The architect’s mobility has transformed. Today, we are better-connected than ever before, extensively collaborating across disciplines to realize designs with innovative technologies and complex systems. As that reach has expanded, so, too, have the possibilities for new firms to tackle international work and partner with local architects.
Sharing expertise and experience, these emerging practices are demonstrating dramatic shifts within the profession. Firms no longer demand comprehensive capacity on every project. Offices can have a limited scope and provide fewer services: schematic design can be a standalone package, renderings done overseas, or construction administration handled by specialized strategists. These changes provide insight into the future of the profession and the new methods by which architecture can be constructed.
Embodying this evolution through practice, [RAW] Design is a mobile architectural firm operating at a global scale. Founded in 2009 by Rebekah and Adam Wagoner, the Kansan duo landed a number of commissions and consultant work immediately following their graduations. Starting on a ground-up construction in Wichita, Kansas, the pair has tackled many international projects in the last six years, including work in the Netherlands, Liberia, Mexico, and across the United States.
Completing both competitions and built work, the team also studied at prestigious graduate institutions during this period. Rebekah graduated in 2013 from the Delft University of Technology, while Adam finished up a two-year Master’s program at Yale just this year. Today, the duo are working for Tatiana Bilbao and practicing in Mexico City, Mexico.
Rebekah and Adam’s first major commission, Linkhaus, was created as a gourmet hot dog restaurant. Combining a drive thru, bar, and flexible central space, the design became a hybrid restaurant fusing destination dining, fast food, and a bar atmosphere. Involved in nearly every part of the design process, from schematics through to construction, the team was also able to work on graphics, fabrication, and furniture design.
RAW worked closely with the organization Clinic in a Can throughout the last five years to help repurpose shipping containers into health clinics that can be shipped worldwide. Created for both rural settings and disaster relief, the containers include all the necessary medical equipment and are ready to ship. Programmatically, the units can be customized to include space for emergency care, pharmacies, laboratories, and much more. Rebekah and Adam continue to act as design consultants, providing design options and visualizations for clients in various locations.
This renovation of the 1920s Renfro Hotel Building in Wichita involved rethinking deteriorated spaces that were being used for low-income housing. Working with Cathcart Architects, RAW proposed various new design elements, including circular stairs and interior “boxes” to create two-story work-live units. The new spaces were crafted with thoughtful detailing and provide residents generous amounts of light.
RAW was hired to help the ELWA Ministries Association (EMA) visualize the future development on their 137-acre property. Developing a comprehensive masterplan, RAW also spent time in Liberia living on the existing complex. The new proposal includes space for a radio station, residential complex, church, school, hospital, and community amphitheater.
One of RAW’s latest projects, this design proposal for a basilica in New Haven, Conn., explores a critique of the Catholic Church and its relationships between space and the notion of the sacred. Nominated for Yale’s 2015 Feldman Prize by Peter Eisenman, the proposal includes a mat building that surrounds sacred spaces, a scheme that reverses the clearly defined directionality and movement of a Catholic Basilica. The design advocates an interdependency between the church and the public.
Working again with developers from the Renfro project, LUX was designed as a renovation of a 1953 power building into an apartment complex. Recently completed, the new 170,000-square-foot renovation includes office space, an espresso bar, and high-end apartments. RAW worked through design development with El Dorado to create efficient units and multiple rooftops and balconies for communal outdoor space.
Today, Adam and Rebekah continue their work in Mexico City while pushing the boundaries between mobility, design, and contemporary practice. They will be relocating to Denver sometime next year. To learn more about RAW Design and its story, check out its website, here.