FF – Distance Edition: AGENCY

The El Paso-based interdisciplinary practice opens its studio for a virtual visit and conversation.

December 3, 2020
7:00 p.m.

AGENCY | Selfie Wall, El Paso, 2016. Image courtesy AGENCY

The League’s monthly First Friday events are informal social gatherings that allow members to visit the offices of leading design practices and see work on the boards.

This fall and winter, the League’s monthly First Friday series is shifting to a new online format, as well as a new day of the week: Thursday. Expanding our reach beyond New York City, each event explores design practices that operate in multiple roles—coupling architecture with initiatives including design advocacy, fabrication research, and community engagement.

Each program, conducted onsite at an office or recent project, consists of brief presentations about the practice and its work, relationship to the local context, and impetus for creating alternative modes of practice. An informal conversation with attendees follows.

On Thursday, December 3, the event will be hosted by El Paso-based AGENCY, who will join from their office in Daniel Burnham’s Union Station. Founded by Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller, AGENCY is a collaborative interdisciplinary practice engaging contemporary culture through architecture, urbanism, and advocacy. The partners describe their practice as positioning “architectural design as a systemic instrumentation of material ecologies, social constituencies, political policies, and ethical thought.” As both researchers and designers, Kripa and Mueller “embrace confrontational roles to create objects, forms, spaces, databases, and arguments which instrumentalize spatial justice.”

Based in El Paso, on the US–Mexico border, the practice’s work addresses conflictual contexts and develops methods to identify, appropriate, and subvert urban and atmospheric events that violate human rights. Kripa and Mueller also direct POST (Project for Operative Spatial Technologies), a research center at Texas Tech University College of Architecture, where they work on issues of desertification and urbanization in the US–Mexico border region.

Current projects include:

  • Irradiated Shade, a project that explores the unseen dangers of solar radiation—a growing threat to cities, buildings, and bodies throughout the US–Mexico border—where its physiological effects are relentlessly rendered upon vulnerable populations.
  • UV Shade Pavilion, an ongoing project to develop a shade structure able to protect users from UVB radiation.
  • Simulated Cities Database, the first publicly accessible geospatial database of simulated military training urban environments around the world.

The conversation will be moderated by Iker Gil, director of MAS Studio, founder and editor in chief of the nonprofit MAS Context, and executive director of the SOM Foundation. He is currently the co-curator of Exhibit Columbus 2020-2021.