Look Up Film Challenge Finalists

We are excited to introduce the Look Up Film Challenge Finalists. These talented teams will be in the running for the chance to win $3,000 in cash prizes and awards, including two roundtrip tickets to Austin, Texas, and film badges for the SXSW festival.

Find the teams, their locations, a short description of their films, and sneak peek photos below.


Mixed Plate Hawaii

Team: Kaoru Lovett, Graham Hart, and Ronald Ribao

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Architecture shares and is shaped by the culture of those around it in this film from Hawaii. The architecture is “not a melting pot, but a mixed plate,” influenced by all of the people around it.

Red Office

Team: Jeff Durkin, Dragan Radoicic

Location: Los Angeles, CA

A San Diego development studio run by architects sets itself apart by its unique design-first approach to architecture.

“The experience of working on the Look up Film challenge changed my perception of architecture by learning about how much work and passion goes into designing a building. It’s a lot like filmmaking in a way- if you do it right it feels so natural and organic that nobody ever thinks about how it’s made.”

Material People

Team: Nikki Richter, Galo Canizares, and Kyle Altman

Location: Boston, MA

The designers at Kennedy and Violich Architecture discuss the importance of materials and material science in architecture and design.

“[The Look Up Film Challenge] opened up the possibility of bringing in a social agenda to architecture. The more people see these kind of videos, the more aware they become of the built environment. This way, architecture is less of an intrinsic discipline and everyone gets to enjoy its complexity.”

Erik Mar: Designing for Progress

Team: Alex Amerri, Tony de Jesus, and Kenji Arai

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Architect Erik mar talks about how his practice, largely built around the design of public libraries, reflects long held beliefs about the responsibility architects have to the public.

“We decided to focus on libraries. Their accessibility is a true public good. Seeing as some would like to reduce that access, or even eliminate it altogether, it was important to show how crucial libraries are to our communities, and their mission is to our democracy.”

Architect Tim Boden

Team: Aric Spence, Rob Lindner, Tim Boden

Location: Sandpoint, Idaho

Tim Boden discusses the challenges and triumphs of practicing architecture in Sandpoint, Idaho, specifically highlighting a few important historical projects.

“Documentary filming techniques are slower and more subtle when shooting architecture. There is a different kind of freedom in capturing spaces with a camera, and not just being in them with a camera and capturing a detached subject. Capturing the character of a building by filming the unique features really made the structure another character in our overall story.”

Servant of Nature

Team: Patrick Shanahan, Robbie Opperman, JT Fritsch, and Frank Hammon

Location: North Carolina

Frank Harmon discusses North Carolina architecture, sustainability, and the importance of reflecting a location’s culture when designing a building.

“Each of us brought different things to the table in regards to architecture. There is structure in everything we do, even in art, whether it is admitted or not.  Architecture has a format.  Materials.  Earthly rules.  Same goes for film, however, when we begin to twist and bend those seemingly concrete realities, we find ourselves in a much more beautiful and forward thinking place.  That is what Frank Harmon’s architecture stands for and we wanted the film to share in that aesthetic.”

High Line Doc

Team: Cody Gardner, Max Warshaw, Jimmy McKeever

Location: New York, New York

Two Architecture and Urban Planning students at the University of Buffalo tour the innovative space of the New York City High Line, highlighting its community impact through preserving history and connecting the city’s community with nature.

Hometown Care: Designing Better for Rural Health

Team: James Lockwood, Matt Gerstner

Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota

The team behind the new Crossing Rivers Health facility discusses the impact that architecture and quality design has on helping people heal in rural communities.

“In the public domain, design gets shorted by people’s ability to interpret only what they see. Design is so much more than aesthetics, though. It is a story, and that lends architecture to be a great narrative for filmmaking – the weave of ideas, the paths down which you want to lead audiences, the emotions you want to elicit from them, the atmosphere you want to create. Filmmaking is the perfect medium for telling the story of design – creating color, texture and relationships. When pictures are used to talk architecture, the focus is on the end product. Through film, we can put a spotlight on the other elements of architecture, bringing to light the full life architecture embodies.”

My City Listens

Team: Soha Momeni, Andrew Jeric

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Soha Momeni describes the personified visual dialogue of Los Angeles as “an awakening of the city around us.”

“As a filmmaker, I have always been fond of architecture as it provides us with inspiration and unique playgrounds in which to tell our stories. Yet, during the making of “My City Listens” I came to realize that architecture is not merely an aspect of storytelling, it is storytelling unto itself. All around us, we are surrounded by design and purpose, buildings and objects that all have an individual story to tell. I realize now, that it is up to us to take a moment out of our busy lives, look up and listen to what our surroundings have to say. The rewards for doing so are innumerable.”

Rhythms of Facade

Team: Ishan Thakore

Location: New York, NY

Historic Preservationist Richard Southwick discusses the revitalization of historic landmarks in New York City, including Ellis Island, Grand Central Terminal, and the Apollo Theater.

“Trying to capture architecture on film was a much more visceral experience than I anticipated. For Grand Central, I tried to incorporate how busy it feels and how cavernous it sounds, because that shaped my perception of being there. Filming the atmosphere around buildings and architectural works mattered as much as filming the work itself.”

C2C R2

Team: Tibi Strazzera, Jessie Davis

Location: Boulder, CO

Architect Marcus Farr describes his specialized focus on opportunistic materiality through harvestable lumber and recycled plastics.

Colega Architects

Team: Karl Polverino, Weldon Brewster

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Bogdan Tomalevski and Tarek Abdel-Ghaffar talk about their long journey to become architects, as well as two of their favorite projects.

“Filmmaking and architecture are both visual arts. Homes with unique history are a cultural asset that can be handed down through the generations. #Colega partners Bogdan and Tarek hope to bring contemporary architecture to new areas where it doesn't exist. The collaboration of both architect and filmmaker is reflected in this film.”

Tulane City Center x APEX Youth Center

Team: Jose Cotto, John Coyle

Location: New Orleans, LA

The 2015 Public Interest Design Fellows worked with APEX Youth Center to design and build the Tulane City Center, focused on enhancing the experience of neighborhood youth who utilize the space.

“It was interesting to see how similar both mediums can be in process and how they can influence each other when being done simultaneously. Architecture has always told stories of the people who create & utilize spaces, so it was magical to bring one of those stories to life.”

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