• Cities, Inc.
    Simon McGown, George Valdes & David Zhai

Google community wifi, 2013, New York. Courtesy of the authors.

Cities, Inc. investigates key cities across the United States, cataloging the various ways in which paternalistic corporations have reorganized relationships between domestic life and the workplace. These cities provide a cross-section through the history of corporate town-planning during key moments in the evolution of work within the United States. The research explicates the terms of this evolution and provides a framework through which the profession and the general public can better understand the effects of a world in which the interiority of the home and the office park have become increasingly hybridized and indistinguishable.

Simon McGown is the cofounder of CO-office NYC LLC, a spatial design and applied research consultancy focused on the intersection of work, live, and play based in Harlem and SoHo, New York. Before founding CO-office in the summer of 2014, he worked at a number of architecture firms including Morphosis Architects and Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. He is driven to design for clients not only in the creation of new types of space to fit their needs but also in developing new forms of culture to fit their lives in community-driven residential, work environment, and hospitality design. He is also an instructor at Pratt Institute, where he teaches the fundamentals of architecture. He received his MArch from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and was awarded the William Kinne Traveling Fellowship upon graduation. He received his BS in Architecture from Texas Tech University, graduating summa cum laude.

George Valdes is the director of design at Augmate, a New York-based startup focused on bringing wearables to the enterprise. He is also an adjunct instructor at Florida International University, and cofounder of Built-In, a community of design and construction industry professionals who exchange ideas concerning entrepreneurship and business. Additionally, he has held associate in architecture positions in the Architecture and Real Estate Development Program at Columbia University's GSAPP, where he also served as an Adjunct Associate Research Scholar at the Center for Urban Real Estate. He received his MArch degree from GSAPP, where he was the recipient of the Alpha Rho Chi Medal for Leadership, Service and Merit; the Avery 6 Student Award; and the William Kinne Traveling Fellowship. His bachelor's degree in landscape architecture was awarded from Florida International University, where he also received the ASLA Honor Award.

David Zhai is an associate in architecture at Columbia University's GSAPP. Together with Karla Rothstein, he has taught in both the advanced studios and the core studios for the Master of Architecture Program. In addition to his academic work, David is also a designer at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), where he is currently working on a master-planning project in Honolulu, Hawaii. Zhai's work and research often centers on the intersection of life, work, and play, and their inherent opportunities to create new and hybridized spaces. Zhai was the recipient of the Design Excellence Award for his work while at GSAPP, as well as the Lowenfish Memorial Award for his graduating project in Shohei Shigematsu's studio in the Masters in Architecture Program. He was also a recipient of the William Kinne Traveling Fellowship Award.