Introducing The Architectural League’s 2023 Emerging Voices awardees


The Architectural League of New York has announced the eight winners of the 2023 Emerging Voices award from Canada, Mexico, and the United States. 

This year’s recipients are AD—WO, Cano Vera Arquitectura, David T. Fortin, Estudio ALA, Hillworks, Latent Design, The Open Workshop, and Ten x Ten. The selection was juried by practitioners and academics, including Marie Adams, Paola Aguirre, Behnaz Assadi, Fernanda Canales, Irene Cheng, David Godshall, Mario Gooden, Bryan Lee Jr., and Jess Myers. 

This year’s Emerging Voices winners represent various forms of practice that challenge the discipline of architecture and the nature of professional practice,’” said Mario Gooden, a jury member and president of The Architectural League. Their works are transcalar to the built environment in the production of space, sociality, community, and discourse. Additionally, their works hold a mirror to confront architecture’s entanglements with modernity, coloniality, and the resulting environmental, social, and technological changes, and how these are made manifest at the intersection of bodies, space, ecologies, politics, and aesthetics.

Fernanda Canales, another jury member and architect in Mexico City, added: “It is striking to see how much the priorities and the discourse in architecture have changed in just a couple of years, even months. Projects are being judged through a more ample view of firms and their effects in labor practices, inclusion, environmental preservation efforts and the possibility to take architecture to places it did not go before. Judging discussions are anchored more and more in the consequences of buildings and in a thorough understanding of the site; not only the plot, but also the communities, resources, future maintenance of the projects and the impact in the surroundings. None of this is new, but it is taking a more serious shift. Questions come up recurrently that nobody cared to ask before.”

Since 1982, Emerging Voices has elevated rising practitioners ranging from firms just getting their start, to those with almost two decades in practice. Past recipients have been sekou cooke STUDIO (2022), Studio Zewde (2021), Peterson Rich Office (2020), Frida Escobedo (2017), SO – IL and MASS Design Group (2013), and more. Last year’s cohort was Common Works Architects, Dream The Combine, Janette Kim, Katherine Hogan Architects, LANZA Atelier, N H D M Architects, ORU – Oficina de Resiliencia Urbana, and TERREMOTO.

This year’s round, according juror Paola Aguirre, showcases architects that are redefining architecture with critical practice. “It’s been three years since the uprisings of 2020, and we’re just now coming out of COVID,” Aguirre said. “At times it feels like these things are being washed out of the profession. So we wanted to recognize practices that addressed these issues while showing new paths forward.” 

Jess Myers, a jury member and professor at Syracuse University, said the selection committee thought critically about what students could learn from each architect when making their choices. “Are there new or different or interesting ways of working with clients or working with the community as client? Is it possible to have a new or different relationship with construction? Is it possible to develop even the labor format of the office in a new way, through cooperatives or through unions? Can we work with material in a different way?” Myers continued: “The question of what it means to be ‘emerging’ continuously came up between jurors. We asked ourselves: What will this firm go on and do after? What are they trying to achieve? These architects demonstrate people interrogating long term ideas.”

Emanuel Admassu, Jen Wood
AD—WO | New York

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100 Links was a collaboration between AD—WO and The Buell Center at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. (Tom Harris/Courtesy The Architectural League)

Emanuel Admassu and Jen Wood founded AD—WO in New York in 2018. Working at the intersection of art and architecture, the practice is rooted in Black studies, decoloniality, and conceptual art. Admassu and Wood’s installations, exhibitions, and built projects articulate, in their own words, “how architecture and art are implicated in ongoing struggles; redirecting spatial thinking against various forms of subjugation.” Located in galleries and educational and cultural institutions, the firm’s installations utilize tactical materiality and non-Western aesthetics to challenge architectural conventions.

Juan Carlos Cano, Paloma Vera, Fermin Andrade
Cano Vera Arquitectura | Mexico City

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Andaro Plaza by Cano Vera (Courtesy Cano Vera)

Juan Carlos Cano and Paloma Vera founded CANO VERA arquitectura in Mexico City in 2007, and Fermín Andrade joined the firm as partner in 2019. Initially oriented toward social housing design, the practice’s portfolio has since expanded to include large scale institutional, cultural, and infrastructural projects. Uniting expertise in both architectural and urban design, CANO VERA arquitectura’s work demonstrates a consistent social orientation and sensitivity to context expressed through ambitiously scaled forms. In the words of its founders, the practice believes that “the specific can transform the whole.”

