Could Be Architecture

“It's important that we started our practice by writing a story, because it underscores our shared interest in the built environment being a kind of vessel of storytelling.”
Zack Morrison & Joseph Altshuler of Chicago based Could Be Architecture
Dinner Date: October 22, 2020
Location: ,

Dinner With Designers celebrated our first virtual dinner featuring Could Be Architecture principles Zack Morrison and Joseph Altshuler. Listen to the conversation below:

Based in Chicago, Zack and Joseph design seriously playful spaces, things, and happenings that celebrate what your world could be. They create buildings, interiors, installations, scenographies, exhibits, furniture, costumes, and publications. Joseph and Zack are practitioners and academics, equally invested in built pragmatics and speculative research. They position architecture as an active character in the world, enacting a future full of wonder, humor, color, and delight.

Although we couldn’t gather in our typical in-person format, we instead met in their virtual dining room, using custom designed Zoom backgrounds and physical props to transport ourselves into the designers’ very imaginations. The group of dinner guests joined us from all different time zones and even multiple countries, a new benefit to this virtual format! 

Zack and Joseph shared their personal histories which ultimately intersected in Houston, where they both attended Rice University’s graduate architecture program. Houston, a city that uniquely makes no provision for land zoning in its code, provided a rich and open-ended context for their earliest collaborations of spinning fairytales as an architectural medium. 

“We didn’t write the story with the intention of starting a practice. — by writing the story, we realized that we could actually turn this into a practice. There was a bigger project here that had things to deliver into the world.” 

Their professional partnership engages storytelling and community activation in their framing of an urban imaginary where friendly, inanimate objects as well as living inhabitants all play their part in the story of a city. We learned how they think and design and how color and play are common themes throughout their built works which include an energetic renovation of Albany Park’s Twisted Hippo gastropub and installations at the Elmhurst Art Museum and Miami Art Week, as well as other initiatives like architectural 5k tours and frequent contributions to Pidgin, MAS Context, and more.

“It’s important that we started a practice by writing a story, because it underscores our shared interest in the built environment being a kind of vessel of storytelling.  Our ambition, or the role that we aspire to as Architects is to amplify the narratives that the built environment already tells, as its own narrator.”