Jon Lott, the principal of New York-based Para-Project, says he wants the firm's work to allure while raising questions.
"Ambiguity, distortion, and estrangement are essential tools for me," says the architect, who cofounded the practice months after graduating with his
M.Arch. from Harvard's Graduate School of Design in 2005.
For one of Para's first jobs, a small project in Syracuse, New York, where Lott taught until recently at Syracuse University's School of Architecture, the firm converted a 400-square-foot residential attic into a writing studio, inserting a large window opposite a bookcase lined with mirrored inserts to create the illusion that the space is open on both sides.
"I continued that experiment in a lot of other projects," says the architect, who routinely uses screens and various translucent and reflective materials to distort light and space.
In the fall, Lott
won a competition with fellow Vanguard winner William O'Brien and Michael Kubo to redesign the ground floor of the Van Alen Institute
, a nonprofit architecture organization in New York.
Lott formed Para eight years ago with Brian Price and Dominic Leong, two fellow graduates of the undergraduate architecture program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The name, Lott
maintains emphatically, does not connote parametric modeling.
Rather, it comes from the prefix para-, meaning "beyond," and refers in part to the firm's early days, when it worked mostly on theoretical projects before commissions started to trickle in. "I wanted the name to be as general as possible," Lott
says, adding that his
goal is to have a flexible practice and a name that suggests he
is amenable to a wide range of building types.
"It purposefully stands out," says Lott
PRINCIPAL: Jon Lott
EDUCATION: Harvard GSD, M.Arch., 2005; Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, B.Arch., 2003.
WORK HISTORY: OMA/REX, NYC, 2005/2008; New York City's Capital Projects Department, 2007