Yolande Daniels

Sept. 12, 2022

Totem House by studioSUMO

Totem House by studioSUMO is among the five prototypes designed by architects from across North America for the “Architecture at Home” exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. (Photo by Ironside Photography)

J. Yolande Daniels is co-founder of studioSUMO in Long Island City, New York, and is an associate professor in architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a 2022 John G. Williams Distinguished Visitor in Architecture.

Daniels will present a lecture at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, in Ken and Linda Sue Shollmier Hall, Room 250 of Vol Walker Hall, on the University of Arkansas campus, as part of the fall lecture series in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

Her practice, studioSUMO, is one of five architecture firms participating in the exhibition Architecture at Home, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. This outdoor architecture exhibition, located along the Orchard Trail on the museum’s grounds and anchored by R. Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, brings together five 500-square-foot prototypes for homes to spark a dialogue about contemporary housing.

In her lecture, “Minimal Dwelling | Dwelling Liminal,” Daniels will discuss how the work of studioSUMO in housing, education and the arts explores material innovation as a strategy to engage and reflect context as a socio-cultural-historical condition. The practice has realized projects in a range of cultural contexts, spanning the United States, Brazil and Japan. Building types include the arts, institutions and housing, and range in scale from objects to buildings to landscapes. These projects are informed by design research as well as client input.

Through academic and cultural building commissions in Japan, studioSUMO learned from the deep culture of making while also ‘unbuilding’ socio-cultural assumptions as a physical strategy. Museum projects for the arts of Africa and the African Diaspora actively engage art’s integration with everyday life, and the potential of the museum to become a community hub. Always present is a commitment to material invention.

A continued interest in minimal dwellings, in contexts that range from urban to rural, and types from domestic to institutional, constitutes an evolving body of research. These projects explore the capacity for the assembly of domestic components and spaces to propose new modes of construction and inhabitation. Components for living have taken multiple forms in their work, from found objects to speculative prefabricated consoles, and have proposed new construction ecologies that engage both high- and low-tech forms of production.

Adjacent to the proposals for dwelling, studioSUMO explores and re-animates historic domestic spaces. These works manifest negated presences and absent histories from individual dwellings to entire settlements where minimal living situations resulted from inequity.

Daniels is a recipient of the Rome Prize in Architecture and a fellow of the Independent Study Program of the Whitney American Museum of Art in studio practice and cultural studies. She received a B.S.Arch. from City College of New York and a M.Arch. from Columbia University.

Along with Sunil Bald, Daniels co-founded the architecture and design practice, studioSUMO in 1995. The approach of studioSUMO has developed in response to cultural, formal and spatial contexts through research and design projects in New York, Brazil and Japan, lending a geographic diversity that has foregrounded an approach to architecture as a device for engaging and understanding the richness and complexities of the built environment. The work of the practice has been characterized by projects that range in scale and type, from speculative installations to client-driven exhibition design, residential projects, and institutional buildings.

Both the practice and individual projects have been recognized for design excellence by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Japan National Design Council, German National Design Council, Chicago Athenaeum, AIA New York City Chapter, AIA New York State, the NY Architectural League Emerging Voices and League Prize, the Architectural Record Design Vanguard and the 12th, 14th, and 16th Venice Biennale Architecture Exhibitions.

The school is pursuing continuing education credits for this lecture through the American Institute of Architects.

This lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.