• Architecture is Never Neutral: The Work of MASS Design Group
    G. Martin Moeller Jr.
    National Building Museum, Washington
    Mar 14, 2020 to Mar 20, 2021
    National Building Museum

MASS Design Group, Butaro Doctors’ Housing, Burera District, Rwanda. Photo: Iwan Baan.

Showcasing the work of MASS Design Group, a firm that derives its name from the motto “A Model of Architecture Serving Society,” this exhibition explores the implications of MASS’s unique business model, assesses the success and influence of the firm’s completed design and research projects, and consider how MASS’s impact-based design methodology might inspire more socially-conscious strategies throughout the design and building industry. Founded in 2008, the nonprofit firm’s unusual business structure not only allows it to undertake projects that traditional architecture firms might find untenable, but also enables it to prioritize social benefits for users over financial returns for developers or investors. The National Building Museum believes MASS’s model of practice is poised to disrupt common assumptions about current design and building practices.

G. Martin Moeller, Jr., exhibition curator, is the National Building Museum’s senior curator, and an independent curator and writer. He has curated acclaimed exhibitions including Secret Cities: The Architecture and Planning of the Manhattan Project; Unbuilt Washington; and Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete. He was coordinating curator for several major traveling exhibitions including Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990; and Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future. Working independently, Moeller wrote the two most recent editions of the AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 2006 and 2012, respectively. Moeller holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Tulane University.

Cathy Crane Frankel, vice president of exhibitions and collections, leads the curatorial team to develop the Museum’s exhibition program and coordinates the production of the Museum’s exhibitions. She directed the acclaimed series of ambitious exhibitions focusing on sustainability and the built environment, and history-based exhibitions such as House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage. As a member of the Museum’s senior staff, Ms. Frankel participates in the Museum’s long-term and strategic planning. Ms. Frankel has a master’s from the George Washington University and a bachelor’s from Dickinson College.

The National Building Museum’s mission is to inspire curiosity in the world we design and build. Established by an act of Congress in 1980, and opened in 1985, the National Building Museum is the country’s only cultural institution illuminating what, how, and why we build. Housed in a magnificent 1887 edifice modeled after the Renaissance-era Palazzo Farnese, the Museum tells timely and important stories that educate, inspire, and empower visitors. The Museum presents original exhibitions and dynamic educational programs that attract more than 500,000 visitors annually, including children and families, school groups and teachers, and emerging and established design professionals.