May 2, 2019 Alumni Featured as Next Progressives in Architect Magazine

Erik Herrmann and Ashley Bigham
Photo credit: Julie Rae Powers

Alumni of our college have recently been featured in Architect magazine, the publication of the American Institute of Architects.  In the April 2019 issue, Ashley Bigham (B.Arch ’09) and Erik Herrmann (B.Arch ’07), founding principals of Outpost Office, were featured in the magazine’s series, Next Progressives.

“We’re very grateful and honored by the invitation to participate,” says Bigham.  “We think and hope that the editors identified in us a practice that’s starting to establish voice and has room to grow.”

Bigham explained that social media also likely played a role both in being chosen for the feature and to help expand their business.  “It’s exciting to be working at a time when we have direct access to new audiences for experimental architecture,” she said.  “We’ve been invited to lecture or give Skype talks in places as varied as Cincinnati, Ukraine and Iran because of the social media connections.”

Bigham and Herrmann met when they were students in the School of Architecture.  In fact, they were both working for Assoc. Professor Brian Ambroziak, who became one of their mentors.  “Brian and Katherine Ambroziak and many others helped shape our education,” Bigham said.  “Our studio experiences included teaching from young, emerging talent and established practitioners from Europe and local experts. You really can’t ask for more.”

“A big part of how Tennessee helped us also has to do with affordability,” Herrmann said.  “Due to the low tuition costs, academic scholarships and summer employment opportunities, we were fortunate to graduate from Tennessee debt-free. This gave us a lot of flexibility to take on fellowships and graduate-level work without worrying about compounding debts,” he said.  “We would never have taken many of the risks we’ve taken without the freedom UT offered us. We’re incredibly excited about the UT Promise program, and we’re proud UT is working to allay education costs.”

Following graduation from UT, both Bigham and Herrmann earned Master of Architecture degrees from Yale University.  Bigham later was awarded a Fulbright and studied architectural defense systems in Ukraine, and Herrmann was named a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.  Currently, they serve as assistant professors at The Ohio State University in addition to leading their successful firm, Outpost Office.

Design model of house by Erik Herrmann and Ashley Bigham
Photo credit: Francis Wu

The duo founded Outpost Office in 2013 with a mission statement that uses words like “experimental,” “absurd,” “unanticipated,” “hope” and “curiosity.”

“We think architecture is about more than solving problems,” Herrmann said.  “We like absurdity and the unanticipated because architecture should challenge preconceptions and offer new alternatives to the status quo. If you can’t have a sense of humor, you can get out of touch with how wonderful, weird and challenging it is to be an architect,” he said.

Bigham and Herrmann are advocates for the discipline of architecture.  As they describe in the Architect magazine article, they believe licensure is an urgent issue in the field.

“Architecture must become a more inclusive, open and welcoming discipline,” Bigham said.  “Licensure exams are expensive, time consuming and difficult to balance after time in school, so many outstanding designers never pursue it.”

“We’re inspired by the licensure-upon-graduation model that some schools have started to adopt, and we’d like to see more schools follow,” Herrmann added.  “We think this model is a simple way to eliminate some of the barriers standing in the way of a more inclusive field.”

Design by Erik Herrmann and Ashley Bigham
Photo credit: Matrix Lee

In addition to describing their advocacy for the profession, the article explains the origin of their firm’s name, which relates to their feeling “adrift” while living in Europe.  It also conveys and shows work from Outpost Office, including their first commissioned work, Safety Not Guaranteed, which was part of a fellowship exhibition at the University of Michigan.

Bigham and Herrmann visit Knoxville regularly.  In July, they will be speaking at the AIA of Tennessee 2019 Conference on Architecture in Knoxville as part of the Emerging Practices panel.

Read the full article about Ashley Bigham and Erik Herrmann and their firm, Outpost Office, in the April 2019 issue of Architect magazine.

See photo gallery for more images from Outpost Office.



Reschke and Lui Featured in Architect Magazine

Craig Reschke and Ann Lui were featured in both Architect magazine and on Archinect this year.  In January 2019, Reschke (B.Arch ‘08) and Lui were featured as Next Progressives in Architect magazine.  Reschke and Lui founded Future Firm in 2016.  A Chicago-based company, Future Firm “makes spaces—big and small—for people to come together in new ways” and celebrates things that are both forward-looking and stable.  After graduating from UT, Reschke earned a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design.  Lui earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell and a Master of Science in Architecture Studies from MIT.  Read more about this impressive partnership and their favorite projects, heroes and innovative work.  Additionally, read the story published by Archinect in April 2019.