AMOA is a collaborative architecture and design studio co-founded by Amy DeDonato and Miroslava Brooks in 2016, though the two have been working together since 2009 when they first met in graduate school.
Amy holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Ohio State University, a Master of Architecture from Yale University, and a Master of Philosophy in Architecture from the University of Cambridge. She is currently an interaction designer at Magic Leap. Previously, she taught at the Yale School of Architecture and practiced architecture in New York City and London.
Miroslava holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Ohio State University and a Master of Architecture from Yale University. She is currently a faculty member at the Yale School of Architecture, teaching design and visualization courses. She previously taught at University of Pennsylvania School of Design and practiced architecture in Ohio, Connecticut and New York City.
Under the Dome
Proposal for 2017 Burnham Prize Competition organized by Chicago Architectural Club. From the competition organizers:
"New History is made not from a position of sentimentality toward style, but rather it must be critical of our past and used to inform architecture that is responsive to both its context and future inhabitants. This competition uses the historical and typological construct of the dome and calls for its critical re-imagination in the context of Make New History."
Our proposal: For hundreds of years, the mathematics of dome construction has been predicated on the assumption that the dome would be viewed from the ground plane through the eyes of the viewer. Thus domes are typically designed to direct one’s gaze upward to the heavens, symbolically connecting heaven and earth. In religious buildings the dome is the vertical culmination of a single volume – a sacred place of congregation designed through the virtues of physical presence. The dome represents a society rooted in humanist principles, whereby the body’s spatial relationship with architecture is calculable and measurable.
In the 21st century, however, the idea of presence has been radically redefined through information technology, social networks, and advancements in telecommunication. Today, physical boundaries offer just one form of spatial delineation.
This proposal aims to rethink the role of the dome within the contemporary context and asks the following questions:
1. How might the dome of St. Stephen’s church foster new forms of congregation?
2. Could St. Stephen’s church take on a new life through technology?
3. How could we rethink architectural restoration for the future?
We aim to rethink the physical boundaries of St. Stephen’s walls in order to draw attention to the site’s potential through a series of installations deployed through Chicago’s public spaces.
Traditionally, a dome’s capacity to unify the space below provided a physical centralized space of congregation. Here, the installations create a de-centralized space of the urban collective.
Each installation traces the geometry of the dome onto the ground of the city, creating an occupiable two-dimensional urban drawing. Inspired by unique floor patterns of historical domed buildings, the installations are painted onto the surface, made with adhesive vinyl, or composed of flat flooring material, such as wood and stone, depending on the context.
Curious Chicagoans and visitors who step inside the boundary of the urban drawing will be able to learn about St. Stephen’s church and view its interior through an augmented reality smartphone app. Visitors can virtually travel with friends or complete strangers into the space of St. Stephen’s, projected to scale above the ground drawing, and appreciate the beauty of this forgotten structure from unexpected contexts – such as public plazas, parks, and lakeside beaches of Chicago.
The aim of the project is to offer the church a potential opportunity to crowd-fund its future. Proposals from this competition could be viewed as app filters to help people experience the potential of what the site has to offer. Additionally, the consistent scale and detail of each installation creates a recognizable urban marker, activating the ground of the city.
Team members: Miroslava Brooks, Amy DeDonato, Valeria Vargas, Wes Hiatt
Minding the Gap: Pedagogy and Practice Today
Whether and how to close the gap between academia and practice is an age-old debate within the discipline of architecture. As tuition rates continue to climb and starting salary figures remain stagnant, an architecture graduate’s return on investment is at an unprecedented low. By getting students into the job market sooner and with greater technical proficiency, integrating professional practice into academia is a popular remedy. Here, we will examine why this is a short-sighted approach, given future changes within the architecture profession and our built environment. We will take stock of a degree in architecture and explore how architecture graduates could leverage their core skill set through a combination of architectural and entrepreneurial thinking to play a more powerful role within the industry and within domains traditionally considered outside of architecture.
