Dredging for Ostia
We came to Rome as examiners of past and present strong cultural conditions as a means to create our work. This is a fundamental component of our practice, as we believe that in order to contribute to the making of place, it is important to understand and acknowledge the identifiable culture of that place. Because of where we practice (Louisiana), we are especially interested in the culture of place-making as it relates to (origin) geography, ecology, infrastructure, historical building, and constructed landscapes. We strive to find a way to contribute contemporarily to the continuation and development of identifiable culture.
So we bring these questions about how to practice in the contemporary world came from our work in southern Louisiana to Rome and we have found at Ostia an exemplary site to test the questions..
- How can a contemporary investigation be simultaneously respectful and critical of as many factors in place-making as possible? At Ostia one must be respectful of its history, development, and connection to geographical situation. One must be critical of its problematic contemporary position of suburban sprawl, in-effective land use, and disconnect with the geographical surroundings.
- What type of investigation can relevantly negotiate these unique environments toward the creation of a more vivid future? At Ostia one finds innumerable unique landscapes must incorporated to fulfill its potential of a more vivid future: ecological, cultural, agricultural, infrastructural, etc…
- Can an investigation, like the region, be simultaneously local and global? Ostia is local: its history, building typologies, land use are absolutely tied to its locality. Ostia is global: suburban sprawl, unplanned land use, ecological deterioration, etc…
- How can infrastructure be an active agent in place making? Ostia was founded through its relationship to infrastructure: port, etc. Now, Infrastructure is required for habitation to control the flooding, to clean the river, to make potable water, to create power, to produce food, to sustain the environment, to provide access, to distribute goods. We engage infrastructure critically to activate environments. Ostia once again is situated well to test this engagement.
emerymcclure architecture was founded in New York City in 1995 with partners Ursula Emery McClure and Michael A. McClure as a vehicle to explore the role of design as an active agent in social effect. Now based in Lafayette, Louisiana, the firm searches to find critical and relevant solutions through an experimental overlay and compressions of influences: social, political, historical, physical, poetic… One must always search for new and undiscovered vantage, or point of observations. The result of a composite understanding of vantage will always produce more relevant and responsible design than the application of a prescribed conceptual methodology. In Louisiana where culture and tradition are entrenched in the way habitation has been established and constructed, emerymcclure architecture practices to contribute to this rich and unique tradition.
The firm’s work and writings has been published in numerous journals and popular magazines including 306090-05, Architecture Record Online, Journal of Architectural Education, Dwell Magazine, and Southern Living Magazine. The 2006 Venice Biennale, Architectural Record, and the AIA have also recognized emerymcclure architecture with a number of awards and citations. Washington University in St. Louis, School of Architecture recognized the firm in 2002 by awarding its partners the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.
Ursula Emery McClure (1970, Toronto, ON), AIA, Leed AP, was raised in Charleston SC, Dallas TX, and South Bend IN. In addition to the firm, she currently is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at Louisiana State University where she serves as the upper level coordinator of the undergraduate program and holds the Emogene Pliner Professorship. She studied liberal arts at Washington University in St. Louis MO with a major in Architecture and a minor in History. She received a Masters in Architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, NYC. Before starting emerymcclure architecture with Michael, Ursula worked in New York for both Wendy Evans Joseph and Mitchell Giurgola Architects. She was a project manager and construction administrator for Mitchell Giurgola Architects on two large-scale urban schools on Staten Island, NY and the Manhattan Family Courts Building.
Michael A. McClure, RA (1969, Pryor, OK), founding partner of emerymcclure architecture, was raised in rural Pryor OK. In addition to the firm, he currently is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he coordinates the graduate program. He studied liberal arts at Washington University in St. Louis MO. He received a Masters in Architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, NYC. Before starting emerymcclure architecture with Ursula, Michael worked for Karen Bausman and Associates, Gluckman Mayner Architects, and Robert A.M. Stern.