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2024 Rotch Finalist: Isabel Strauss


As an architectural designer and artist, Isabel uses collage and curation to explore both personal and national African American history through representations of home. Her work often references canonical artists, writers, and architects, and otherwise is made in close collaboration with her peers to challenge popular cultural and historical narratives. In addition to collage, she is also interested in questions of citation, de-skilling, seriality, chromophobia, chromophilia, and glitter. Her ongoing project, Architecture of Reparations, advocates for Reparations in the form of housing in Bronzeville, Chicago. This project was exhibited during the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial, The Available City, and at the Graham Foundation Madlener House, the Weinberg / Newton Gallery, EXPO Chicago, and Arc en Rêve Centre d'Architecture in 2021 and 2022. She currently works as a curatorial assistant at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, assisting in the curation of Architecture and Design. As a founding member of the small architectural design firm Riff Studio LLC, she recently finished the project Case Study House: Chicago with her colleagues, a project that builds on Architecture of Reparations; the research and development of this project was supported by The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. A window detail from Case Study House: Chicago is currently on view at the 2023 Biennale Archittetura, as part of the curator’s Special Projects, Guests from the Future.

View Isabel's Preliminary Entry

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Preliminary Competition Entry

Prada Showers
A network between tenants

Inspired by the secret world of Boston's "fashion mecca" hidden within a nondescript convenience store (the bodega) as well as the permanent sculptural art installation by artists Elmgreen & Dragset in Texas (Prada Marfa), "Prada Showers" is not a real store. "Prada Showers" is a network between tenants: the Prada Foundation, which supports a rotating artist residency on site, the artist in residence, who produces art objects to be put on display in the storefront gallery (only open for art shows at the culmination of each residency) and upper floor apartment residents, who share a lobby with the "Prada Showers" reception area.

View Isabel's Final Entry

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Final Competition Entry

Porous Things
Interweaving Boston Public Works with Boston public space

Inspired by the spirit of Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood's 1960s Fun Palace, a project designed, "to be erected on disused public land slated for redevelopment and intended to be dismantled after 10 years," Porous Things is designed as a "short term plaything" intended to activate the BPW site and to link the underutilized land to Boston’s South End and Southie.