We are a creative practice working across spheres of architecture, urbanism, social sculpture, and large scale public art. Our work focuses on innovative cultural projects ranging in scale from master-plans to buildings and spaces of any size. These projects frequently begin with strategic partnerships beyond the typical space of architectural practice. Our work is often the result of self-initiated research and design. What we do is based on optimistic speculations for how people and the built environment affect one another. We believe the most exciting moments in the history of art and architecture are the creation of new forms and uses of space. Our process pursues an architecture that affects relationships between its constituents, their environment, and their unique identities.
Project: A Primary school with shared civic programs for the town of Chýně, Czech Republic
Team: Vincent Appel with Andrew Weigand, Tanawat Vichaiwatanapanich, Xiao Chen, Ye Zhang, and Mario Mohan of AFOAM
Architect of Record: Boyarsky Murphy Architects, Nicolas Boyarsky and Nicola Murphy
Status: International Competition
Client: The municipality of Chýně, Czech Republic
Project: Multiform gallery and office suite for A.I.R. Gallery
Team: Vincent Appel, Heather Pfister
Client: A.I.R. Gallery
A WEAK ARCHITECTURE OF LIMINALITY, NEGATIVE CAPABILITY, AND RELATIONAL TECTONICS
The difference between architecture and design is an ideological one. Usually everything that is architecture has been designed. However, not all design is architecture. Architecture enables people to live differently. Done well, it provides agency and occasion where there was none. We offer an architecture that provokes A.I.R. to operate differently while accommodating three years of pre-determined programming. At the most basic level there is always space in the plan for new programming. In less than 2,000 square feet there is both traditional presentation of art and a space for abstract thinking about A.I.R.
The tangible geometry of the architecture is second to the presence of art. The architecture is in the foreground only in moments of transition. As audiences move between galleries or as they shift their gaze from one show to the next, the idea of the architecture reveals itself.
The rigid spatial and ideological constraints of a strong architecture are avoided. A weak architecture is instead developed for the galleries. Iconoclastic virtues are given primacy: inclusion over separation, mutability instead of singularity, overlap not isolation, and equivalency by way of difference. These are nothing less than literal effects of the architecture and metaphors for A.I.R.’s identity. Romance and nostalgia for a white cube or a raw industrial space were considered and then abandoned.
Visual and spatial continuity is calibrated. As the eye’s 40° to 90° field of view (FOV) glances between galleries or as the body moves between passages, the thresholds between spaces are brought to the foreground. Otherwise, the geometries are a platonic background. Vignettes are created for the art and the devices that communicate them: cameras and phones with their ~90° and >30° FOV respectively. Beyond that, the periphery is a blur of light, shadow, and loose meaning.
Present and absent audiences belong to the experience of art. On their way between spaces and images the breadth of A.I.R.’s identity presents itself. At the brief moments of threshold, these ideas are available to the liminal space of the mind. The provocation doesn’t occlude art. It draws the audience closer to A.I.R. The passive among the audience are welcomed to participate.
A.I.R. is not only an art gallery. The presence of the art that is shown while fulfilling its member services is one crucial component of a larger mission. Biasing one element of the mission or a particular type of work should not cast a shadow over the other dimensions of A.I.R. In 1972 A.I.R.’s was an alternative space. The concept was to show art and provide women artists with a negative capability — the resources and capacity to change the context of their art world.
Can architecture do that? Probably not. However, we now know it can engender that idea through a unique conception of space — the primal, unconventional, and unique architecture of A.I.R. we proposed. This was an architecture of relational tectonics, space for new programming, new audiences, and new ideas. It was conceived as a platform for women artists in 2015 and all of A.I.R.’s alternative agendas.
