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: Cooper Street
Design Architect: Of Possible
Team: Vincent Appel, Paul Miller, Tram Anh Nguyen
Architect of Record: Thomas Barry / OPerA Studio
Structural Engineer: Ashettino Associates
MEP Engineer: 2LS
Date: 2016 – 2018
Client: Fasano Group
Project: Home in East Hampton
Design Architect: Of Possible
Team: Vincent Appel, Paul Miller, Vladana Mijanovic
Landscape: Of Possible and Barry Block Landscape
Structural Engineer: Bluesky Design
Building Science: BldgTyp
Images: Site Image
Date: 2018 – 2019
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
Project: A new museum for archaeology in Nicosia, Cyprus.
The New Cyprus Museum translates practice and process of archaeology into architectural and urban experience. Buildings are positioned to create a campus of obscured objects, just out of full view from visitors approaching the site.
The gallery building is organized around a large atrium. Its floor is imagined as an archaeologist’s survey grid open to the galleries below. This space creates a micro-climate and diffuse lighting for display, preservation, and experience of artifacts. Upon entry, visitors experience an overview of the entire collection. Descending down into the galleries, visitors access different time periods or themes directly.
Within the city, the landscape creates a new public amenity. Within the landscape, open spaces reveal the obscured museum buildings. Within the atrium, artifacts are revealed through a perforated floor. This series of nested experiences amplifies the mission of the New Cyprus Museum within its urban context—to raise awareness and generate excitement about the rich archaeological history of the region.
Team: Vincent Appel, Lauren Bierly, Travis Fitch, Charles Garcia, Paul Miller, Tram Anh Nguyen, Alex Wilk, Mian Ye
Status: International Competition
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
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
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: 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
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.
Of Possible Architectures is led by Vincent Appel and Paul Miller with offices in New York City and Boston.
Vincent has been leading the studio in New York City since 2008. He has led the design, management, and construction of architectural, urban design, and public sculpture projects in New York City and throughout the country. He has established and maintained successful partnerships with industry experts for projects in Helsinki, the Caribbean, California, Florida, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York City. Vincent was recently the recipient of the 2013 Practitioner / Scholar Michael Kalil Grant for Smart Design. His work has received support and been awarded by the Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, and Institute for Urban Design. From 2009 to 2014 Vincent was simultaneously the program coordinator for the Syracuse University School of Architecture New York City Program and an instructor co-teaching more than a dozen design studios with architects including Craig Dykers, Joshua Prince-Ramus, Richard Gluckman, Marc Tsurumaki, Susannah Drake, and Gregg Pasquarelli. Vincent holds a Bachelor’s in Architecture from Syracuse University, 2008.
Paul joined OPA in 2018 with 10 years of experience working on large-scale residential, commercial, and cultural projects for internationally renowned offices including SHoP Architects, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Bjarke Ingels Group, and Utile. He earned the Bachelor of Architecture cum laude from Syracuse University where he was awarded the James Britton Memorial Prize for his thesis project, and completed graduate work at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His work has been exhibited at the Center for Architecture in New York City and he has been a contributing author to the Young Architects Forum. He has served as a guest critic for studios at Northeastern University, the Boston Architectural College and Syracuse University. He is a licensed architect in New York State, a LEED accredited professional, and a member of the Syracuse University Generation Orange Leadership Council.
New Projects: Vincent@ofpossible.com
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