Alumni Ryan Golenberg and Sean Canty Are Finalists in New York Young Architects Competition

Ryan Golenberg (left) and Sean CantyRyan Golenberg (left) and Sean Canty

Among the five finalists for the 2017 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program is a new collective cofounded by alumni Ryan Golenberg (BArch 2009) and Sean Canty (BArch 2010) and their colleague Stephanie Lin, Office of III

The competition is sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and MoMA PS1, an exhibition space for contemporary art in Queens. The winning architects, chosen in February 2017, will design a project to be installed in MoMA PS1’s courtyard next summer.

According to MoMA PS1’s website, “The Young Architects Program is committed to offering emerging architectural talent the opportunity to design and present innovative projects, challenging each year’s winners to develop creative designs for a temporary, outdoor installation that provides shade, seating, and water.

"The architects must also work within guidelines that address environmental issues, including sustainability and recycling.” 

Golenberg and Canty were interviewed for the spring 2016 issue of Glance, CCA’s magazine.


Ryan Golenberg & Sean Canty:
Collaborating on the Grid

by Leora Lutz (MFA Fine Arts 2014)


Ryan Golenberg (BArch 2009, at left) and Sean Canty (BArch 2010) have had a collaborative relationship since their time as peers at CCA, then continuing on to the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s MArch program.

Before attending grad school they worked together at the San Francisco-based firm IwamotoScott, where Canty completed the Bloomberg Tech Hub in 2015 as project designer.

Golenberg now works for Jensen Architects, where he is a member of the team that designed the Minnesota Street Project, a development in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood offering affordable space for artists and nonprofits that opened in March.

The friendship the two architects have formed over the years has made them strong colleagues. Their love of space and architecture shines through in their heady ideas about people and the way they interact with space and the environment.

Glance sat with them for a conversation about teaching, collaboration, and the nebulous facets of space that haunt and intrigue San Francisco’s architectural landscape.

What are some of the things that you like to bring to the classroom as collaborative teachers?

RG Because we have a long backstory of being fellow students both in undergrad and grad school, and in working together, we really focus on each other’s strengths. I think I might be a little weirder . . . [laughs]

SC I am more about focus. We have a nice balance. We are on the other side of it now (in terms of having been students here before), but also the course we taught is new -- it wasn’t offered when we were students. It’s a nice new skill to also be teaching. From our end, it’s a gain to put ourselves in the shoes of the student.

RG One of the great things about our experience here at CCA was the array of influences and so many different kinds of viewpoints that allow you to be very adaptive, and ask yourself, “What is valuable to me?”

When you are working on projects together, what is important about space and people moving through it?

RG It’s interesting to see how one can curate certain moments in a space.

SC I’m really interested in circulation, how people move through it and how it can be ordered. We have been working together on side project -- a conceptual studio discussion where we have been generating a formal logic for how space is shaped through the use of geometry and expanded modes of representation.

RG Yes, it’s a lot of healthy conversations about formalizing space. Very process-based, perhaps even removed from human scale. It is idea-based, about manipulating space on a set of preexisting conditions.

SC It’s mostly about the intersection between geometry, animate grids, and representation -- and yes, it’s scale-less.

RG The grid is a constraint to play off of. I am torn between the magic of the grid and it being a rational system, but it’s also freeing.

SC The process is at times methodical and very loose -– but always coming back to spatial complexity, also defying expectations, and finding a moment of discovery.

RG There is something really intriguing about creating a rational system and then allowing yourself to create a series of rules that seem uncanny and surprising. What happens in the space is still dependent on each individual.

There is always something that each individual brings to the arrangement. Yet all the while knowing that at some point you have to start injecting the reality of the situation that you are building for . . . it’s the art vs. the science of architecture.

Are we at a point where architecture students need to be really aware of what is available to them and pushing that as far as it can go?

SC Well, what’s great about the Bay Area is that it is a place about innovation, whether it is technology, apps, or other digital tools that might impact architecture and frame design discourse. When we teach we really value precedence, learning about history and the visuals that happened before.

RG [Despite new techniques and tools] there still needs to be a discourse with the things that come before you, so that you can contextualize them for the present.

Conditions in the Bay Area right now are interesting to me, such as the reuse of property -- making it new and for our time.

SC So as almost a default we are thinking a lot about interiors because we are working with existing structures -- and thinking of architecture as pieces, different architectural elements (such as stairs, atriums, corridors, courtyards, etc.) that can inhabit and give definition to an interior space.

Pieces of a puzzle?

SC Yes, when working with interiors the existing space is the context, so a strategy for dealing with this is more surgical, rather than totalizing. I find it super fascinating that the reality of the situation we are in makes the work we do more exciting.

RG Maybe that is where our obsession comes in! The reality of the world we are in has an existing framework, has an existing grid to work within.