Project: Multiform gallery and office suite for the Staten Island Arts Council
Team: Vincent Appel, Brygida Michon, Frankline Romero Jr., Tomonori Tsujita, Jim Wene, Anette Franek
Architect of Record: Allen Killcoyne Architects
Construction Manager: Hunter Roberts Construction Group
MEP Engineer: Irwin Associates
Project: A multiform gallery, office, bookstore, and event space for the Van Alen Institute
Team: Vincent Appel, Ethan October Lay-Sleeper, Jaime Magaliff, Paul Miller, Heather Murtagh, Mario Mohan, Franklin Romero Jr, Emily Ruopp Mata
Status: Invited Competition
Client: The Van Alen Institute
Date: 2011 – Ongoing
Status: In progress
Client: Self initiatedFeatured TEDx Dumbo 2012 Action Pitch
2012 New York State Council on The Arts Independent Project Award
Institute for Urban Design 2011 1st place “By the City / For the City” competition
Published in “The Atlas of Possibility for the Future of New York,” 2011
Project: Coastal Housing Prototype
Team: Vincent Appel, Ethan Lay-Sleeper, Franklin Romero Jr., Halina Steiner, Tanawat Vichaiwatanapanich
Status: Research commission
Research supported by: Practitioner / Scholar Michael Kalil Grant for Smart Design
Status: In Process
Project: Social sculpture, panel discussion, and workshop at the BMW Guggenheim Lab.
Team: Vincent Appel, Everett Hollander
App Development: Captain Daylight, Paul Christophe
Participants: Playlab, Marion Wilson, Tattfoo Tan, Public Workshop
Client: The Guggenheim
Status: On Hold
Team: Completed as the Social Sculpture Collaborative with the Syracuse University Sculpture Department: Vincent Appel, Marco Camacho, Dave Clayton, Julia Dalton, Roslyn Esperon, Sam Harmon, David Harris, Nicolette Harvish, Yun-Pei Hsiung, Jessica Posner, Zach Seibold, Marion Wilson, Arjan Zasueta (with Matt Rink, Bland Hoke)
As Saarinen would hardly be seen as a descendant of the “Modern Architecture: International Exhibition of 1932” he is thus not part of the first story of the avant-garde, which is to say; Saarinen was not channeling a European modernism let alone complicit with the decor de la vie Rowe was referring to. As he predates the second story for the avant-garde, Saarinen must belong to another avant-garde altogether. Even if one could loosely associate Saarinen with the heritage of the first story of the avant-garde, his work is more clearly descendant from the likes of Bragdon, Sullivan and Wright.
Acknowledged and awarded as an organicist, Saarinen is also notable if not infamous for his astylistic designs. In fact, he was often critiqued as lacking consistent style. Saarinen was not so much aligned with an organic style, as he was with a style of thinking. This astylistic approach was necessitated by the range of clientele and associated building types Saarinen designed for. In particular, the urbanism and suburbanism of Saarinen’s corporate clients inflected his designs with intentionally alternative identities. This was, on the one hand, a result of the necessity for corporate branding. On the other hand, his design strategies willfully engaged or resisted the context of suburban and modern-rural American landscapes as well as the urbanism of Manhattan.
Nowhere is this more clearly seen than the fired Canadian black granite stone which was used for the facade of the CBS building. All at once, Saarinen brand’s the modernist skyscraper where its differentiation is most homogenized, on the facade, and nods to the heritage of Sullivan, Bragdon and Wright. If granite, marble and travertine were the slick veneers of corporate America’s luxurious interiors, Saarinen turned mid-century modern architecture’s corporeality inside out and held it to fire.
The architecture of the Atelier Bow Wow’s BMW Guggenheim Lab was that of a public street. By floating the support infrastructure of the multiform program space above, zones of defined and implied programing were carefully calibrated on the ground plane. This strategy left the empty lot’s parti walls visible and unadorned. Their texture became part of the visual identity of the space. The cutting-edge carbon fiber structure above was designed for utility and drama. This was achieved by simultaneously amplifying the reading of the structure as a volume and clearly defining the volume of program space below.
The project deployed an aesthetic of contrast over self-similarity. The result was an exquisite palimpsest of the ground plane, texture of the parti walls, newness, elegance, and innovation above. The project was a stage for adaptability and flexibility. It was a rare example of delicate yet legible spatial articulation, hi-tec and low-tec utility, and a direct civic spatial gesture — the architecture framed its content from the street and framed the street looking out. The space of the street was allowed to pass directly through these frames and into the pavilion, modulated by furniture, curtains, and other programming elements.
