Highlighting America's rich history of architectural experimentation and the original ways architects today are working collaboratively to invigorate community activism and environmental policy


Into the Open: New York

A series of public programs exploring curatorial, pedagogical and architectural approaches to civic engagement at Parsons the New School for Design

Fields of Knowledge
  • Comm. Development
  • Curatorial practice
  • Design
  • Health / Sustainability
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Parc Foundation, Parsons the New School for Design

Contributing Institutions

The Architect's Newspaper


William Menking, Aaron Levy, and Andrew Sturm


Exhibit concept conceived with architects Teddy Cruz and Deborah Gans


Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Robert Rubin and Stephane Samuel, Oldcastle Glass, others


Commissioned by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S, Department of State, Washington, D.C.

Process initiated


Opens to public



The New School for Design
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Kellen Auditorium
66 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY

On the web


50% Formal - 50% Informal

Slought and Parsons The New School for Design are pleased to announce "Into the Open: The Conference," on the evening of Friday, April 24, 2009 from 5-9:00pm in New York City at Parsons (Kellen Auditorium, 66 Fifth Avenue, Ground floor).

Into the Open, the official U.S. pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, the 11th International Architecture Exhibition, is on view from March 4 through May 1, 2009 at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. The exhibition focuses on the increasing interest in civic engagement in American architectural practice, and examines the means by which a new generation of architects is reclaiming a role in shaping community and the built environment. Into the Open features 16 architectural groups who actively engage communities, responding to social and environmental issues, including shifting demographics, changing geo-political boundaries, uneven economic development, and the explosion of urban migration. These intellectually entrepreneurial actors are designing the conditions from which new architectures can emerge-becoming activists, developers, facilitators of inclusive urban policies, as well as innovative urban researchers. Reaching creatively across institutions, agencies, and jurisdictions, they are negotiating hidden resources in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.

The conference will consider what happens after the exhibition Into the Open closes. How can the issues explored in it be mobilized in contemporary practice?

Download the Conference Schedule

Question #1: Beyond Exhibition

What's the politics of displaying architecture? How can we actualize the ideas presented in the exhibit, beyond the space and time of the exhibit?

Presentation by Rick Lowe, with responses by agents provocateurs Alfred Zollinger, Susan Yelavich, Lydia Matthews, Ken Saylor, and Bob Rubin

Question #2: Community of Interest

Should the architect define the program or should it be the community's responsibility?

Presentation by Teddy Cruz, with responses by agents provocateurs Jean Gardner, David Grahame Shane, Miodrag Mitrasinovic, and John Thackara (UK)

Question #3: Data Architecture

How is research a form of architectural practice? Is digital visualization a new form of architecture?

Presentation by Laura Kurgan, with responses by agents provocateurs William Bevington, Brian McGrath, and Sven Travis

Question #4: Shelter as City

How do you design sustainably for extreme conditions?

Presentation by Deborah Gans, with responses by agents provocateurs David Lewis, Robert Kirkbride, and Raoul Rickenberg

read more

Guest Speakers

Guatemala-born Teddy Cruz, founder of Estudio Teddy Cruz, is an architect and educator based in San Diego, CA whose practice and pedagogy, through research and design production, has been focused on the particularities of the bicultural territory of the U.S.-Mexican border. He is currently associate professor in Public Culture and Urbanism in the Visual Arts Department at University of California, San Diego and was appointed by San Diego Mayor's Jerry Sanders to serve as a member of the board of directors of San Diego's Center City Development Corporation. His work has been included in major architecture biennales, magazines and exhibits around the world and he has been pinned one of the emergent voices in American architecture.

Deborah Gans is the principal of NY-based Gans studio and a full professor in the Architecture School at Pratt Institute. She is also visiting critic at Yale University. Many of Gans studio's projects in industrial design and architecture have a focus on social engagement, including a school desk for the New York School Construction Authority and alternative forms of housing for Kosovo and New Orleans. Current projects are a master plan for The Graham School in Hastings-on-Hudson New York. Among Gans' publications are the Le Corbusier Guide, now in its third edition (2006) and Extreme Sites: The 'Greening' of Brownfield (2004).

Laura Kurgan teaches architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where she is the director of the Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) and the Director of Visual Studies. Her recent projects include a multi-year SIDL project on "million-dollar blocks" and the urban costs of American incarceration, which has appeared most recently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (where it is part of the permanent collection). Her book on working with GPS and satellite imagery in various ways, Satellites, is forthcoming from Zone Books.

