Working from a storefront in Scottsville, VA and a brownstone in Brooklyn, NY, Seth McDowell and Rychiee Espinosa founded mcdowellespinosa in 2010 with attention to the transformation of waste, excess, and the ordinary into new spatial and material realities. These investigations are explored at diverse scales and formats from the city to the object. The partnership produces a hybrid entity that is stimulated by the tensions between east/west, north/south, female/male, biological/artistic, clean/dirty, and technical/conceptual.
Authenticity does not study the rules governing the general recurrence of a periodic incident (the expected case) so much as study the games governing the special occurrence of an anomoly (the excepted case). Translating this statement to an architectural agenda, mcdowellespinosa pursues architecture as the exception to the general practice of “building.” Architecture is imagined as the moment when building becomes a manifestation of a particular person, culture or time and not merely the regurgitation of general, universal practices and principles. Our work challenges general assumptions of utility by fixating on the transformation of waste material, excessive routines, and ubiquitous forms. The objective is to create and celebrate the anomaly—that strange thing that returns no response from Google.
mcdowellespinosa has been recognized nationally and internationally by the Architectural League of New York, the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Museum of Modern Art in NYC, Pamphlet Architecture, the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Rychiee Espinosa is an educator and licensed architect in the State of New York. She has practiced architecture since 2004 in New York City, Los Angeles and Detroit within the offices of Steven Holl Architects, Bernard Tschumi Architects, MOrphosis Architects, and S3 Architecture. Espinosa is a co-founding partner of mcdowellespinosa.
Espinosa received a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in 2009, a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from Lawrence Technological University in 2006, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a focus in Kinesiology and Psychology from Indiana University in 2001. At GSAPP, she was awarded the New York Society of Architects' Matthew del Gaudio Award for Excellence in Total Design and the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize. Currently she is a Strauch Visiting Critic, focusing on issues of sustainability and environmental impact within the field of design at the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning. She is also an Associate Architect at Steven Holl Architects as the Project Architect for the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston in Houston, Texas and the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History's Visual Arts Building in Iowa City, Iowa.
Espinosa's research resides in material exploration, particularly through the reuse of ordinary materials via unconventional processes and techniques. The spatial outcomes are unexpected, challenging pre-existing notions of space. Her interest seeks to explore the sensorial and perceptual contexts and exploits the synthesis of traditional architectural systems and tools with emergent digital technologies.
Seth McDowell works as an experimental architect focusing on novel techniques for the visualization and construction of architecture. His designs, visualizations, exhibitions and writings focus on topics of misuse and adaptation in architecture. This work aims to challenge assumptions of inferiority, transiency, and utility through transforming material waste and ubiquitous objects into new spatial realities.
Within this topic McDowell’s work is concentrated on three interrelated areas of study: 1—Material misuse and the transformation of waste 2—Building Information Modeling (BIM) for abnormal buildings 3—Urban and Infrastructural adaptations
Seth McDowell has practiced architecture in Charleston, SC, and New York, NY within the offices of WORK Architecture Company, Huff+Gooden Architects, Leroy Street Studio, and LOT-EK. He is a co-founding partner of mcdowellespinosa.
McDowell is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia. He has also taught at Columbia University and Louisiana State University. He received a Master of Architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and a Bachelor of Science in Design from Clemson University. At Columbia, he was awarded the American Institute of Architects Certificate of Merit, the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize, and the Avery 6 Award for work that holds the most promise to advance the discipline of architecture.
McDowell’s writing on material and object re-contextualization in art and architecture has been published in STUDIO Architecture and Urbanism Magazine, Pataphysics Then & Now (forthcoming), New Architecture Assembly Magazine, ArchDaily, and presented at various national conferences. His letter for the book competition Dear Architecture was awarded honorable mention and is published in the book. McDowell is editor of the book Water Index: Design Strategies for Drought, Flooding and Contamination, an ACTAR / UVA publication, to be released in 2017.
McDowell is a licensed architect in the state of New York and serves on the Scottsville, Virginia Architectural Review Board.