Walter De Maria’s 1977 “Earth Room” instills a deep sense of curiosity for understanding the nature of space, architecture, and the city. The Earth Room causes an immediate and permanent sense of wonder about the possibility of our city — and architecture & urbanism at large. It is a public room open to anyone who is inquisitive. All manner of urban and architectural ecologies intersect in the Earth Room with great attention. This is achieved with ingenious tectonic articulation and an absolute control over architecture. The project makes present the forces which give architecture and the city shape and shape our experiences within it. It reminds us that architecture and urbanism are full of exception and normality, challenging us to seek out and understand both. It compels one to tell other people about it, and that is how it is discovered. It is part of a network of cultural infrastructure and is an act of cultural production itself. Its presence in the collective imagination of our city is discursive and mutable.
14/03/13 — Spring 2014 Fashion Institute of Technology Seminar
Vincent Appel is an Instructor, teaching a seminar on the measures and mythologies of sustainable design thinking.
14/02/27 — Lecture & Workshop: “A New Form of Civic Architecture”
Vincent Appel presents Of Possible Architectures’ work with the Staten Island Arts Council — a project for a new form of civic programming and architecture in New York City. The project which is currently under construction is a prototype for arts councils nationally.
14/01/21 — Workshop: Chipotle Design Prototype Ideation
Of Possible Architectures is working with Chipotle Mexican Grill on the design of a new store prototype. To kick off the project we are leading a design ideation workshop at their headquarters in Denver.
13/10/08 — Lecture: “Sustainabilities” at Fashion Institute of Technology
Vincent Appel will present Of Possible Architectures’ work as examples of economic, social, and environmental sustainability in design. The lecture will take place at 7:30 pm on October, 10th 2013 as part of the Sustainable Design Entrepreneurs program.
13/07/25 — OPA is shortlisted for the Van Alen Institute Competition.
13/02/25 — Kalil Grant Award
Vincent Appel has been awarded the Practitioner / Scholar Michael Kalil Grant for Smart Design. The grant will be used to develop a coastal housing prototype for single-family residences located in the FEMA 100 year Flood Plain along the East Coast of the United States.
13/01/14 — Spring 2013 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Mick McConnell
Vincent Appel is an Instructor, co-teaching a studio focused on the design of a headquarters for Spotify located on the site of the Old Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO.
12/09/04 — Fall 2012 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Jing Liu
Vincent Appel is an Instructor, co-teaching a design studio focused on multi-unit domestic architecture in New York City.
12/04/01 — Art Bar wins 2012 NYSCA Architecture + Design Grant
The New York State Council on the Arts awards Vincent Appel and Heather Pfister an independent project grant for a feasibility of Art Bar as a viable proposal for cultural infrastructure on the Staten Island Ferry.
12/01/14 — Spring 2012 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Susannah Drake and Halina Steiner
Vincent Appel is an Instructor, co-teaching a design studio focused on alternative architectural and landscape urbanism developments within the Brooklyn Navy Yard masterplan.
11/10/02 — Urban by Nature at the BMW Guggenheim Lab: NYC
Vincent Appel and Everett Hollander moderate a day long panel discussion and series of workshops with PlayLab, Tattfoo, Public Workshop, and Marion Wilson exploring a contemporary and evolving definition of urbanism as a creative process.
11/09/04 — Fall 2011 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Richard Gluckman
Vincent Appel is an Instructor, co-teaching a design studio focused on institutional transparency and framed space. The program is a museum at the corner of 30th Street and 10th Avenue next to the High Line in Manhattan.
11/07/31 — Art Bar is awarded 1st place by The Institute for Urban Design in the By the City / For the City Competition.
11/02/11 — Supermodels: An Investigation into the Architectural Design Process Model
Vincent Appel moderates a day-long event on the role of the architectural model including discussions with Joshua Prince-Ramus at the Syracuse University School of Architecture New York City Studio, Craig Dykers at the Snøhetta NYC model shop, and Hiroshi Nakayama at the Rafael Viñoly NYC model shop.
