Stati Uniti d'America

Into the Open: Positioning Practice

The Architect's Newspaper, PARC Foundation, and Slought Foundation are
pleased to announce their selection by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of
Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to represent the United States at the
2008 Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition, Into the Open: Positioning
Practice, will highlight the means by which architects reclaim their role in
shaping community and the built environment, to expand understanding of American
architectural practice and its relationship to civic participation. The
exhibition will be organized by U.S. Commissioner William Menking, along with
co-curators Aaron Levy, Executive Director and Senior Curator at Slought
Foundation, and Andrew Sturm, Director of Architecture for the PARC Foundation.
The exhibition is conceived in collaboration with architects Teddy Cruz and
Deborah Gans.

Into the Open: Positioning Practice will include installations, digital
images, video projections, drawings, and artifacts of the American
landscape-from open spaces and parks to civic spaces and urban housing units.
The exhibition explores how architects, urban researchers, and community
activists are meeting the challenges of creating new work in response to
contemporary social conditions. The exhibition will address factors challenging
traditional methods of architecture, such as shifting socio-cultural
demographics, changing geo-political boundaries, uneven economic development,
and the explosion of migration and urbanization. At the same time, it will
advocate for an expanded conception of architectural practice and
responsibility. The fifteen practitioners included, all of whom actively engage
communities in their work, demonstrate multifaceted responses to social and
environmental issues.

Changing populations, shifting borders, and uneven economic
development-exacerbated by the explosion of migration and urbanization-have
generated conflicts and conditions that question traditional architectural
In a milieu characterized by territorial and institutional deadlock,
architects, urban researchers, and community activists increasingly must
intervene in situations by "going beyond building."This does not mean dispensing
with the value of architecture per se, but rather acknowledging each situation's
unique complexity.This exhibition explores the original ways that these actors
are taking up the challenge of designing the conditions from which new
architectures can emerge.They are becoming activists, developers, facilitators
of a more inclusive urban policy, as well as producers of unique urban
These new practitioners are notable for the emphasis they place on
inventive, interdisciplinary economics of development that reach creatively
across institutions, agencies, and jurisdictions to negotiate hidden resources
in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.
In the absence of large-scale
public infrastructure projects in the United States, local initiatives are
becoming newly empowered and dynamic arenas for the exploration and generation
of new forms of sociability and activism.Through this expanded concept of
architectural practice and its responsibilities, intractable problems can be
addressed with an altered perspective.

We are also proposing that social, cultural and spatial boundaries be
understood as a new framework defining architectural problems. Accordingly, we
have identified a heterogeneous and dispersed series of practices that are
empowered by the inventive ways they work and with whom they engage.The
curatorial logic behind this project highlights the ways that architects, urban
researchers, and activists reclaim the ability to shape community and the built
environment. It is our hope that this taxonomy produces a new understanding of
American architectural practice and potential forms of social
We have selected sixteen diverse participants all of whom
actively engage communities and their participation on various levels.To remain
relevant, architecture must find ways to respond to the cultural fluidity,
socio-economic challenges, and environmental rifts that define our times. In our
exhibition, architecture is revealed as able to generate new forms of
sociability and activism that move us beyond ideological polarization.