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.
For generations, if not centuries, architectural culture has been marked by a tension between strong and weak definitions of its identity and value as a discipline. Perpetually destabilized by the on-going processes of modernization—by transformations in society and material culture which are unpredictable but on which architecture remains contingent—this disciplinary weakness may in fact be its greatest asset. While its pragmatic know-how adapts readily and quietly—although often too slowly—to change, its discursive apparatus remains disoriented, looking eagerly to all things non-architectural for guidance and validation.
Michael Meredith’s satirical manifesto, Notes for those Beginning the Discipline of Architecture, stages this tension and uncertainty as a heroic-pathetic dialogue, splitting the architect into two opposing personas unable to communicate with one another. The designer-maker is largely deferential and dumbfounded, not to say dumb, while the theorist-intellectual condescendingly berates him with questions for which there are no answers and answers for which there are no questions. Accepting this pathology as constitutive may indeed be the basis for a more modest and limited, yet also more generous, incisive and even lighthearted conception of the architect today than those afforded us in the past.
University of Pennsylvania
February 8, 2006