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Design for North American Cities, Now

MKCA curated and provided the exhibition design for Design for North American Cities, Now at the Siegel Gallery at Pratt Institute with Jason Lee. The exhibition brings together work from ten leading schools of architecture engaged in developing design research addressing the intersection of public policy, urban design, and emerging social, cultural, and technological trends of importance to the future of the American city.

Each school conducted a design studio and/or research seminar dedicated to a specific issue or locale, with a particular emphasis on issues pertaining to medium to large American cities. Many of the featured schools were participants in the 2012 Culture Now Project, initiated by Thom Mayne at UCLA’s Department of Architecture as an inter-institutional consortium for the generation and exchange of new ideas and design strategies exploring a broad range of spatial, economic, technological, and cultural issues. Many of the participating schools have been engaged in their respective research areas for several years.

The featured projects on the walls of the gallery are clustered by city, with information concerning the size, population and location of each city providing a framework for the individual projects, each of which is indicative of a broad set of approaches undertaken by each studio. In many ways each school draws upon similar background information, much of it formatted using tools such as GIS. The format of the exhibition is that of an archive with a sampling of the collected research and mapping of the participating studios and seminars arrayed in the center of the room and outlining an uncoordinated, but nevertheless collective and cohesive exploration into the ecological, demographic, and infrastructural context of the selected sites.

Each considered city is represented in scale by an infographic key showing the area, population density, and location relative to the other cities.

A field of podiums with supporting research acts as a static archive. Multimedia is shown on flat screen televisions at either end of the podium field.


Pratt Institute School of Architecture
The Now Institute (Culture Now)

Michael Chen
Jason Lee

Visualizations and Exhibition Design
MKCA and Jason Lee

Project Team
Michael Chen
Justin Snider
Michelle Frantellizzi

Alan Tansey