Curbed Groundbreakers 2015

Attention architecture lovers! We've selected eight firms that are making cutting-edge work as the winners of our first-ever Groundbreakers award. We profiled each firm and their work to show how they are changing the way the built world functions. #CurbedGB\
  1. Family New York
    Oana Stanescu and Dong-Ping Wong are co-founders of Family New York. Aside from designing a 50-foot-tall volcano—and accompanying moon-like disc—for Kanye West’s 2013-14 Yeezus tour, the partners are also part of the group behind +Pool, a plus-sign-shaped pool for New York City’s East River that doubles as a filtration system for the waterway, a project that raised over $300,000 on Kickstarter. Photo by Mark Wickens.
  2. Aamodt Plumb Architects
    Mette Aamodt and Andrew Plumb of Aamodt Plumb Architects take a holistic approach toward not just design, but their employees and clients as well: They offer clients a free guide for how to hire an architect, and employees at work 40-hour weeks, enjoy flex time, and receive retirement benefits, which is radical for the architecture industry. Photo by Simon Simard.
  3. El Dorado Inc.
    The three principals of El Dorado Inc—David Dowell, Doug Stockman, and Josh Shelton—constantly innovate during the design process, using the craft skills they’ve honed over the years at all scales of their work, including woodworking, light installation, and even steel fabrication. The firm uses materials both industrial (like corrugated steel) and refined (like polished wood) to challenge expectations of what a building should be made of. Photo by Barrett Emke.
  4. Bureau V
    Williamsburg-based firm Bureau V is led by principles Stella Lee, Laura Trevino, and Peter Zuspan. To say they are just architects is a bit of an understatement: their (insanely) diverse portfolio also includes furniture design, fashion, performance, graphic art, installation, and still more. “We’re supposed to know all this stuff to some degree to be able to create and shape it.” Photo by Mark Wickens.
  5. IwamotoScott Architecture
    The unique look the buildings and spaces that Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott of IwamotoScott Architecture design—many appear to be woven or knit together—are heavily influenced by the digital world. “We came of age at the same time as digital fabrication and advances in building technology,” Lisa Iwamoto says. “A lot of the materials in our work are viewed through a digital lens.” Photo by @BruceDamonte, courtesy IwamotoScott.
  6. Sarah Nordstrom and Jason Chmura
    Sarah Nordstrom and Jason Chmura are two leaders at KSS Architects. Every project the Princeton and Philadelphia-based firm takes on focuses on human relationships and building community—a mindset that merges seamlessly with the firm's philanthropic work. This creates a culture where helping the community isn't required, but it's basically automatic. "It was one of the reasons I came to the firm," says Chmura. Photo by Michael Persico.
  7. Jeffrey Sommers
    Chicago-based architect Jeffrey Sommers of Square Root Architecture + Design wants to revolutionize the way houses are built in Chicago through prefab construction. Not only did he design Chicago’s first prefab home, but Sommers believes the streamlined prefab construction process could impact the future of city planning. Photo by Debbie Carlos.
  8. Mass Design Group
    Alan Ricks and Michael Murphy are the co-founders of MASS Design Group. The partners of the Boston-based firm focus on projects that aim to improve communities in the developing world. The Ilima Primary School in the Congo, pictured here, was designed with the African Wildlife Foundation to create new educational and economic opportunities for residents. Photo via MASS Design Group.