Texas-based Rick Lowe is the founder of Project Row Houses, an arts and cultural organization located in Houston's historically significant and culturally charged Third Ward neighborhood. As an artist, Lowe has participated in exhibitions and programs internationally, and has worked as guest artist on a number of community projects nationally. Lowe collaborated with arts consultant Jessica Cusick on the Arts Plan for Rem Koolhaas' Seattle Public Library, and worked with California-based artist Suzanne Lacy and curator Mary Jane Jacobs on the Borough Project for Spoleto Festival 2003, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Agents Provocateurs

Jean Gardner
Senior Faculty, School of Constructed Environments and School of Design Strategies, Parsons; Co-Founder of the Michael Kalil Endowment for Smart Design at Parsons

Robert Kirkbride
Associate professor of Product Design and thesis coordinator in the product design department, School of Constructed Environments, Parsons

David J. Lewis
Associate Professor, director of The Design Workshop, School of Constructed Environments, Parsons

Lydia Matthews
Dean of Academic Programs of Parsons the New School for Design and Professor in Art and Design History and Theory

Brian McGrath
Interim Director of Academic Affairs, and Associate Professor, Urban Design, School of Constructed Environments, Parsons

Raoul Rickenberg
Assistant Professor in the School of Design Strategies, Parsons

Bob Rubin
Robert M. Rubin is an architectural historian and preservationist of Modernism

Grahame Shane
Adjunct Professor of Architecture, Columbia University and Cooper Union, author of Recombinant Urbanism (Wiley, 2005)

John Thackara (UK)
Programme director, Designs of the time (Dott 07), England; Commissioner, Tools for Survival, St Etienne Design Biennial, France

Susan Yelavich
Assistant Professor in Parson's School of History and Theory of Art and Design

Alfred Zollinger
Director of the BFAs in Interior Design and Architectural Design, Professor of interior design, School of Constructed Environments, Parsons

Sven Travis
Interim Dean, Communications Design and Technology

Miodrag Mitrasinovic
Chair of Design Strategies Urban Initiative

William Bevington
Executive Director, Parsons Institute for Information Mapping (PIIM); formerly Chair, Communication Design Department at Parsons The New School

Associated Public Programs

Wednesday, March 4, 2009, 6-8pm

Live drawing session with the San-Francisco design collaborative REBAR, and Parsons Illustration department students: Bernadine Brocker, Sophia Chang, Jason Moreno, Emnanuel Tavares

March 9-13, 2009

Catastrophe Slam
Colloquium and 24-hour studio lab exercise with students and faculty across The New School, generating physical, virtual and performative solutions to infrastructure problems. With Robert Kirkbride, Shannon Mattern.

Friday, April 10, 2009, 2-4pm

Reclamation of Post-Industrial Territories: Land Arts and the Incubo Atacama Lab
This event will address the reclamation of post-industrial landscapes, environmental impact of the practices of reclamation, and roles that architecture, art and design play in such processes. The panel will further discuss the epistemological significance of postindustrial landscapes within the framework of Urban Ecology, and also the environmental impact of reclamation. With Joel Towers, Chris Taylor (Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech), The Incubo Group (Santiago, Chile), Carin Kuoni. With the Vera List Center for Art and Politics (The New School).

Friday, April 17, 2009, 11-4pm

Concurrent Urbanities brings together designers, artists, architects, urbanists, planners, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, civic and community activists, with government representatives and the private sector, in order to explore the complex production of new urban conditions across the world. Particular emphasis is placed on exploring new roles that artists and designers play, and the design theories, methods and techniques of visualization and communication they employ, to encourage radical democratization, forms of social resistance, economic equity, and environmental sustainability.

11-1pm: Miodrag Mitrasinovic, Anne Frederick, Rosten Woo, Deborah Gans, Vyjayanthi Rao, Joseph Heathcott; 2-4pm: Ivan Kucina, Marc Neelen and Ana Dzokic, Alexander Vollebregt, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Damon Rich, Vyjayanthi Rao.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009, 2:30-5:30pm

Class Crit with John Thackara and guests. How can exhibitions best facilitate social learning toward more sustainable futures? Is it too fixed a medium, too superficial, or too abstract? What can it lead to? How does it compare to books, conferences, demo projects, competitions, campaigns, or (digital) networks? With John Thackara, Cameron Tonkinwise, Allan Chochinov, Debra Johnson, Aaron Levy, Maura Lout, Manuel Toscano, Joel Towers

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 12-1:30pm

Lecture by Teddy Cruz, Estudio Teddy Cruz. Cruz will present on his practice in relation to notions of citizenship, and the politics of immigration. Location: Eugene Lang, 65 West 11th Street, Wolman auditorium, Room 500.

Friday, April 24, 2009, 12-2pm

Roundtable with Melina Shannon-DiPietro, Director, Yale Sustainable Food Project, Parsons Design Workshop team and its BronxScape client, the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter. An open dialog to discuss ways of making, planting, and using the BronxScape rooftop space as spring approaches, a brainstorming session around best practices and ideas for rooftop educational programming for shelter residents.

Throughout April 2009

Graphic and Fashion Design Charrettes. Publicity for conference generated by William Bevington's Junior Communication design class; Exhibition material re-use for garments and apparel accessories explored by Pascale Gatzen's Fashion design class.