WELCOMING A NEW CHARACTER
Issue statement by Iker Gil, editor in chief of MAS Context
At long last, I introduce to you our Character issue, our collaboration with Chicago-based Design With Company. It is an issue that has taken us longer than usual to produce but one that we hope was worth the wait. Our ambition is to publish relevant and unique content and to do so sometimes requires more time and resources than anticipated. For that reason, we appreciate your patience and we hope that you consider purchasing a print copy of the issue and/or making a donation to support future publications and events.
Character marks the fifth collaboration of MAS Context with a guest editor. Our collaborations have developed from a series of conversations and shared interests that ultimately grew into the opportunity to explore specific topics in depth. For this issue, we are excited to collaborate with Design With Company, the studio founded in 2010 by Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer. Together, Hicks and Newmeyer have been recognized as Next Progressives by Architect Magazine, New Talents by Metropolis Magazine, and Chicago’s Next Generation by Architectural Record. Their work explores the territory between the architectural and the literary, real and unreal, mundane and fantastic. After publishing the work of Design With Company on multiple occasions—the first in our 2011 issue Speed—and organizing talks with them, we decided that this was the right moment to tackle the topic of Character in architecture and in relationship to their practice. As Hicks and Newmeyer say, “we want our constructions to be characters in the theater of everyday life, not just settings or passive containers of activity.” Ultimately, the topic was approached and organized in three separate but complementary sections: user as character, building as character, and architect as character. Each of these is explored in multiple formats (stories, screenplays, chronologies, conversations, fictions…) that establish connections across practices, places, generations, references, and influences. In addition to our guest editors, we collaborated with Jimmy Luu, graphic designer and design educator based out of Austin, Texas, to help shape the identity of this issue.
Our guest-edited issues illustrate a larger ambition of MAS Context: to create a structure to support our contributors and their work. These issues become vehicles for explorations of topics that emerge from the work of our guest editors and that extend into conversations with colleagues, helping them to expand and challenge their approaches. Similarly, many MAS Context events are continuations of contributions that initially appeared as essays. Lectures, book launches, panel discussions, exhibitions, installations, archive explorations, and gatherings of all kinds take the essay into the public arena, opening new conversations and engaging different audiences. We think that creating and supporting these structures are vital for practices to flourish and evolve in a fertile environment.
We hope that this issue expands your notion of Character and that, in whatever capacity, you become a participant and/or enabler of these structures that nurture the work of others.
Our Character issue has had invaluable help from Ellie Abrons, Joseph Altshuler, Jon Astbury, Gem Barton, Vladimir Belogolovsky, Michelle Benoit, Maite Borjabad, Jimmy Carter, Andrew Clark, André Corrêa, Solenne Coutagne, Lucy Ellis, Uriel Fogué, Grant Gibson, Loes Gieles, Iker Gil, Aiden Glynn, Roberto González, Joanna Grant, Jason Griffiths, Brian Guido, Andrew Holder, Sam Jacob, Julia Jamrozik, Andrés Jaque, Max Jarosz, Ania Jaworska, Maria Jerez, Eu Jin Lim, Zoe Kauder Nalebuff, Coryn Kempster, Nicole Kienhuis, Anna Koster-van Dorp, Jimenez Lai, Louise Lemoine, John McMorrough, Julia McMorrough, Michael Meredith, Julie Michiels, Ciro Miguel, Laura Mora, Daniel Norell, Zach Ostrowski, Nathaniel Parks, Joanne Preston, Pamela Quick, Paul Redmond, Alex Retegan, Bud Rodecker, Einar Rodhe, Paul Ruppert, Adrian Shaughnessy, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, Joshua G. Stein, Stanley Tigerman, Tania Tovar Torres, and Rick Valicenti.
We are very grateful to Jimmy Luu, Amy Tondre, and Amy Truong for the design of the issue. It was fantastic to work with them and experiment with what it means to bring character to a publication.
And a special thank you goes to our guest editors Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer of Design With Company who introduced us to their world and helped us explore architecture in new ways. We have witnessed how their studio has evolved in the last few years and it was fantastic to look at their approach to architecture in relationship to the work of some of their peers in this issue.
Iker Gil is an architect, urban designer, and director of MAS Studio. In addition, he is the editor in chief of MAS Context and the Executive Director of the SOM Foundation. He is the editor of the book Shanghai Transforming (ACTAR, 2008) and has curated several exhibitions, including “BOLD: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago” as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. He is the recipient of the 2010 Emerging Visions Award from the Chicago Architectural Club and has been recognized as one of “Fifty Under Fifty: Innovators of the 21st Century” by a jury composed by Stanley Tigerman, Jeanne Gang, Qingyun Ma, and Marion Weiss.
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