Architecture Research Office

Ana Miljački speaks with Adam Yarinsky, Stephen Cassell, and Kim Yao of Architecture Research Office about professional versus academic research, how adhering to pre-articulated values affects relationships with clients, and the benefits and drawbacks of being generalists.

Recorded on May 6, 2024

Architecture Research Office

Adam Yarinsky and Stephen Cassell founded Architecture Research Office in New York City in 1993 with the belief that curiosity and inquiry could be the basis of a new type of architecture practice. In 1997, they were joined by Kim Yao. In its more than 30 years of operation, the firm (now headquartered in Brooklyn) has engaged with a broad range of typologies in order to design spaces that inspire people, further institutional missions, and advance equity and resilience. ARO’s work spans art and educational institutions, housing, private homes, speculative urban and development plans, interiors, and products, as well as material and institutional research, adaptive reuse, and significant “ground-up” work.

Recent projects include the Kayak Pavilion at Long Dock Park, Khalil Gibran International Academy, PS 456 in Brooklyn, a series of Knoll showrooms, the renovation of the Judd Foundation and home in Soho, and the Rothko Chapel in Houston. Yarinsky and Cassell, both currently teaching at MIT, have influenced students across the US educational landscape.The firm is the recipient of the 2020 AIA architecture firm award, the AIA New York State Firm of the Year Award, and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Award for architecture. Yao served as president of AIA New York in 2020 and currently sits on the board of the Center for Architecture. Adam is a former Places journal board member and Cassell is the former board chair of Van Alen Institute.

About I Would Prefer Not To

Conceived and produced by MIT’s Critical Broadcasting Lab and presented with The Architectural League, I Would Prefer Not To1Herman Melville, “Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street,” The Piazza Tales (1856). tackles a usually unexamined subject: the refusal of an architectural commission. Why do architects make the decision to forfeit the possibility of work? At what point is a commission not worth it? When in one’s career is it necessary to make such a decision? Whether concealed out of politeness or deliberately shielded from public scrutiny, architects’ refusals usually go unrecorded by history, making them difficult to analyze or learn from. In this series of recorded interviews, I Would Prefer Not To aims to shed light on the complex matrix of agents, stakeholders, and circumstances implicated in every piece of architecture.


Transcript forthcoming.