Archinect's newest series, Small Studio Snapshots, takes a look behind the curtain of small architecture practices. What motivates them? What difficulties do they come across? What are the advantages of keeping trim?
This week, we're talking to Superjacent, an LA-based studio comprised of "landscape protagonists, urban dreamers and strategic thinkers".
How many people are in your practice?
3 partners and 3 dogs.
Why were you originally motivated to start your own practice?
We came together as a group of friends with common goals and ambitions to build a practice focused on elevating the importance of landscape architecture in city-making, both locally in Los Angeles and broadly in the world. Landscape architecture is a unique profession that operates between different disciplines—cultural, political and ecological—with a need to act in a performative manner that connects these disciplines. We were motivated to create a firm with a clear vision of how those forces impact the built world. Likewise, we come from different backgrounds and experiences beyond landscape architecture including public art, architecture, urban design and industrial design and want to incorporate those various practices within our studio.
What hurdles have you come across?
Striving to be both ambitious and patient at the same time. Every day we see the growing need for what we do; building a stronger public realm and more ecologically resilient cities. As a growing practice, we are constantly looking for ways to work at various scales—being involved in long term built projects, but also working on very fast moving projects that often partner with community leaders, non-profits and academic institutions. Another hurdle that we have faced is understanding [that] the regulatory frameworks that many public projects use to select firms does not encourage the selection of younger firms. Often these projects require you have built experience within that specific project type and within their jurisdiction, creating a scenario that makes it challenging for younger, more innovative firms to work on public projects.
Is scaling up a goal or would you like to maintain the size of your practice?
We are excited about growth however, we understand that growth without meaning is not productive and can often dilute the very ethos of the firm. Our current pace of growth will require us to begin hiring staff in the short term. We approach the making of the office as a project and understand that all projects are iterative and need constant work and revisions to reach their best potential. We see growth as opportunities to take stock, rethink how we can create the most positive change in what we do given the opportunities in front of us.
What are the benefits of having your own practice? And staying small?
The biggest benefit is being able to focus our energies on what we believe in and by doing so make a positive impact on our cities in the way we feel is most needed. With that autonomy comes the responsibility of every aspect of the culture and production within the studio; if anything is lacking, the burden falls upon us to find a solution. Staying small creates a shorter and more effective feedback loop between all the collaborators in the office to understand what is working and what needs to be reconsidered. However, we believe that size is not ultimately the defining factor of what an office can achieve, rather it is the focus and inclusiveness of the office framework. We are striving to build something our future staff and collaborators can connect with, bringing their interests and passions to both enrich our work and magnify its impact.
Do you run a practice with six or less people? Get in touch!
Writer and fake architect, among other feints. Principal at Adjustments Agency. Co-founder of Encyclopedia Inc. Get in touch: email@example.com