Young & Ayata

The Architectural League Prize 2014
Young & Ayata
Kutan Ayata and Michael Young

In 2008, Kutan Ayata and Michael Young co-founded Young & Ayata with a commitment to experimentation and dedication to “explore novel formal and organizational possibilities in architecture and urbanism.” The Brooklyn-based partnership views “the reality of contemporary building as a provocation to the progression of experiments in form, material, and technology.” The firm’s work consists of commissions and experimental research, engaging with “contemporary cultural issues that influence and are influenced by our environment.” Recent projects include the competition scheme for an opera house in Busan, South Korea, and a conceptual master plan for the Aalto University Campus Center in Helsinki, Finland.

Young & Ayata is one of the winners of the 2014 Architectural League Prize, one of North America’s most prestigious awards for young architects and designers. The prize, established in 1981, recognizes exemplary and provocative work by young practitioners and provides a public forum — through lectures, an exhibition, and a catalogue — for the exchange of their ideas.

In the interview above, Ayata and Young describe their installation for the Overlay exhibit as a process of re-thinking and re-framing their work as their practice has matured. The nine frames — a row of drawings, a row of objects, and a row of building models — represent the firm’s engagement with realism and estrangement. Ayata and Young also share the significant value that teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels has on their work.


Kutan Ayata and Michael Young, Young & Ayata, League Prize 2014, complete lecture video | Recorded June 26, 2014 

In their League Prize lecture, the partners describe their interest in exploring the tension between reality and its representation and the role of “estrangement” in architecture. The two detail four recent projects: their Overlay gallery installation; Guilded Splinter 69, a series of line drawings that resembles digital images rendered with modeling software; Donkeys & Feathers, a translation of these drawings into fabricated objects then painted into Dutch still lifes; and a competition entry for the Busan Opera House, which challenges the opera house archetype by integrating the landscape into the building.

Click the image to launch a slideshow of work by Young & Ayata.

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Kutan Ayata received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and a Masters in Architecture from Princeton University, where he was a recipient of the Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Thesis Prize. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute’s GAUD and a Lecturer at University of Pennsylvania. Michael Young received a Bachelor of Architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Masters of Architecture from Princeton University, where he was also the recipient of the Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Thesis Prize and the Howard Crosby Butler Traveling Fellowship in Architecture. He is an Assistant Professor at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union and teaches in the core graduate design studio at the Yale University School of Architecture.

The Architectural League Prize, established in 1981, recognizes exemplary and provocative work by young practitioners and provides a public forum for the exchange of their ideas. 

Visit the 2014 League Prize feature for more information about this year’s winners, the theme of Overlay, and photos of the exhibition installation. See the complete list of past winners here.

Villa Al-Mezhar | courtesy of Young & Ayata

Tangency | courtesy of Young & Ayata

Still life after Pieter Claesz, with Emmanuel Osorno | courtesy of Young & Ayata

Guilded Splinters — Number 19 | courtesy of Young & Ayata

Busan Opera House | courtesy of Young & Ayata

Busan Opera House | courtesy of Young & Ayata

Busan Opera House | courtesy of Young & Ayata

Busan Opera House | courtesy of Young & Ayata

Busan Opera House | courtesy of Young & Ayata