David Fortin Architect
David T. Fortin | Cambridge, Ontario

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David T. Fortin’s Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, entitled Not For Sale! in collaboration with Architects Against Housing Alienation (Courtesy David T. Fortin)

David Fortin founded David T Fortin Architect in Sudbury, Ontario in 2018. Now located in Cambridge, Ontario, the 100 percent Indigenous-owned firm believes that “well-designed spaces can strengthen our relations with each other and the Land in profound ways,” in its own words. Primarily working with Métis and First Nation clients across Canada, David T. Fortin Architect produces a broad range of work grounded in Indigenous knowledge, from installations and advocacy initiatives to affordable and social housing projects.

Luis Enrique Flores, Armida Fernandez
Estudio ALA | Guadalajara, Mexico

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Tequila Centinela Chapel by Estudio ALA (Courtesy Estudio ALA)

Armida Fernández and Luis Enrique Flores founded Estudio ALA in Guadalajara in 2012. Often designing for industrial and agricultural contexts, the firm, in its own words, seeks to “honor culture and tradition while still questioning the significance of programs, methodologies, and materialities.” Through built work and research projects that engage creatively with established economic and social structures, Estudio ALA explores a wide range of topics, including migrant spaces and pathways, emerging dwelling typologies, environmental sustainability, and reuse and reprogramming.

David Hill
Hillworks | Auburn, Alabama

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Alabama Meadows by Hillworks (Courtesy Hillworks)

David Hill founded the landscape design studio HILLWORKS in 2009. Located in Auburn, Alabama,  HILLWORKS works closely with Auburn University, a public land grant institution. The firm is grounded in the ecological and cultural landscape of the southeastern United States. Designers engage in design research on plant performance, including studies in phenology and novel ecologies, and the inventive reuse of land, such as community gardens and rewilding strategies. The studio’s projects across a variety of scales reflect a dedication to the regenerative power of the landscape.

Katherine Darnstadt
Latent Design | Chicago

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Youth Community Center on Chicago’s West Side by Latent (Courtesy Latent)

Katherine Darnstadt founded Latent in Chicago in 2010. Bridging the fields of architecture and community development, Latent utilizes participatory processes and leverages local assets to create design solutions in resource and budget limited environments. The practice’s portfolio includes small-scale urban interventions, new construction community buildings, adaptive reuse, neighborhood master plans, and speculative designs. Focused on accessibility, sustainability, and economic viability, the practice states that it is founded “on the belief that great spaces belong to our most vulnerable populations.”

Neeraj Bhatia
The Open Workshop | San Francisco

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The Center Won’t Hold by The Open Workshop (Courtesy The Open Workshop)

Neeraj Bhatia founded THE OPEN WORKSHOP in 2013 in Toronto, Canada. Now based in San Francisco, the multidisciplinary practice produces a diverse range of projects and built works that bridge speculative research and formal design. The studio investigates how architecture and urbanism can foster social, racial, environmental, and economic equity, engaging frequently with issues of housing justice and public space. Often created collaboratively with communities, institutions, and other designers, these projects both propose and represent what the firm describes as “a collective ethos of design and forms of exchange.”

Maura Rockcastle, Ross Altheimer
TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture + Urbanism | Minneapolis

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Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Kinigi, Rwanda (Courtesy Ten x Ten)

Ross Altheimer and Maura Rockcastle founded TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture + Urbanism in Minneapolis in 2015. According to the firm, their transdisciplinary studio works collaboratively to “co-create immersive, resilient landscapes that adapt to social, economic, and environmental transformation.” Through diverse projects that range from industrial reuse to memorial design and a methodology that centers research and community investment, TEN x TEN’s work demonstrates a deep respect for place and the belief that design can affect positive change in our environments.

Emerging Voices awardees will each share their work via Zoom next month. For more information, visit The Architectural League’s website. The schedule for these presentations is as follows:

March 7, 2024
David Fortin
David T. Fortin Architect
Cambridge, Ontario

Neeraj Bhatia
THE OPEN WORKSHOP
San Francisco

Moderated by Marie Law Adams

March 14, 2024
David Hill
Hillworks
Auburn, Alabama

Katherine Darnstadt
Latent
Chicago

Moderated by David Godshall

March 21, 2024
Armida Fernández, Luis Enrique Flores
Estudio ALA
Guadalajara, Mexico

Emanuel Admassu, Jen Wood
AD—WO
New York

Moderated by Paola Aguirre and Jess Myers

March 28, 2024
Fermín Andrade, Juan Carlos Cano, Paloma Vera
CANO VERA arquitectura
Mexico City

Ross Altheimer, Maura Rockcastle
TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture + Urbanism
Minneapolis

Moderated by Fernanda Canales





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