Architecture is not neutral; it either hurts or heals. Architecture has the power to project its values far beyond the building’s walls and into the lives, the consciousness, of communities and people. To acknowledge that architecture has this kind of agency and power is to acknowledge that buildings, and the industry that erects them, are as accountable for social injustices as they are critical levers to improving the lives of the people who use them. Founding Principal and Executive Director of MASS Design Group, Michael Murphy, will showcase a series of recent projects that utilize the MASS practice model, and harness the power of architecture to wrestle with our most difficult truths, reveal hidden narratives of our social structure, and seek to reconstruct the systems that perpetuate injustice.
Michael Murphy is the Founding Principal and Executive Director of MASS Design Group, an architecture and design collective with offices in Boston, Kigali, and Poughkeepsie. As a designer, writer, and teacher, his work investigates the social and political consequences of the built world. Michael's research and writing advocates for a new empowerment that calls on architects to consider the power relationships of their design decisions, while simultaneously searching for beauty and meaning.
Since MASS's beginnings with the Butaro District Hospital in Rwanda, their portfolio of work has expanded to over a dozen countries and span the areas of healthcare, education, housing, urban development, and more recently, food systems, indigenous sovereignty, and the public monument.
Michael’s 2016 TED Talk invites viewers to question how architecture can be a tool for healing and the construction of dignity. To this end, MASS seeks partnerships and projects that examine our structural systems and how to reconstruct them through our built environment.
MASS’s work has been recognized and published widely. Most recently, MASS has been recognized as recipients of the 2018 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize, the 2018 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture, and the 2017 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture.
One of MASS’s most recent project, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery Alabama has been featured in over 400 publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and 60 Minutes. A recent architectural review by Mark Lamster of Dallas Morning News called the memorial,"the single greatest work of American architecture of the 21st century."
Michael is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, has taught at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, the Boston Architectural College, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In 2018, he was a Santa Fe Art Institute Equal Justice Resident.
Michael is from Poughkeepsie, NY, and holds a Master of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Chicago.