Partners Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu may be green to the architectural field, having only established their Brooklyn-based firm Solid Objectives - Idenburg Liu (SO-IL) in 2007, but that doesn’t mean the duo isn’t ready to play in the big leagues. SO-IL recently captured the 2010 Young Architects Award (scroll to end for video of their winning project), hosted by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and P.S.1 Young Architects Program, and are one of five finalists in an international competition for architects under the age of 35 to design student housing in Athens, Greece. With experience in museum architecture, academia, corporate architecture, and the hospitality industry—and recent projects including a shell-shaped wedding chapel in Nanjing, China; a museum for contemporary art near The Hague; as well as a project space for Kukje Gallery in Seoul—SO-IL is ready to embrace the future with optimism and an undeniable passion to have their ideas and designs realized. Here, Idenburg and Liu share with Contract magazine some insight into their recent successes and future plans.
1. How do you feel winning the 2010 Young Architects Award for your MoMA project positions you going forward? Has it opened doors that we’re not previously there before?
We obviously are very pleased that we have won the award. It’s one that comes with recognition and is uniquely New York. We’ve gotten a lot of attention in the architecture circle because of that. Now, I don’t have to explain who we are every time anymore. It has provided a positive and clear identity for us as a young office.
2. Where do draw your design inspirations from—a particular person, place, idea, etc.?
We try to be accurate in understanding our time and our own reaction to it, often more intuitive than rational. We then rigorously translate that into architectural intervention.
3. What has been your greatest accomplishment/success to date?
We set up our office two weeks before Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy. The mere fact that we were able to continue our exploration of new ideas in a depressed economical climate is the biggest success to us.
4. What do you find to be the biggest challenge(s) for young architects and designers today? How have you worked to overcome these challenges?
To continue to believe that what we do is relevant and instrumental for our times, despite the fact that the chances to realize them are very scarce.
5. Are you involved in social media and online communications? How important are these tools for your work?
We always try to be honest in communicating our work. This means revealing processes, frequent updates, and an openness for collaboration. However, this is not limited to virtual communication. As the virtual interface to facilitate such interaction has become more and more sophisticated, we focus on updating our physical interface to be more sensorial and indeterminate. We believe this is the role of architect today.
6. What advice can you give to other young designers/architects looking to make a name for themselves?
Have faith in yourself. And continue to have faith in yourself. It’s a long journey, better to enjoy the ride.
7. What class in design school was most beneficial to you in that the lessons still apply today?
Architectural education is like a cloud that constantly changes shape, direction, density and local. It’s hard to single out a certain moment. Nothing and everything applies today, as they evolve and transform.
8. What projects can we expect from SO-IL in the near future?
We have a few projects on the horizon, both near and farther down the line. A gallery building in Korea now is under construction, and we are installing a traveling pavilion for a design/art/fashion festival in China. In Europe, a restaurant pavilion in Amsterdam is in the works, and so is a student housing project in Greece. Here in New York, we are planning on a residential project in Brooklyn.