Common Room at Metropolitan Exchanges

01-25-2008

Last night, Interboro and The Metropolitan Exchange hosted the inaugural event of a new discussion series called “Metropolitan Exchanges.” The idea behind “Metropolitan Exchanges” is pretty simple; we’d like to offer an opportunity for design professionals and scholars to present works-in-progress to an audience of peers. The hope is that the events won’t be lectures so much as discussions, and that the events will be as useful for the presenters as they are for the audience. Towards this, we emphasize a “30+60=90” rule: 30 minutes of presentation, 60 minutes of discussion. Last night’s inaugural event featured a talk by Common Room, a three-person firm that works out of a Herman Jessor-designed office in Co-op Village. The talk, entitled “Provisional Practice,” was to be “understood as a dialog that explores the contingent relationship of workplace to community.” How appropriate, given what we’re trying to do with the Metropolitan Exchange! The firm’s three partners, Lars Fisher, Maria Ibanez, and Todd Ruhe talked about a diversity of projects, from a Co-op Village apartment interior, to a site plan for a residential cluster development upstate, to “Common Room 2,” the gallery that the firm runs out of their building’s lobby. (Interboro had an exhibit there in 2007.) The post-talk discussion was healthy, with questions ranging Ana Miljacki wanted to know why Common Room invoked Team X when discussing the relationship of work to community (Anna thought it nostalgic). Olympia Karzi offered up some firms who were similarly interested in “engagement.” Michael Piper wanted to know how the firm’s interiors anticipate and / or respond to their users. Interboro pointed out that Common Room has an exceptional opportunity to expand the role of the architect, given that their clients brought them in at an unusually early time. Bill Menking followed with a very provocative question: why shouldn’t architects just do architecture? This question reminded Interboro that the burden of proof is with the “expanded” architect who wants to, say, influence more than a merely formal outcome. All in all, it was a very metropolitan exchange! Many thanks to the presenters, and to everyone who came out. We’re currently putting together a calendar of future events. Stay tuned!

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