Vishaan Chakrabarti has amicably departed from SHoP Architects, where he was principal from 2012 to 2015, and has now launched a new firm, the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism.
“I turn 50 soon and I felt like I was at this fork in the road,” Chakrabarti says of starting PAU. “I want to engage with the city of the future and strategic urbanism.” The firm will tackle public-sector work, master plans, cultural and institutional projects, commercial office buildings, and transit-oriented development, but it won’t engage with single-family residential, interior design, or small-scale renovations.
According to Chakrabarti’s website:
PAU will advance groundbreaking architecture projects that build the physical, economic, social and cultural networks of our cities, with an emphasis on beauty, function, and user experience. We are particularly interested in projects that build cultural, institutional and social density.
Chakrabarti has championed density and how design can engage with social issues in his book, A Country of Cities, as a professor at Columbia University, and through his existing body of work at SHoP—like the Domino Sugar Factory and Talk Box. He views PAU as taking that thought process to the next step and making dense living great by exploring how architecture engages with the city.
“What happened in the late 20th century is architecture and urban planning really parted company,” Chakrabarti says. “Many architects struggle with making a good urban building and many planners struggle with thinking about the physicality of a city over its policy. There’s an opportunity here to think of both.”
While the firm is in its nascent stages—Chakrabarti is currently expanding his staff and views PAU as a startup—it already has high-profile clients on board, like the developer Two Trees and Sidewalk Labs, the Google-backed initiative that aims to fix broken cities.
“It’s about how technology could be used to make cities more innovative, attractive, and have a better quality of life,” Chakrabarti says.
We’re eager to see the results of this collaboration.