• Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good: US Pavilion, 13th International Architecture Exhibition
    Cathy Long Ho, Ned Cramer, and David van der Leer
    US Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale
    Aug 29, 2012 to Nov 25, 2012
    Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago
    May 24, 2013 to Sep 02, 2013
    Institute for Urban Design

Installation view of Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good, the US Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition, 2012, Venice.

The US Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, organized by the Institute for Urban Design on behalf of the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is devoted to the theme Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good. The exhibit features 124 urban interventions realized in US cities in recent years. Spontaneous Interventions focuses on projects initiated by architects, designers, planners, and everyday citizens, aimed at bringing positive change to the urban realm. It captures one of the most compelling contemporary urban trends, wherein individuals are taking it upon themselves to create projects that expand the amenities, comfort, functionality, inclusiveness, safety, and sustainability of cities. From parklets to community farms; guerrilla bike lanes to urban repair squads; outdoor living rooms to pop-up markets, sharing networks, and temporary architecture, Spontaneous Interventions highlights viable citizen-led alternatives to traditional top-down urban revitalization tactics.

Cathy Lang Ho, commissioner and curator, is an independent architecture critic and editor based in New York and a board member of the Institute for Urban Design. She is a contributing editor to Architect magazine. She was the founding editor-in-chief of the Architect's Newspaper, and a former editor at Architecture magazine and Design Book Review. She has published hundreds of articles in publications worldwide, including Abitare, Art + Auction, Arquitectura Viva, Blueprint, Domus, Frame, MARK, Metropolis, and the New York Times. She was the recipient of the Rome Prize in Design (FAAR, 2008–09).

Ned Cramer, curator, is the editor-in-chief of Architect magazine, the official magazine of the American Institute of Architects. Prior to joining Hanley Wood, Cramer served as the first full time curator of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF). Cramer has also worked at the National Building Museum (Washington, D.C.) and the Menil Collection (Houston, Texas).

David van der Leer, curator, is the assistant curator of architecture and design at the Guggenheim Museum. Most recently, he led the curatorial team of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, an international traveling laboratory for urban experiments and public programs which debuted in New York in August 2011. He is a regular contributor to publications such as Domus, Mark, the Architect's Newspaper, Azure, and PIN-UP.

Curatorial Advisors:

Paola Antonelli is a senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her writing has been published widely and she has lectured on design and architecture throughout the world, including the TED Conference and the World Economic Forum.

Anne Guiney is the executive director of the Institute for Urban Design. She was previously the editor of the New York edition of the Architect's Newspaper and design editor of Architecture magazine.

Zoë Ryan is the chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is building the museum's first collection of contemporary design. She was previously the senior curator at the Van Alen Institute (VAI) in New York. Her writing has appeared in publications worldwide.

Michael Sorkin is the founder of the Michael Sorkin Studio in New York and the distinguished professor of architecture and director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at New York's City College (CUNY). He has authored and edited 15 books, including Twenty Minutes in Manhattan (Verso, 2009) and All Over the Map (Verso, 2011). Sorkin is the president of the board of directors of the Institute for Urban Design.

Project Collaborators: 

Exhibition designer Freecell is a Brooklyn-based design and fabrication studio founded by Lauren Crahan and John Hartmann. The company's diverse skill set, which includes design fabrication, photography, and drawing, enables their search for creative and innovative solutions. They strive to create site-specific, three-dimensional installations that transform and question the use and perception of space. Recent work includes custom furniture for the fashion designer Alexander Wang, interior fixtures for the West Village–based jewelry store Vasa and interior design for the Diesel Black Gold store in SoHo.

Communication and exhibition designer M-A-D is led by Erik Adigard and Patricia McShane, who are interdisciplinary communication designers focusing on the convergence of cultural and technological change. They are recipients of the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design for a body of work that ranges from corporate branding to multimedia exhibitions. They have taught at California College of the Arts, and Adigard frequently writes on design and media for industry publications, serves on juries, and lectures internationally. In addition, he is this year's Rome Prize winner in the Design category.

Courtyard installation designer Interboro Partners is a New York–based office of architects, urban designers, and planners. Led by Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, and Georgeen Theodore, the firm strives to improve cities through innovative and experimental design ideas. Interboro has been honored with many prestigious awards including the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program Award, the AIA New York Chapter's New Practices Award, and the Architectural League's Emerging Voices and x Young Architects Award.

Since 1979, the New York–based Institute for Urban Design has served as a central platform for debate among architects, planners, policy-makers, developers, academics, journalists, and urbanists. The Institute operates as a think tank and advocacy group, drawing on the collected experience and knowledge of its large fellowship to bring important issues into wider public debate through lectures, events, and publications.