“Nowness”: Re-Thinking the Metropolis

At Ware Malcomb, we have so many talented architects and designers.  Their creativity inspires us!
As a Master of Architecture student at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Agnieszka Szpara participated in CONNECT, a competition hosted by SOFA that challenges top design universities to create design environments incorporating seating, lighting, and objects.


“Nowness”: Re-Thinking the Metropolis
Illinois Institute of Technology 2014 CONNECT | SOFA Exhibition

By: Agnieszka Szpara, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Production Coordinator


AgnieMy involvement with the installation project started with an internal studio competition for concept design. Placing 2nd out of 48 proposals, I was selected to become one of the 4 head designers to redevelop the selected concept. Our focus was on re-thinking the metropolis, creating an installation that represents a public gathering space by embossing the ideas of modularity and customization of the automobile industry in Detroit to the currently abandoned Packard Plant.

The challenge was to provide a spot of tranquility within fast-paced, hectic surroundings, allowing individuals to escape into a peaceful space to momentarily rest. Seating elements were required to be versatile, accommodating a variety of rest positions and an assortment of users.

With help of my classmates, we designed, fabricated and assembled the installation at Navy Pier, Chicago for the public to experience in roughly three weeks. Unlike our competitors who had between 3-7 months to design and fabricate their instillations, my studio was notified weeks before the exhibition. We divided into several teams: chair design, configuration, canopy design, concept, media, fabrication, assembly and logistics. Although we had a limited time frame, each studio member went above and beyond the minimum, contributing to the great success of the instillation.

SOFA Paper Designs



Our final installation of custom seating and ceiling modules was a huge accomplishment. Even though IIT lost to University of Iowa during jury on Thursday morning—before opening to public—our installation proved to be the most successful out of the six, as crowds of people were able to utilized the space and seats. The intention for the installation design was to provide seating for the crowds visiting the SOFA exhibition, and our installation provided seating for up to 40 people. The feedback received was incredible from users as well as artists who exhibited their work, and we have received offers to purchase the installations which now are being considered.


For more information regarding the design process, please take a look at our installation booklet.


Szpara, Agnieszka- small







Agnieszka Szpara, LEED AP BD+C

Ware Malcomb Chicago
Senior Production Coordinator