Being on display for one night in an art museum opens up opportunities we don’t usually have. Art presents an opportunity for dialogue, unique expression, and visually wrestling with the questions trapped in our mind. For one night, we wanted to leave the space of precise measurements, client goals, and constructability and get speculative.

One of the signature events at the October After Hours at the Speed Art Museum was a conversation with Kulapat Yantrasast, the architect behind the Speed’s recent renovation. The American Institute of Architects: Kentucky invited local firms to display a model in the atrium to carry the night’s architectural focus.

We were eager to join the event and help showcase the incredible work coming out of Kentucky’s architecture scene. Design Director Nathan Smith quickly recruited newly-registered Architect Mark Thomas to decide what we would present.

The question we asked with our model, Cloud over the City, was how climate change will affect Louisville’s built environment. Louisville is well positioned with access to fresh water and a safe distance from the vanishing coastlines. This positioning could make us a popular alternative for climate refugees escaping hurricanes, forest fires, and more extreme temperatures.

Is Louisville ready for a large population boom? How much farther can we grow our suburbs before we decide to grow our city upward?

Our speculative model stood out in the Speed’s atrium. As the largest piece, encompassing a whole neighborhood and not just a single building, it was in the center. The questions we asked with our abstract had several guests talking and we were happy to see them pause and grapple, if only for a moment, with these big-picture questions about the built environment and our community. No one walked away with answers, but there’s much to be gained from wrestling with the questions like these in community.

To learn more about our speculative model and the purpose these models serve in architectural discourse, as well as some insights from Nathan, read Thinking in Architectural Models coming out next week.

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