Today, the Chicago-based nonprofit organization United States Artists (USA) announced the 2024 recipients of its annual fellowship program, who will each receive $50,000 in unrestricted cash awards. Founded in 2006 in response to severe budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts, USA’s flagship fellowship program has since distributed over $41 million to more than 850 artists and designers across the country. This year’s class of 50 fellows, chosen via a peer-led selection process, is based across 22 states and Puerto Rico and practice across a wide range of disciplines in the categories of architecture and design, craft, dance, film, media, music, theater and performance, traditional arts, visual art, and writing. The cohort includes five architecture and design fellows, as follows.
Photo © Nevill Simpson
Brooklyn, New York
Ebo, a Nigerian-American architect and planner, has dedicated her 20-year career to designing equitable public spaces throughout the world via leadership roles in urban design initiatives, funded by the New York City Mayor’s Office, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, and the United Nations. Ebo has overseen many New York–based equitable design efforts over the past decade, from developing guiding principles for the Department of Design & Construction, to shaping a wide range of public space initiatives, and planning affordable housing projects across the city. Ebo also runs Creative Urban Alchemy, an independent design and planning consultancy, and has served on advisory boards for H22 Smart City Initiative, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Association for Community Design. She is also a founding board member of the BlackSpace Urbanist Collective and currently teaches at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York.
Photo © Carlos Valencia
Martinez, a member of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, is co-founder and lead instructor for Design Empowerment Phoenix, a program that provides opportunities for youth and community to engage in design tools and processes. While receiving her masters in architecture at Arizona State University (ASU), Martinez worked on a range of projects with tribal nations through the ASU Indigenous Design Collaborative and Phoenix-based Tawaw Architecture Collective. Since graduating in 2020, she has led studios at the ASU Design School which integrated the use of 3D laser scanning and Indigenous desert design responses. Currently, Martinez is an architect-in-training at Native American–owned firm Childers Architect.
Photo © Nolis Anderson
Chicago native Bird-Murphy is a designer, educator, and the founder and executive director of Mobile Makers, an award-winning nonprofit organization bringing design and skill-building workshops to underrepresented communities in her hometown. A 2023 Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize finalist, she was selected by Theaster Gates and the Prada Group as an Experimental Design Lab awardee and received the Pierre Keller Prize at the Hublot Design Prize ceremony in London in 2022. Bird-Murphy is currently is a part-time faculty member at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Boston Architectural College.
Local children building, playing, and creating with custom shapes created by Mobile Makers. Photo courtesy Mobile Makers
Photo © Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
State College, Pennsylvania
As co-founder and principal of architecture studio Low Design Office, based in Ghana and Texas, Osseo-Asare has collaborated with thousands of young people in West Africa to deliver architectural innovation to people living in resource-constrained environments: reframing the micro-architectures of “kiosk culture” as urban infrastructure for resilience; experimenting with “bambots,” or bamboo architecture robots; and prototyping an open-source model of hybrid rural-urban development in the Niger Delta. In 2012, with Yasmine Abbas, he launched the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), a community-based project that empowers grassroots designers in Africa and beyond via the implementation of mobile “maker” stations in scrap yards—allowing local youth to reimagine waste as raw materials for creating.
Installation view of an AMP mobile "Spacecraft" at the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (2018). Photo by Tobias Wootton
AD–WO: Emanuel Admassu and Jen Wood
Photo © Rachel Hulin
New York City
Founded in 2015, art and architecture studio AD–WO is the collaboration between Ethiopian–born Admassu and Wood, who hails from Australia. Aiming to establish an operational terrain between architecture as content and container, their practice is committed to design that reimagines the socio-political contexts of building, with projects undertaken in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Germany, Italy, as well as across the U.S. Their installation at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, titled Ghebbi, explored the meaning and impact of bounded spaces as zones of contestation which are shaped by shifts in politics, culture, and economy.
“With this year’s cohort of USA Fellows, we are thrilled to support a group of artists who, in their diverse approaches and contexts, offer invaluable modes of healing, expression, and collaboration,” said USA president and CEO Judilee Reed. “Together, they invite us to join them in imagining endless possibilities for ourselves and our communities.”
Previous Architecture & Design Fellows include Nina Cooke John, Germane Barnes, SO — IL, Mabel O. Wilson, Kate Orff, Keller Easterling, Marlon Blackwell, Amanda Williams, and Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee.