California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts

San Francisco, CA


CCA Faculty Awarded 2011 New York Architectural League Prize

By Clay Walsh
Jun 9, '11 2:05 PM EST
Congratulations to Jason K. Johnson and Nataly Gattegno—awardees of the 2011 New York Architectural League Prize
Congratulations to Jason K. Johnson and Nataly Gattegno—awardees of the 2011 New York Architectural League Prize

Architecture faculty members Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno, the founding design principals of San Francisco–based Future Cities Lab, an interdisciplinary design and research collaborative, are among this year's winners of the juried New York Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers competition. Johnson and Gattegno represent the only West Coast architects selected this year.

Johnson commented: "We are thrilled to have been awarded the New York Architectural League Prize for 2011. It is exciting to be recognized for a body of work and research that is still emerging and highly experimental."

About the Architectural League Prize

The New York Architectural League Prize (formerly known as the Young Architects Forum) is an annual competition (open to designers 10 years or fewer out of school and draws entrants from all across North America), a series of lectures, and an exhibition organized by the Architectural League and its Young Architects & Designers Committee. It was established to recognize "specific works of high quality and to encourage the exchange of ideas among young people who might otherwise not have a forum. . . . The committee seeks projects and design approaches that provide new strategies to address existing or entrenched problems, proactive definitions of practice, and a rethinking of the design discipline in relation to new economic, political, social, and cultural paradigms."

For each competition, past winners of the League Prize form a committee that is responsible for developing the program’s theme and selecting competition jurors. Previous winners include architects Steven Holl, Monica Ponce DeLeon, Neil Denari, Billie Tsien, Preston Scott Cohen, Brett Steele, and many others. (See also past winners.)

Juried Competition

Participants in the League Prize program are selected through a portfolio competition that is juried by distinguished architects, artists, critics, and the Young Architects and Designers Committee. The following persons comprised this year's jury:

Pritzker Prize–winning architect Thom Mayne (Morphosis)
Michael Manfredi (Weiss/Manfredi)
Hilary Sample (MOS Architects)
Annabelle Selldorf (Selldorf Architects)
Ken Smith, landscape architect

What Is the New Role of the Designer?

The theme for this year's competition was "It's Different." The theme embraces the challenges that have accompanied the past year, identified as "global networking and integration, and global economic and security crises; environmental activism and environmental catastrophe; virtual revolution and physical stagnation." From these immense struggles comes the need to "operate on a wholly different paradigm.

"This difference will require architects and the discipline to practice architecture and design without preconceptions and assumptions, rethinking how designers engage constructively with our cities, our environments, and our societies. Not content to wait for the hoped-for return of economic conditions favorable to conventional ideas about architectural practice, architects must ask: What is the new role of the designer?"

Johnson and Gattegno explore these questions through their design work, research, and teaching.

Lecture Series & Group Exhibition

A lecture series and a group exhibition featuring the work of Future Cities Lab and the other winners opens Wednesday, June 15, at 7 p.m. at the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries (located at 66 Fifth Avenue at 13th Street), and runs through August 3, providing a lively public forum for the discussion of Johnson's and Gattegno's work and ideas. According to the former, "Our work is about pushing the boundaries of architecture and exploring its intersections with other disciplines such as ecology, technology, fabrication, and robotics."

For the exhibition Johnson and Gattegno will present a new project, entitled Thermaespheres. It is a proposal for a public thermal bath and event pavilion on the Mediterranean Sea. The exhibit will include a series of intricate process models presented on illuminated tables alongside suspended light-boxes containing drawings and installation images.

The models, many of which contain thousands of small components, are handsewn and notched together into complex geometric assemblages. The Thermaespheres project is composed of three intersecting domed spaces that are surrounded by a lightweight shade canopy that serves as an urban threshold, public promenade, and solar energy generator.

(The event and exhibition is cosponsored by the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design.)

About Future Cities Lab

Future Cities Lab is an experimental design and research office based in San Francisco and Athens. Design principals Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno have collaborated on a range of award-winning projects that explore the intersections of design with advanced fabrication technologies, robotics, responsive building systems, and public space.

Their work has been published and exhibited worldwide. They were the 2008–9 Muschenheim and Oberdick Fellows at the University of Michigan TCAUP, the 2009 New York Prize Fellows at the Van Alen Institute in New York, and exhibited work at the 2009–10 Hong Kong / Shenzhen Biennale.

Both Johnson and Gattegno studied at Princeton University and now teach at CCA and UC Berkeley. In addition to being an assistant professor in CCA's Architecture Program, Johnson is co-coordinator of CCA's MEDIAlab, Johnson also teaches in CCA's Graduate Program in Design.) Gattegno is an associate professor in Architecture and is the Elab project coordinator. She also runs the Hydra Cities Summer Workshop in Athens.


"CCA has emerged as the center of design innovation and experimentation in the Bay Area," affirms Gattegno. "It is inspiring to be teaching in an environment that can nurture this level of craft, critical thinking, and cross-disciplinary dialogue."

About CCA's Architecture Division
Undergraduate Program

The Bachelor of Architecture Program is a five-year, NAAB-accredited program committed to experiments in alternative models of practice, design, and fabrication. The curriculum accordingly brings developments in culture, media, and technology to bear on the process of architectural production, allowing students to capitalize on new opportunities in a rapidly changing profession.

Graduate Program

The Master of Architecture Program focuses on material innovation, research, application, and resourcefulness within a larger social and cultural context. While providing a well-rounded architectural education, the program engages physically and digitally with old, new, and emerging building materials and systems to explore architecture as a critical and evolving practice. Digital craft, design research, interdisciplinary engagement, alternative models, and global involvement and exchange are emphasized.