Interboro is pleased to announce that it has won the Architectural League of New York’s Young Architects Forum. The theme this year was “Situating.” Interboro’s 250-word essay on how the theme relates to its portfolio, entitled “Inside the Oligopticon,” is pasted below. Inside the Oligopticon We’ve become experts in entropy. Or so it would seem. We won two competitions last year: one about a dead mall, and another about a shrinking city. We should be terribly cynical by now. But somehow, we’ve never been so optimistic. We think it has something to do with this: when we looked closely at our respective sites, we felt a pulse where others felt none. While others weaved narratives of sickness and death out of abandoned storefronts, overgrown parking lots, and weathered murals, we learned – by listening to people on the ground – that the very same phenomena can be conditions for new and exciting kinds of life. These are the sorts of things you learn when you situate yourself on the ground. If architects and planners sometimes strive for a totalizing, comprehensive view, we strive to embrace the seeming infinity of conflicting, partial views. We’ve abandoned the panoptic for the “oligoptic,” to borrow a word from Bruno Latour. This has enabled us to empathize with an enormous variety of frameworks, logics, and disciplines (including sociology, geography, and real estate finance), as well as situate ourselves in many (contradictory) roles. Sometimes we’re ghostwriters, identifying and legitimizing the sorts of things that people – acting out of self-interest, and with little formal education – have already done. Other times, we are cultivators, intensifying these spontaneous, “bottom up” tactics, combining them, and adding value in sensitive and surprising ways. In other instances, we might strive to empathize with a real estate developer. Situating ourselves inside the oligopticon has also enabled us to engage with – indeed embrace – the uncertainty of the future. Always there are factors bigger than us to influence what a place comes to mean and how it will be used. The projects that follow are about structuring possibility.