Catie Newell, Second Story.

Just a heads’ up that tomorrow night, Thursday June 23nd, architect and designer Catie Newell’s project Second Story will have its opening at Extension Gallery for Architecture here in Chicago. Our Detroit correspondent Sarah Margolis-Pineo will be posting an interview with Catie Newell in the next few days. Photographs of Newell’s project Salvaged Landscape caught my eye last year, and ever since I’ve been wanting to learn more about her practice and the innovative ways she helps us to re-think the existing urban environment.

Catie Newell, Salvaged Landscape. Detroit, MI.


Here’s some background on Newell’s Second Story project and its team; visit her website for more information on her work.

Amplifying, transporting, and distorting the volumes surrounding and within a contested existing domestic environment, Second Story reconfigures spaces that were once familiar into an “other” occupation and visual register. Used to imprint the space and excite the atmosphere, this inhabitable texture is driven by the manipulation of factory standard acrylic rods to capture, manipulate, and distort the existing volumes of the second story of Spencer’s Funeral home in Flint, Michigan, a house slated for demolition. Inherently transparent, the material both captures and permits the passing of light, visually distorting its presence and the view beyond, through refraction and reflection, altering both the context, the perception of its physical boundaries, and heightening the role of the building in the neighborhood. The work agitates, relocates, and makes accessible new volumes otherwise once unoccupiable: the exterior zone, the wall depth, and the depth of a windowsill. As a further technique of distortion and interplay of tectonic connection and assembly, the acrylic rods are systematically manipulated through the use of heat. One such technique allows for the bending and forming of components to create a pattern that resonates with its context, but also distorts the a priori relationships within the house to construct depth and volume originally unused or nonexistent. A further alteration is the tapering and pulling of the material, developing extensions and strands that flee in a near weightless in pursuit of space, altering the perception and depth they occupy. The otherness of Second Story is further heightened by suspending the piece above the ground by tethering it to the building’s roof trusses so that it hovers to promote a ephemeral sense of space, an attuned acknowledgement of its surrounding, and an implied stretched atmosphere.

Project Team:
Lauren Bebry
Chuck Newell
Katie Schenk
Grant Weaver
Lisa Sauve
Carolyn Newell
Maciej Kaczynski


Catie Newell, Second story.

Claudine Isé