Built Ecologies: Architecture and Environment is a video series featuring prominent architects and thinkers doing innovative work on environmental and ecological topics. In each episode, the subjects are invited to define “architecture” and “environment,” producing a through-line between videos that otherwise capture a wide variety of practices and backgrounds. Available on MoMA’s YouTube channel and on moma.org, the videos draw viewers deeper into major recent topics around architecture and the environment.

Episode 3: Hawaiʻi Non-Linear

Our Built Ecologies video series continues with a look at Hawaiʻi Non-Linear, architects who are attempting to recover an Indigenous Honolulu. By dismantling the urban transformations Honolulu has undergone, architects Sean Connelly and Dominic Leong help to envision alternative futures for how this land could be used and, more importantly, for Hawaiians to reclaim these places for the practice of Indigenous knowledge. This process of reclamation includes sacred and cultural sites that are buried under current and former military forts in Diamond Head, Punchbowl Crater, and Fort DeRussy Beach.

Dominic Leong is a founding partner at Leong Leong, a New York–based architecture practice focused on the aesthetic, social, and ecological dimensions of design to address the pressing issues of our time. Leong Leong’s work ranges from exhibitions and product design to cultural spaces, civic buildings, social housing, and private residences. They have been recognized and supported by various international institutions, including the Guggenheim Museo Bilbao, the Architectural League of New York, and the American Institute of Architects. In 2014, Leong Leong designed the US Pavilion at the 14th La Biennale di Venezia. Notable projects include the Anita May Rosenstein Campus for the Los Angeles LGBT Center (2019), MoMA PS1 Courtyard Coalition in Queens, NY (2022), and Hancock Park Private Residence in Los Angeles, CA (2023). Leong is also cofounder, along with Sean Connelly, of Hawai’i Non-Linear a Honolulu-based nonprofit empowering Indigenous futures in the built environment through art and architecture. Together they have taught design studios at Columbia University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Leong’s most recent academic research has explored the future of contemporary art institutions and disability culture at the Cooper Union.

Sean Connelly is an artist in Honolulu, O‘ahu, where he/they were born and still lives and works. Connelly creates work that focuses on material, place, and time. They work primarily in sculpture, architecture, filmmaking, and experimental cartography. Through their work, Connelly smartly creates clarity around the physical and spiritual conditions of the built environment. They engage the built environment and its effects on their community to decolonize and address the traumas of settler colonialism, militarization, and US urbanism embedded physically in the environment in architecture and in everyday life. Through their own oral history and unique geo-perception of the built environment, Connelly aims to liberate the experiences that transform individual and collective responsibility into real sensation, cognition, spatial justice, mystic alignment, and intergenerational transfer. Connelly splits their time between Honolulu and New York, works globally, and acknowledges the creative and scholarly community of Hawai‘i as the biggest place on Earth. Professionally, Connelly operates under the imprint AFTEROCEANIC and directs a range of client-based and parainstitutional grassroots projects as a Pacific laboratory for applied theory and culture in design and built environments.

Episode 2: Joyce Hwang

For the last decade, Joyce Hwang has been on the research frontier of interspecies architecture. In this episode, Hwang shows us how wildlife can and should be integrated into, rather than excluded from, built structures. She shares her approach of avoiding short-term design goals that fail to consider the larger ecological impacts or unintended consequences that a built structure can have on other species. 

Joyce Hwang is an associate professor and the Director of Graduate Studies of Architecture at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York; and the founder of Ants of the Prairie. For over a decade, Hwang has been developing a series of projects that incorporate wildlife habitats into constructed environments. She is a recipient of the Exhibit Columbus University Research Design Fellowship (2020­–21), the Architectural League Emerging Voices Award (2014), the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship (2013), the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Independent Project Grant (2013, 2008), and the MacDowell Fellowship (2016, 2011). Her work has been exhibited at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Matadero Madrid, the Venice Architecture Biennale, and the Rotterdam International Architecture Biennale, among other venues. Hwang is a registered architect in New York State and has practiced professionally with offices in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Barcelona.

Episode 1: James Wines

James Wines’ career as an architect has involved the creation of decades’ worth of fantastical drawings—a trove of new ecological narratives that often run counter to mainstream, Western architectural discourses. This episode focuses on Wines’ drawings — technique, method, etc. — and case studies from the office he cofounded, SITE, revealing a singular vision in American architecture that puts ecology and the environment at the forefront.

James Wines is an artist, architectural designer, and founder (in 1970) of SITE, an environmental arts studio in New York. His buildings, landscapes, and public spaces are based on contextual commentary and integration with their surroundings. He is the author of De-Architecture (1987) and Green Architecture (2000) and has designed and built more than 150 projects in 11 countries. Wines are also the recipient of 25 professional honors, including the 2013 National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement and the 1995 Chrysler Award for Design Innovation. He is a retired professor of architecture at Penn State University. The main emphasis of his current creative work is an “economy of means” in the design and realization of public structures. He continues to write and lecture on environmental issues internationally.

This series was made possible through a generous gift from Emilio Ambasz. The Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment is a platform for fostering dialogue, promoting conversation, and facilitating research about the relationship between the built and natural environment, with the aim of making the interaction between architecture and ecology visible and accessible to the wider public while highlighting the urgent need for an ecological recalibration.