By the People: Designing a Better America Exhibit

By Shawn Evans

By the People: Designing a Better America, a new exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, opened on September 30th. This groundbreaking exhibit is the third in a series of exhibits on socially responsible design. The first exhibition in the series to focus on conditions in the U.S. and its bordering countries, “By the People” explores the challenges faced by urban, suburban and rural communities. Organized by Cynthia E. Smith, Cooper Hewitt’s curator of socially responsible design, the exhibition features 60 design projects from every region across the U.S., including the work of AOS Architects at Ohkay Owingeh in New Mexico. The projects displayed present an inspiring range of initiatives, policies, and projects that provoke change through community engagement and designed opportunity. We were pleased to take the curators on a tour of the Owe’neh Bupingeh Preservation Project two years ago and are honored to be included in this impressive collection of work.

The exhibition catalogue begins with one of Kate Russell’s beautiful photographs of Ohkay Owingeh and includes a chapter on the project. In Smith’s introductory essay, our work is called out as an alternative approach to historic preservation that “values the life of the pueblo and inhabitation over strict historic replication and material conservation.” The catalogue also features an essay by our colleague Dr. Theodore Jojola of the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute (iD+Pi) at UNM. His piece, “The People are Beautiful Already: Indigenous Design and Planning,” is an excellent primer on the issues facing Native America and the ways in which design and planning must be re-imagined an indigenous context. AOS Architects was pleased to collaborate with iD+Pi on the recent Plaza Revitalization Plan for Pueblo de Cochiti, which is described in his essay.

The exhibit is on display until February 26, 2017.

Read more about the exhibit: 

NY Times