor on a trip to the very core of the American architecture tradition.
The curatorial trio re-imagines the US Pavilion as an active, experimental architectural office that researches, studies, and remakes 1000 projects designed by American architecture firms and exported abroad. As explained by the curators, “the United States is one of the greatest exporters of culture; its film, music and art penetrate every corner of the world. Less recognized is the export of American architecture — a mixture of modernity and nationalism that is designed to become a permanent fixture of someone else’s built environment.”
“Museums and history books present the last century of American architecture as one of singular buildings and singular figures”, says curator Franch-Miljački-Schafer, “but there is a parallel history of US designed buildings sprinkled throughout the world that remains under-examined. These are the buildings we are interested in, together with the offices that produced them.” The installation contains two interrelated components. The Repository, on the one hand, is an exhibition archive of 1000 projects of American architecture from the last 100 years abroad. The Office, on the other hand, is a laboratory of diverse individuals with the mission to critically remake and reinterpret the material in the Repository.