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Alan Ricks: The Latest Architecture and News

How MASS Design Group’s Approach to Data Could Save the Architectural Profession

09:30 - 28 February, 2017

On Thursday, December 22nd, an email arrived in the inboxes of ArchDaily’s editors that made us sit up, shake off our holiday-induced lethargy, and take notice. MASS Design Group’s Year in Review email might initially have blended in with the many other holiday wishes and 2016 recaps we receive at that time of year—it recapped such highlights as Michael Murphy’s TED Talk in February or the launch of the first African Design Center—but it had one thing that we hadn’t seen from other firm’s years-in-review: detailed statistics about the firm’s achievements that year.

In recent decades, certain aspects of architecture have become increasingly open to scientific analysis, most notably when it comes to a building’s environmental impact. It’s no surprise, therefore, to see MASS Design Group’s claims that their work uses 74% less embodied carbon than typical building projects, or that 78% of their materials are sourced within 100 kilometers, but alongside these were some more unusual metrics: since it was founded, the firm has invested 88% of construction costs regionally, created 15,765 jobs, and in 2016 alone, their work served a total of 64,580 users. These numbers suggest a way of thinking about architecture that few have attempted before—a way that, if widely adopted, could fundamentally change the way architecture is practiced and evaluated. We spoke to MASS co-founder Alan Ricks to find out how these statistics are calculated, and what purpose they serve.

AD Interviews: Alan Ricks / MASS Design Group

15:01 - 2 May, 2016

In this video, ArchDaily interviews MASS Design Group co-founder Alan Ricks, who describes the firm’s working process and how the practice, with offices in Boston and Kigali, Rwanda, is intent on improving people's lives through architecture. The firm has established a fundamental process for creating structures, that according to Ricks "Have an obligation to catalyze and amplify the outcomes that are the core services delivered in our buildings.” Whether serving the fields of health, education, or housing, the firm’s modus operandi is public benefit. "[It’s] how we leverage the building process to expand the impact," says Ricks. "We’ve taken to the calling that lo-fab, or locally fabricated, it doesn’t mean lo-tech and it doesn’t mean not pre-fab. It just means we’ve uncovered the available resources where we work and are leveraging them to deliver value.” With clinics in Haiti, primary schools in Rwanda, and proposals for library and hospital projects in the United States, MASS Design has proven its ability to act in the realm of public good. The firm has previously been lauded by New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman, was named one of the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices in 2013, and was the winner of both the Zumtobel Group Award and Curry Stone Design Prize in 2012. Watch the video for more about this entrepreneurial design practice that is redefining what it means to be local, sustainable, and most importantly, for the community.