• The Architects Collaborative 1945–1995: Tracing a Diffuse Architectural Authorship
    Gabriel Cira and James Heard
    pinkcomma gallery, Boston
    Dec 03, 2021 to Feb 23, 2022
    Keller Gallery, Cambridge
    Feb 28, 2022 to Apr 15, 2022
    Gabriel Cira & James Heard

Detail of Children's Hospital and Inn model by Emma Pfeiffer, "The Architects Collaborative 1945–1995: Tracing a Diffuse Architectural Authorship" installed at Keller Gallery, Cambridge, 2022. Photo: Daisy Zhang

This gallery exhibition and accompanying digital wiki tool displays and makes accessible the authors’ significant original documentation, mapping, and historical study of the vast architectural output of The Architects Collaborative (TAC). The authors have combed archives, historical architectural publications, office records, property databases, genealogy tools, and many other sources to compile and geotag hundreds of previously-unpublished built projects by TAC. This body of work shows the normalization of radical precepts of modernism into vernacular, especially in the building types of schools, housing, and healthcare. Founded in 1945 by eight equal partners, TAC was the largest exclusively architectural office in the US by the 1970s. Their internal record lists about 1,500 jobs (194583), although only a handful of these are commonly known. This project seeks to trace the mainstreaming of the subtly political modernism that the group so carefully used to both erase as style and embrace as philosophy.

Gabriel Cira is a licensed architect and historic preservation consultant based in Massachusetts. He is a professor in the History of Art program at MassArt, where he teaches the longstanding Architecture of Boston course and other architecture and art history seminars, and he has previously taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Tokyo. Cira’s work and research focus on historic preservation, vernacular/popular histories, ecological design, accessibility and preservation, and infrastructure history. He is also a project organizer for The Architecture Lobby’s Cooperative Network project, a group that works on the transformative power of collaborative and cooperative modes of practice and firm ownership in architecture.

James Heard received his BArch at Virginia Tech and SMArchS with a focus in history, theory, and criticism at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His master's thesis, "Professionals in a Soviet America": Federal Housing Policy, the Popular Front, and Architects in Los Angeles, 1919–1947, explores the intersection of housing policy discourse and activism in Southern California. He is a member of the Boston chapter of The Architecture Lobby and was the organization's former national design coordinator. In addition to being an historian, he is a licensed architect and has practiced in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles.