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Request for Proposals


In February 2022, the Center for Architecture will present Reset: Towards a New Commons, an exhibition analyzing architecture’s role in envisioning new dynamics of living and community. Contemporary American culture is increasingly disconnected, with people divided by needs, generations, and beliefs. The disconnection has been exacerbated by the enduring COVID-19 pandemic and has been illuminated by the growing racial justice movement. The exhibition will explore the belief that environments that foster cooperation, interaction, and mutual assistance can be an antidote to the intense divisions in American life. 

The negative impacts of social estrangement extend, but are not limited to, the isolation of aging populations and people with disabilities. Cities, suburbs, and rural areas wittingly and unwittingly separate certain groups from larger communities in favor of spaces designed according to age, needs, or income, but their well-being would be improved by active inclusion in society. Rather than designing specific spaces for specific needs, the exhibition considers how spaces may be designed for all, addressing the need for barrier-free environments and practices rooted in Universal Design. Reset: Towards a New Commons will explore how architecture can address this while helping to create communities that foster inclusion in the broadest of terms. 

The exhibition will present several historic and contemporary case studies that demonstrate ways in which designers have helped foster community, many of them focusing on specific target groups—isolated religious communes, parents-to-be, people with disabilities, or seniors with dementia. However, Reset: Towards a New Commons hopes to prompt designers to think beyond these examples and envision radically different environments that promote a broader and more holistic approach to inclusion. To achieve this, the Center for Architecture has launched a nationwide RFP to solicit three proposals from three interdisciplinary teams that envision environments that encourage new ways of living collaboratively. Proposed sites will be located throughout the country, encompassing the regional differences that characterize the United States.  


Selected teams will study and propose projects that explore new ways of staying together, considering cross-generational living and designing for different abilities, but also broader ideas around inclusion and access.  

We hope that these proposals will operate beyond the individual unit, addressing environments of multiple scales and exploring ideas of process and policy. The RFP calls for provocative and realizable proposals that reimagine patterns of living and community building. Selected teams will choose sites throughout the country to encompass the diverse environments that characterize the United States.  

Teams are encouraged to develop their ideas around one or more of three typologies: living (both permanent and temporary), healing, and gathering.  

  • Living: Permanent structures such as single-family homes, multi-family homes, public housing developments, and walk-up apartments. Designs for temporary residential facilities servicing marginalized communities such as those experiencing homelessness or survivors of domestic violence.  
  • Healing: Healthcare facilities including hospitals and psychiatric facilities, caregiving spaces, and elder care facilities.  
  • Gathering: Architectural interventions for the public realm that could include streetscape designs, waterfront projects, and transit systems.  

The exhibition, opening in February 2022, will present and contextualize these proposals. Chosen teams will be required to represent their project in mediums that could include but are not limited to architectural renderings and drawings, period and contemporary photographs, digital media, and three-dimensional models. All content will be developed in consultation with exhibition curators and designer.


  • One member of the team must be a licensed architect. Proof of licensure will be required.   
  • Team must be multidisciplinary and include non-architects (including, potentially, psychologists, health care experts, and social scientists).   
  • All team members will be required to demonstrate engagement through commitment letters outlining their participation in the project.  
  • The majority of the team should be based in the United States. 


Teams must submit one landscape-oriented, 11”x17”, 10-page PDF submission (6MB maximum). PDFs that do not conform to this format will be disqualified.   

First Round
First-round submissions must contain:  

  • A statement of interest that addresses a design philosophy, an approach to accessibility, and an adherence to the ethos of Universal Design and barrier-free environments.  
  • A description of a potential project or projects for exploration.   
  • A portfolio of existing design work, implemented or not, that offers new modes of thinking about and creating thoughtful accessible design.   
  • Brief biographies and commitment letters for all team members  

 All entries will be reviewed by a jury digitally.  

Second Round 
Second-round finalists will be interviewed and asked to identify the following: 

  • Two proposed sites in the United States, with at least one outside of New York City. The site can be an existing structure in need of retrofitting or a site for new construction.  

Selected teams will discuss their proposed project with the curatorial team via video conference.   

The winning teams will be required to design one site of their choosing for inclusion in the exhibition. Selected teams will receive a $7,500 stipend toward the creation of exhibition content. 


Submission deadline: April 7, 2021
Extended deadline: April 16, 2021
Finalist interviews
: Week of May 25, 2021
Finalist materials due to curators: November 2021
Exhibition opening: February 2022 

Barry Bergdoll
Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, 19th- and 20th-century Architectural History, Columbia University
Juliana Barton
Independent Historian and Curator 
Advisory Committee
Karen Braitmayer, FAIA
Founder and Managing Principal, Studio Pacifica
Rosanne Haggerty
President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Solutions
Amy Hurst
Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development and Department of Technology, Culture and Society, Tandon School of Engineering, New York University
Xian Horn
Disability Advocate
Marc Norman
Associate Professor of Practice, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan
Peter Robinson
Board Member, BlackSpace Urbanist Collective
Barbara Weinreich, Assoc. AIA
Director of Undergraduate Programs, New York School of Interior Design


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