— published in Scroope | Cambridge Architecture Journal
From the editors of Scroope 26:
"This issue of Scroope is devoted to stories of apologias in the context of architecture and spatial discourses in all their interpreted forms. We called out for and received apologias as reckonings, as attempts at reconciliation, as diversions, as declarations, as veiled or open criticisms, and as manifestos.
The range of contributions has proven the theme to be both timely and plastic. The apologias, although varied in medium and key concern, seem to coalesce along a series of sub themes, including apologias with pedagogical considerations, personal standpoints, historical readings of design and designers, the material natures of and in public space, the power of the image, the acts and activations of creative practices, and the poetic imagination.
Contributors include Anthony Vidler, Wendy Pullan, Ross Anderson, Peter Armstrong, Michael Robinson Cohen, Glen Hill, Claudio Sgarbi, Neil Spiller, Rowan Moore, Jonathan Weston, Luke Kon, Theodora Bowering, Jessie Fyfe, Maximilian Sternberg, Susan Seung-Ok Whang, Alex Young-Il Seo, Pushpa Arabindoo and Regan Koch, Amy DeDonato and Miroslava Brooks, Irit Katz, Anca Matyiku and Chad Connery, Peter Carl, Daniel Norell and Einar Rodhe, Federica Goffi, Benjamin Taylor, James Horace Vertigo (Roger Connah), Tom Heneghan."
Excerpt: If we understand design as a creative practice, what then is the role of imagination in architecture education and how important is it to teach students how to think beyond existing problems in architecture?
One of an architect’s biggest assets is his or her ability to envision other realities by producing something other than the real. As architects, we imagine possibilities and visualize the unseen. Architecture education encourages students not only to dream of other worlds, but more importantly, to materialize their ideas and give their imaginations concrete form through drawings, models, and simulations.
In its simplest definition, imagination is our creative ability to form images and ideas in our mind, beyond simple perception.
If reality is the existence of things as they are, imagination is unbound by our knowledge of the real world, offering instead possibilities of how the world might or could be. In short, imagination is a source of invention and innovation.
Reflection in the Garden
3rd prize winner
From the competition organizers: "The Blue Clay Country Spa competition pursues provocation of a decisive contemporary issue. The rise of sweeping urban migrations of the last quarter century coincides with a disciplinary preoccupation of architecture and the city, manifested in theory and praxis. This has all but left the vast expanse of any non-urban territory virtually uncertain. The competition invites participants to contemplate the economic, cultural, and architectural implications of inhabiting the non-urban, through an ecotourist facility in Latvia.
Viable submissions interrogate the inherent tensions between subject and object, building and site, leveraging established programmatic and site constraints. Particularly successful projects engage the agency of typological form — including for instance, the courtyard, shed, garden and pavilion. This is particularly significant in a landscape unadulterated by buildings. Selected entries establish social collectivity through circulation and parti, while prescribing distinct individual and programmatic experience through space, material, and form."
Jury commentary: "The strength of the third place entry lies in its combination of three architecture typologies, the courtyard, pavilion, and promenade, to generate a spa experience that is simultaneously containing and exposing. The project employs a circular promenade to create a defined perimeter within an expansive, rural site. The rigid perimeter is strategically broken down by the program contained within, creating a surprisingly outwardly engaging experience. The interior program of the spa is organized around a central gathering courtyard. The courtyard extends and crosses the perimeter promenade to create and define the building entry. The major circulation corridors pinwheel off from the central courtyard extending past the promenade to the landscape breaking down the program into isolated structures. Each structure contains a key programmatic element that is separated as a pavilion within a carved out courtyard. The pavilions take on distinct architectural forms defining unique spatial experiences for the programs they house. The small pavilion courts directly engage the perimeter promenade focusing the user to the exterior of the site while inviting the wanderer to simultaneously look in. The project creates a closed loop of retrospection allowing the visitor to reflect outwardly to the landscape while inhabiting each individual spa space, simultaneously reflecting back inwardly while wandering the exterior promenade."
Team members: Miroslava Brooks and Amy DeDonato.