OfficeUS Conference Room, US Pavilion at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale, 2014. Courtesy of David Sundberg/Esto.
The past century of American architecture is a story of expertise, exchange, and export. According to Building Design's 2013 study, "World Architecture 100," five out of the ten largest global architectural firms are based in the United States, making the United States one of world's biggest exporters of architecture. While an export economy of goods and ideas is endemic to contemporary life, its architectural dimension has a longer history. From the European importation of American architectural ingenuity in the 1910s and 1920s and the Marshall plan's architectural campaign in the 1940s to the oil-fueled Latin American and Middle Eastern projects of the 1970s, the forms, technologies, production processes, and methods of the US architectural office have populated the globe. OfficeUS is an evolving installation that reframes the history of American architecture through the lens of expertise, exchange, and export in two interrelated constructs: The Office and The Repository. The Repository documents 1,001 projects from the last one-hundred years designed by US offices working abroad. Collectively these projects tell multiple, imbricated stories of America's firms, typologies, and technologies, as well as a broader narrative of American modernization's global reach. The Office engages these same projects, remaking them over the course of the Venice Biennale. It functions as a laboratory staffed by a diverse cast of individuals, including five resident design fellows, who will collaborate with outpost offices and an ever-changing cast of expert critic-consultants. Together, these two halves of OfficeUS create both a historical record of the American contribution to global architectural thought and a petri dish in which that record is submitted to contemporary agents of disruption, critique, pessimism, and optimism.
Eva Franch i Gilabert is a utopianizer and architect. Franch has served as the executive director and chief curator of Storefront for Art and Architecture since 2010. Franch's work focuses on methods of production and disruption in the construction and understanding of history and public life.
Ana Miljački is a critic, curator, educator, and historian of architecture based at MIT. She holds a PhD in the history and theory of architecture from Harvard University, an MArch from Rice University, and a BA from Bennington College. Her research interests range from the role of architecture and architects in Cold War–era Eastern Europe through theories of postmodernism in late socialism to the politics of contemporary architectural production.
Ashley Schafer is a writer, designer, educator, and registered architect who has lectured and published internationally. Since 1999, she has worked as cofounder and coeditor of PRAXIS, a journal of American architecture. Her research lies at the connection of contemporary architecture, urbanism, landscape, history, technology, and practice. An associate professor of architecture at the Ohio State University, Schafer was head of architecture from 2005 to 2009.
Founded in 1982, Storefront for Art and Architecture is a nonprofit organization committed to the advancement of innovative positions in architecture, art, and design. Our program of exhibitions, artists talks, film screenings, conferences, and publications is intended to generate dialogue and collaboration across geographic, ideological, and disciplinary boundaries. As a public forum for emerging voices, Storefront explores vital issues in art and architecture with the intent of increasing awareness of and interest in contemporary design.