mcdowellespinosa | Interview

The Architectural League Prize 2015
Seth McDowell and Rychiee Espinosa

Seth McDowell and Rychiee Espinosa explore ideas of transformation in architectural practice, often seeking to convert materials with a negative connotation or condition into something to be appreciated. Working from two distant locations — Scottsville, VA and Brooklyn, NY — mcdowellespinosa takes advantage of the two designers’ “opposing, complementary viewpoints” in their translation of idea to built form.

For their Authenticity installation, the two investigated and reimagined different operations and materials from past projects. Espinosa and McDowell each built three models — composed of wax and water, chewing gum and spearmint leaves, and wood — that were then paired together. “This would be the Miles Davis version of the clip model and this would be the Philip Glass version of the clip model,” Espinosa joked. Collectively, they demonstrate how the “individual fingerprints” of a designer arise even when both work with the same materials and rules.


Seth McDowell earned a B.S. in design from Clemson University and an M.Arch from Columbia University GSAPP. Espinosa earned a B.S. in Biology from Indiana University, a B.S. in Architecture from Lawrence Technological University, and an M.Arch from Columbia University GSAPP. McDowell is an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. mcdowellespinosa’s work has been exhibited at Beyond the Urban Edge: ‘The Ideal City’ curated by Colin Fournier at the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture–Hong Kong.

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 2015 League Prize feature for more information about this year’s winners and the theme of Authenticity. See the complete list of past winners here.