If given the choice between staring blankly into space or reading architects’ office statements on their website, we choose the first. They all say the same thing: we’re sustainable, responsible with budgets, experienced, award-winning, etc. . . . The game seems to be how to say nothing in particular and comfort any worries of someone contemplating hiring you. After a few clicks, it’s hard not to think that all this quote-unquote professionalism is very cold at its core. We can’t tell you exactly when MOS started. We like to say it was 2003, but we didn’t have an office space then and our name was !@#?, which we quickly found was too difficult to use because 1. you couldn’t pronounce it and 2. you couldn’t get a web address. So, eventually, we drifted towards MOS—an acronym of our names and reflection of a shared desire to be horizontal and fuzzy, as opposed to tall and shiny. We began around an oversized table, a surface for collecting, gathering, and working through a range of design experiments—a make-believe of architectural fantasies, problems, and thoughts. As we’ve grown, we remain around a large table, working together on each project through playful experimentation and serious research. This website indexes that work: housing; schools; houses; cultural institutions; retail; exhibition design; installations; furniture; objects; books; writing; software experiments; and videos.
Krabbesholm Højskole (Denmark) is awarded an AIA NY Excellence Award
MOS Architects receive an AIA New York Award of Merit for Element House
We draw, talk, email, doodle, diagram, render, print, print, draw, model, receive, distribute, call, approve, confirm, reject, plead, deny, laugh, export, import, present, listen, order, zoom, script, post, pan, copy, paste, scale, collate, staple, eat, list, drink, walk, draw, chat, meet, photograph, crop, calculate, draw, adjust, tweak, sip, solve, stack, note, organize, scan, edit, review, print, question, comment, make, sketch . . . and occasionally, we collect things from this process and store them in a flat file.
This house is built into the hill-side of one of Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes. On approach from the top of the hill, the sloped roof becomes the primary image of the house. The house appears as almost a generic, white, vernacular house. It echoes nearby agricultural buildings. Its white roof and walls reflect sunlight to reduce solar heat gain during the summer months. The pitched roof is elongated to mirror the slope of the site and frame the view toward the lake. An open light well brings natural light and air into what is typically the darkest part of the house, while also allowing snow, rain, and fog to occupy the house’s center. This central void provides passive ventilation by pulling air up into the house while bringing light and air into the basement, allowing for an additional guest room.
After The End.
We were taught to dismantle things, to take buildings apart piece by piece in order to look at their makeup. . . . Were schooled in techniques of indecision, formal analysis, cultural criticism, theory, diagram, filmic operation, animation, scripting, didactic process: the disciplinary narratives of the neo-avant-garde. Our teachers were masters of instability, doubt and meaninglessness. Nothing was more important than nothing. Solidity was sublimated. Ground was displaced. Structure and gravity were non-topics. Building codes were too boring to be bothered with. Familiarity required systematic acts of defamiliarization. The vernacular wasn’t considered architecture, better to be ignored. Architecture, like art, was a problem of overcoming the horror of individual will, idiosyncrasy, and expressionism. So we were taught to make machines and elude ourselves with their inhuman techniques and autonomous systems. Everything was flawed from the outset. Never say “I,” always use the third person. Don’t take criticism personally. Don’t try to solve social problems (they are not the problems of architecture). Use “void” whenever and as much as possible. Architecture is the history of representation, of abstraction through mediums. (Think perspective, orthographic projection [i.e. plans], axonometry, collage, photography, digital models, rendering, etc.). Avoid commerce. Don’t think about architecture through skills, craft, physicality, or the base materialism of buildings (these are so-called vocational concerns, not disciplinary or conceptual problems).
In this way, we were sucked into a neurotic black hole, seduced by academic games of negation, anti-architecture. Although we loved and love playing amongst the smoldering ruins, eventually (perhaps out of sheer exhaustion) it seemed that our problem became the exact opposite of the one laid out by our teachers: to collect and gather the leftovers from the neo-avant-garde and attempt to weld them back together. To engage the world, the real, gravity, craft, economy, commerce, data, the generic, and the vernacular all while still acknowledging and employing the disciplinary history handed down to us. We settled into a space that oscillates between the real and the representational. When we started our office, there was no need to further dismantle architecture, it was already game over. We felt we were tasked to start again, to produce and assemble an architecture of collected fragments and overturned bits, everything made available to us within the diffuse field of dead ends we grew up within.
Project Team: Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample