Michael Chen is principal of MKCA // Michael Chen Architecture (www.mkcarch.com), an architecture and design firm based in New York City. His work encompasses both built and speculative work integrating thinking about architecture, interiors, products, infrastructure, and urbanism. The office’s work and research have been widely exhibited and published worldwide, including in The New York Times, Dwell, Interior Design. MKCA’s ongoing Signal Space project exploring the contemporary and historical relationship between urban form and antennas was featured in the United States Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture where the office exhibited its map of the 12,000+ mobile phone antennas in New York City. Current work includes furniture and product design, design research, and architecture projects for residential and commercial clients throughout the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia. The office’s largest project to date, a 9,500 sf single family house is currently in construction on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
As a faculty member at Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture, he coordinates the first year undergraduate Technics seminar. He and Jason Lee co-direct the Crisis Fronts research seminar and design studio exploring the intersection of public policy and speculative design strategies and methods. The work of the studio has also been exhibited and presented internationally, including at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture in 2009, and at numerous academic conferences and events. In 2011 and 2012, the studio was one of twelve contributing to the Culture Now Project, and initiative curated by Thom Mayne addressing the role that progressive and speculative design could plan in influencing the futures of struggling mid-sized American cities.
Michael studied architecture at the University of California at Berkeley (AB) and Columbia University (M.Arch) where he received the Lowenfish Award for Design Excellence and the Kinne Traveling Fellowship. He has taught design studios and seminars at The University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University, Columbia University, Parsons School of Design, and Pratt Institute. Michael’s writings on architecture, urbanism, and infrastructure have appeared recently in Bracket [Goes Soft], MAS Context, Urban Omnibus, and Surface. He is the recipient of grants for independent research from the Graham Foundation, Pratt Institute, and the Van Alen Institute, and in 2003-2004 was the John Dinkeloo Fellow at the American Academy in Rome.
Michael is a Registered Architect in New York State and a member of the American Institute of Architects.
For more information on Michael Chen, visit his website.]
As another semester ends and final reviews come to a close, the wealth of creative energy spent in design studios this spring risks becoming confined to student portfolios and never contributing to broader conversations outside the classroom. Our Studio Report series aims to address this intellectual loss by inviting the instructors of design studios with briefs relevant to New York City to share student work here on Urban Omnibus. Below, Michael Chen and Jason Lee, present some of the work from Future Bronx(es), the latest installment of their Crisis Fronts degree project, which probes the mutual influence of public policy and speculative design. For this studio, Chen and Lee, assisted by Justin Snider, encouraged their undergraduate students at the Pratt Institute to think big about the urban prospects of the Bronx. But rather than limiting students to the familiar tropes of designing for underperforming buildings or vacant land in a disinvested and isolated part of the city, the Future Bronx(es) studio takes an optimistic, opportunistic, and urban-scale view of the context at hand, beginning with the collection of new kinds of data that range from density and demographics to food distribution and cultural production.–C.S.
To read the full article, visit the Urban Omnibus website.
Mobile communication networks, seemingly the most invisible of infrastructures, have an enormous potential impact on the physical environment of the city. As wireless usage skyrockets, the capacity of the network is pushed to its limits, and the technologies that control and transmit the signals must adapt to meet the demand. Today’s rooftop base stations and inconspicuous antennae (some of which are more noticeable than others) will become — in whatever shape they take — ubiquitous features of our urban space. To begin to comprehend the ways that this infrastructural layer has already spread across the city and how designers can involve themselves in its future form, Michael Chen, a principal of Normal Projects and adjunct assistant professor at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, and Justin Snider, a designer and researcher, embarked on a research project they call Signal Space. The project is part of an ongoing inquiry into broadcast and antenna infrastructure by Chen and Snider, which involves sensing, simulation and visualization methods, a public data-gathering event series and an upcoming piece in BRACKET [goes soft]. Here, Chen shares some of his research so far: an investigation into the physical, spatial, technological, public, private, governmental and design significance of this new stratum of urban space — signal space. -V.S.
To read the full article, visit the Urban Omibus website.