An installation of old and new work by Interboro at the Common Room 2 gallery


Common Room 2

New York, New York

Project Team:

Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, Georgeen Theodore

Lars Fisher, Todd, and Maria have invited Interboro to exhibit some work at the incredible Common Room 2 Gallery, which is in the lobby of a Herman Jessor-designed office building in the Seward Park housing complex. With the exception of IsDR Architecture, the office building is tenanted by institutions offering support services for residents of Co-op Village, most of whom are over 65 (Co-op Village has been designated a NORC, or a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community). One of the things that is so interesting about the space, is how it forces people in the retirement community to brush shoulders with people from the architectural community; it's so much more interesting than, say, a gallery space in Chelsea.

The exhibition, which was titled “Lobbying,” was an exhibition of old and new work by Interboro. The work was organized according to the roles we play as designers:

Detective (green lines): Keep to the actors! Because there are tens of thousands of things you could never deduce from conventional narratives about, for example, deadmalls and shrinking cities. This is why it’s important to do good detective work: old-fashioned empirical observation. The problem with architects and planners isn't so much that they always think they have the answer, it's that they always think they know the problem. We have to listen more and talk less - like detectives do.

Ghostwriter (blue lines): The people and the places you’ll encounter in the three projects presented here are too busy doing their thing to stop to think about how important their thing is. That’s where ghostwriters come in. Ghostwriters create the legacy by telling a story about how integral their subject is to the development of the world. Similarly, in all of the places we’ve worked in, we’ve identified people on the ground whose self-interested actions are clues about how to make the place better. What these people need is someone to “sing their life” so to speak; to legitimize these self-interested practices, and make the case that they are vital to a place’s future.

Lifecoach (orange lines): The third phase--the Lifecoach phase--is the toughest phase, because unlike detective work (which is about observation and documentation) and ghostwriting (which is about interpretation), Lifecoaching entails advocating for a person or a place. More ambitiously, it entails advocating for a particular outcome. What’s going to happen to the Dutchess Mall? Who knows, but if you’re a good Lifecoach, you can map many possible futures, pick one that you think is the most interesting, equitable, sustainable, or maybe just feasible, and “rig” the game so that it plays out in your favor.