Merge Architects is an emerging architectural practice that innovates through making. Founded by Elizabeth Whittaker, the firm’s work uncovers and capitalizes on opportunities for invention in the ordinary, and in so doing, develops new methods of production that combine digital fabrication and the hand-made. Engaging multiple mediums and scales of craft, each investigation becomes an evolving site of meditation and invention, from image, to scale model, to mock-up, to building, to city. Merge Architects works closely with our clients as well as teams of fabricators, artists, craftsmen and engineers to produce an architecture that embraces the art of making within a larger agenda: to re-define the urban and social boundaries of the city.
An economy of means unites the office’s dual agendas of design through making and urban engagement. This economy of means manifests itself materially, where common wooden dowels, cotton straps, cable mesh, plywood, and industrial felt are deftly deployed to subvert expectation. The resulting spaces are defined by deep, richly tactile surfaces and the aggregation of finely crafted detail. An economy of means is also used programmatically to strategically engage each project’s urban context: social nodes, such as a café, gathering space, or residential balcony are inserted to make previously secluded interior spaces an extension of the urban fabric through use or transparency.
This process of material and urban research transcends scale, use, and context, allowing the work to address a wide range of programs, including multi-family residential, commercial, institutional, retail, furniture design, and graphics.
The work of Merge Architects has been widely published both nationally and internationally. The practice has received multiple awards including twelve American Institute of Architecture (AIA) / Boston Society of Architects (BSA) awards, a citation for the international Harbor Park Pavilion competition in Boston, second place for the new AIA/BSA Boston Headquarters, and a 2014 AIA/AAH Healthcare Design Award and 2013 Best of Year Award from Interior Design Magazine for the project Lightwell. Merge Architects was also recently named one of the “15 Young Firms to Watch” by Residential Architect magazine.
Elizabeth has served on the Boston Society of Architects/AIA Board of Directors and has been nominated for the National American Institute of Architects, Young Architect’s Award. She graduated from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design with Distinction where she received numerous awards during her graduate studies including the Core Studio Prize, the Faculty Design Award, and the John E. Thayer Award for overall academic achievement. Elizabeth approaches architecture as a discipline embedded in both practice and academia. She has taught design studios in several Architecture programs including Harvard University (GSD), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northeastern University, and the Boston Architectural College.
Elizabeth currently holds a faculty position as Assistant Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.