April 30, 2015

Recorded: March 12, 2015

The Architectural League’s Emerging Voices program annually spotlights North American architects, landscape architects, and urban designers who have significant bodies of realized work and the potential to influence their field.

Brian Phillips of ISA is a 2015 winner of the award.

Driven by a philosophy of “radical pragmatism,” Interface Studio Architects (ISA) pairs formally compelling design with an economy of means and a strong environmental agenda. Founded in 2004 by Brian Phillips in Philadelphia, the firm responds to the challenges of the post-industrial urban environment — in particular, the 40,000 vacant lots pockmarking the city—and addresses contemporary needs through urban infill.

In his Emerging Voices lecture, Phillips details current and recent projects, with particular attention to the massing, layout, and construction techniques that make ISA’s projects economically feasible while offering innovative design. The 100K Houses, developed with Postgreen Homes and named for their price point, are a series of starter homes aimed at young professionals, a “missing layer of the market” in Philadelphia. Other residential projects in Philadelphia include The Modules, a pre-fab apartment building that went from design to move-in in 14 months; The Chalet, a small apartment building whose form responds to unusual zoning constraints and the adjacent elevated train; and Renewbold, a rowhouse development in South Philly. While rooted in Philadelphia, ISA’s work extends to the Roxbury E+ homes in Boston, attached rowhouses with a net-positive energy rating; Flexhouse in Chicago, a two-phase rowhouse project with facades that “create variety in repetition”; and Mass Logic, a supportive housing development in Syracuse that engages the potential for spatial design to encourage positive health impacts. Across scales and typologies, ISA’s work is characterized by a strategic approach to challenging urban sites that creates environments that fit contemporary urban needs.

Recorded: March 12, 2015

ISA’s awards include an AIA National Housing Award in 2011, U.S. Green Building Council LEED Homes Project of the Year in 2010, Treehugger.com Residential Architect of the Year in 2010, and the Philadelphia Emerging Architecture Prize in 2008. Phillips received his M.Arch from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and a Visiting Professor at Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. He has taught previously at Parsons The New School for Design and University of Miami.