11/01/23 — Spaces that Teach / Spaces that Learn
Vincent Appel in discussion at the Storefront for Art and Architecture with Wendy Woon, Mohammad Sharif, David van der leer, Laura Kurgan, Nader Voussoughian, Dan Michaelson, Preeti Sriratana, Karen Wong, Felicity Scott, Florian Idenburg, and Jing Liu.
11/01/14 — Spring 2011 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Gregg Pasquarelli
Vincent Appel is an Instructor, co-teaching a design studio focused on the development of the Hudson Rail Yards.
10/09/04 — Fall 2010 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Joshua Prince-Ramus
Vincent Appel is an Instructor, co-teaching a design studio focused on the development of a Lower Manhattan branch extension to the New York Public Library.
10/06/23 — News From Somewhere: On the Production of Culture
Vincent Appel moderates a panel discussion on the means and methods by which alternative forms of cultural infrastructure are realized in New York City. Panelists include Robert Elmes, Eva Franch, Jason Goodman, Melanie Cohn, and Jon Lott at the Syracuse University School of Architecture New York City Studio.
10/06/02 — Summer 2010 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio
Vincent Appel leads an eight week design research studio funded by the Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund to study the design of a new form of civic architecture for the Staten Island Arts Council in collaboration with Jon Lott.
10/03/20 — AMP receives a Jury Selection award from the AIANY Emerging NY Architects Committee.
Arts Manufacturing Park is a proposal for cultural infrastructure and the adaptive re-use of the High Bridge Park pedestrian bridge, Harlem River Drive overpass, and old Harlem River Speedway Steps.
10/03/05 — Digital Modeling for Urban Design Workshop at Chu Hai College of Architecture, Hong Kong
Vincent Appel leads a week long workshop on digital modeling for urban design with Brian McGrath, Rex Wong, and Kerrie Butts at the Chu Hai Collage of Architecture in Hong Kong.
10/01/14 — Spring 2010 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Gregg Pasquarelli
Vincent Appel is an Assistant Instructor to Gregg Pasquarelli teaching a design studio focused on researching the urban and architectural design of super-blocks throughout Manhattan.
09/09/04 — Fall 2009 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Marc Tsurumaki
Vincent Appel is an Assistant Instructor to Mark Tsurumaki teaching a design studio focused on urban mobility.
09/08/15 — The 2009 Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund awarded to The Staten Island Arts Council.
Vincent Appel and Melanie Cohn, Executive Director of the Staten Island Arts Council, co-authored and conceptualized the awarded project.
09/4/01 — Vincent Appel is a juror for the Staten Island Arts’ Premier Grant Awards.
09/03/09 — MLAB is selected as a finalist for the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship.
The Mobile Literacy Arts Bus is a project by Vincent Appel in collaboration with the Social Sculpture Collaborative and Marion Wilson.
09/02/12 — Lecture and Workshop on Social Sculpture at Mass Art.
Vincent Appel leads a day long workshop on social sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design: Studio for Interrelated Media with Marion Wilson, Zach Seibold, Jessica Posner, and Sam Harmon.
09/01/14 — Spring 2009 Syracuse Architecture NYC Studio with Craig Dykers
Vincent Appel is an Assistant Instructor to Craig Dykers teaching a design studio focused on the 7 million vacant square feet located in the Financial District of Manhattan.
08/10/29 — Vincent Appel speaks at the Colgate School of Art & Art History with Zach Seibold and Jessica Posner.
08/10/18 — Global Responsibility Panel Discussion at the Center for Archtiecture, New York, NY
Vincent Appel and Jonathan Massey represent the Syracuse University School of Architecture in a panel discussion including Anthony Vidler, Reinhold Martin, Stan Allen, Robert Stern, George Ranalli, Jessica Lewis, Kent Kleinman, Urs Gauchat, Judith DiMaio, David Leven, Mark Mistu, Brian Carter, Keith Krumwiede, and others.
08/02/21 — Judith Seinfeld Distinguished Fellowship awarded to Vincent Appel
New Projects: Vincent@ofpossible.com
Of Possible Architectures
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Brooklyn, NY 11201
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