Lecture Recap :: Hilary Sample


Cottage House, Final Photo [Photo Courtesy of Hilary Sample, Principal, MOS]
By Karen Nelson, Head, School of Architecture

"These foreign object buildings have been designed to experiment with technological and typological conditions in form making as part of a new model for a contemporary and global based practice." - Hilary Sample

Hilary Sample spoke directly to the students in straightforward language about Foreign Objects. Sample is an architect and principal in the New York City based design office MOS with Michael Meredith. She is a pioneer – creating new territory for their architectural practice. Their work tweaks building typologies by multiplying conventions and surprisingly creating apertures in otherwise quiet facades.

Sample's work at MOS has been recognized with an Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Emerging Voices from the Architectural League of New York, and has recently been exhibited as part of the MoMA Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. Hilary Sample is also an Associate Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, where she is Director of the Core Housing Studio. Prior to teaching at Columbia, she taught at Yale University, the University of Toronto, and held the Reyner Banham Teaching Chair at SUNY Buffalo.

Hilary Sample presented three projects that the BAC Atelier student representatives asked her to address: Floating House in Canada, Krabbesholm Højskole in Denmark, and Lali Gurans Orphanage and Library in Nepal.

Each project worked within the parameters set by the site, by local building conditions [both codes and construction practices], and with an eye for material efficiency [locally sourced] and joy. Each project experiments with local building technologies to heighten its tectonic and volumetric presence.

Hilary spoke about how the firm uses roofs to demonstrate architecture’s potential to convey a larger organizational strategy - and hold in-between spaces that create informal gathering spaces under long eaves. In Krabbesholm, MOS uses the roofs to converse with existing historic structures, to hold mechanical equipment, and to frame new views between different art studios.

In the Kathmandu orphanage, earthquake safety helped define the concrete frame of the structure. While the site shifted slightly in the politically fluid conditions– a constant was designing more generous spaces to each child – to create a sense of respect both of self and by the neighbors.

Through their recent projects and research, Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample have emerged as two of architecture's most daring alchemists. Their use of new media technologies creates a new choreographic architecture. Their dry sense of humor is evident in their film subtitles. I am inspired by their resourceful practice.