Architecture for Everyone: GSD Open House Lecture

Interboro, the New York City-based architecture, planning and research firm of 3 GSD graduates, welcomed prospective students and the Harvard community to the GSD on November 14 with a call to arms in their lecture “Architecture for Everyone.”

The firm’s founding partners—Tobias Armborst (MAUD '02), Daniel D’Oca (MUP '02) and Georgeen Theodore (MAUD '02)—presented their work as an encouragement to prospective and current students to envision the field of design just as they do: open, engaged and multi-disciplinary. The trio discussed design, planning and research projects ranging from their first engagements as they formed Interboro in 2002 up to their current work and teaching.

Though deeply interested in the detail of the “every day,” as the firm’s name suggests (Interboro is emblazoned across myriad businesses in New York City’s boroughs), Interboro is equally reflective about the broader priorities and aims of their work. Given their training as planners and architects, they explained, “We are not only interested in buildings and cities, but also in the many things that people do with buildings and cities.”

Interboro’s projects are wide-ranging in scale and scope, including Life with Landbanking, a reimagining of the Dutchess County Mall in Fishkill, NY, as well as Holding Pattern, an outdoor installation for MoMA PS1 in Queens, or Living with the Bay, a comprehensive regional resiliency plan for Nassau County’s South Shore, produced for the Rebuild by Design competition in 2013.

The firm’s ongoing work includes the Arsenal of Exclusion + Inclusion, a diagnostic of “101 weapons that open and close the city” in blog and book form. Though the catalogue is an extensive and often saddening assessment of the built environment, the project also represents a simple and powerful reminder that echoes throughout Interboro’s approach: “Architecture is public.” It’s readily apparent in Interboro’s willingness to always find the “interesting, funny and valuable lessons about people in places.” “For better or for worse, architecture is public,” they reiterated. “It’s a discipline where other people’s opinions matter.”

Interboro concluded with a powerful and provocative invitation, not only for prospective students but also for the current students, practitioners and professors in the audience. “We hope that if you decide to study architecture, landscape architecture or urban planning and design, you will fully embrace the idea that these disciplines are more fun, more interesting, more relevant and more fair when they meaningfully engage the opinions, practices, and idiosyncrasies of others.”

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