The architectural uncanny

February 26, 2018

The League Prize, an annual competition that asks young designers to respond to a given theme, has marked an important milestone in many architects’ careers since it was established in 1981. Winners showcase their work through a lecture series and exhibition.

Thom Moran won a 2015 award.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based designer uses humor as a means to provoke a “momentary stopping and reconsidering of the world” and to “root out rigidity of thinking.” He uses the uncanny or weird to offer a critique of practice as well as investigate underexplored ideas in the discipline.

His Authenticity installation is a series of updated caryatids — part column and part human form — that draw from their history as a warning to one’s enemies through figures representing enslaved women. Modeled from 3D body scans of Moran and his associates and built of heavy-gauge aluminum foil and insulation foam, the forms’ incongruity finds humor in their strangeness.

A bonus for literary buffs: Moran details why satirical author George Saunders is his current “favorite person in the world.”