In September I had the opportunity to visit Brian Phillips in Philadelphia. He is the founding principal and creative director of the architecture and research-focused firm ISA – Interface Studio Architects and a professor at the Weitzmann School of Design.
He is deeply inspired by and excited to be a part of Philadelphia’s burgeoning and vibrant development. His curiosity has led him to initiate research projects on aspects of the city that are unique to it, such as improving neighborhoods in very common blocks of row houses.
ISA’s projects often deal with specific housing issues, such as affordability, cohabitation, sustainability, and specific property formats and regulations. They are also involved in cultural endeavors like the Cherry Street Pier and public realm improvements, often as low-budget projects like Better Barriers.
Our conversation reflects on specific projects as well as broader questions about how to create valuable architecture and how public space is shaped and designed in cities across the United States.
Last year, together with other stakeholders, they founded an NGO called Meantime, which tries to activate underutilized street-facing commercial spaces and connect them with creatives and makers.