Posted on Jul 29, 2018

The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, web content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves.

This month, we were thrilled to join ASID at the Museum to attend Architecture & Design Community Night, a private reception to gather with fellow designers and explore the exhibition, Making Room: Housing for a Changing Americaan exhibition which runs through September 16, 2018. Organized with the Citizens Housing & Planning Council and presented in partnership with Resource Furniture and Clei, Making Room showcases innovative design solutions for meeting the evolving 21st-century needs of America’s diverse households.

Unprecedented shifts in both demographics and lifestyle have fundamentally transformed the idea of the American household. Today, approximately one-third of our households are single adults living alone, and the number of those who live with roommates, or in extended family situations, is on the rise. Our population is also aging rapidly and will need new housing options that can support aging-in-place with diminished physical or cognitive abilities. America’s housing supply, however, has been slow to respond to these extraordinary demographic shifts. While only 20% of American households are a nuclear family, our housing markets remain fixated on their needs. The disparity between the perceived and actual housing needs of our population is exacerbating the modern housing crisis—a factor few are talking about on the national level.

Making Room is a rallying cry for a wider menu of housing options. It showcases how architects, policymakers, developers, planners, and the general public can use design as an integral tool to meet housing needs. Presented with Resource Furniture and Clei, the exhibition’s centerpiece is a one-of-a-kind, full-scale home that embodies these ideas.

The Open House
Designed by Italian architect Pierluigi Colombo/Clei, a fully rendered 1,000-square-foot house has been installed directly in the exhibition’s galleries for visitors to experience and explore. Featuring a hyper-efficient layout, smart technologies, movable walls, and multifunctional furniture, the Open House demonstrates how a flexible space can meet the needs of a variety of today’s fastest-growing and underserved households.

To showcase how this flexible space can adapt to seamlessly accommodate three entirely different living arrangements—roommates, an extended family, and a retired couple—the interior furnishings are changed twice during the exhibition’s run. The roommates scenario displayed at the exhibition’s opening.

In addition to the Open House, the exhibition highlights cutting-edge projects that housing entrepreneurs (architects, designers, and allied housing advocates and policy makers) are taking to expand our housing options, including:

  • Micro-apartments in New York City
  • Shared housing experiments in the D.C. area
  • Backyard accessory cottages in Seattle
  • Tiny houses that are helping the formerly homeless in Austin
  • The boom in cohousing communities

“Households in the United States are changing, but housing supply and policy is not changing at the same pace,” said Chase W. Rynd, president and executive director of the National Building Museum. “Making Room offers the opportunity to explore innovative design solutions to meet evolving lifestyle needs in today’s society, both through case studies and with the full-scale Open House that we are constructing in our galleries.”

Care to support the National Building Museum’s efforts? Donate here.

The exhibition is generously supported by AARP FoundationAndersen CorporationHufcor; the American Society of Interior Designers FoundationAJ MadisonElectrolux, Elica, and MieleCeramics of ItalyDitto ResidentialNixon Peabody LLPWells Fargo Housing FoundationArris ApartmentsCasaplexErnest RustLISCProtekWiencek + Associates Architects + Planners DC, LLP; and CHPC partners: Curtis + Ginsberg ArchitectsDattner ArchitectsFXFOWLESLCE ArchitectsGF55 Partners, and RKTB.

In-kind support is provided by Resource Furniture and CleiAJ MadisonElectroluxElica, and MieleAndersen CorporationBenjamin Moore & Co.; Capitol ClosetsCasaplexCeramica VogueCeramics of ItalyDuravit USA, Inc.Eastbanc, Inc. Ernest RustGeberitGINGERGruppo RomaniHafeleHansgroheHufcorIn2GreenMAPEINeoscapeNewfloorNovità CommunicationsOpticosPrecision Door and HardwareProtek; and Vaghi.

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