Abigail Coover, founder and director of Overlay Office has been building as an architectural designer and project manager in New York City, San Francisco and beyond for over 18 years. In 2020, she became a founding board member of Design Advocates, a network of designers collaborating on pro-bono efforts to serve the public good. Abigail received her Masters of Architecture from Yale. Along with Nathan Hume, Abigail is also a co-creator and editor of suckerPUNCHdaily.com, a website that reviews the work of contemporary artists, architects, and designers who offer the stunningly unexpected. Abigail has previously taught architectural design as a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and as a critic at the Yale School of Architecture. She is currently Adjunct Associate Professor at Pratt Institute School of Architecture.

 

“Sometimes someone indulges in absurd thoughts of rebellion against the perfect and eternal life granted to him” -Superstudio, First City: 2000-ton City, 1971

Recent undergraduate design studio work at Pratt Institute has found itself sitting at the crossroads between form, aesthetics and social engagement. Free-Time is a year-long directed research seminar and studio, co-taught with Michael Szivos, that examines the roles of work and leisure in near-future Manhattan. Through the lens of Thorsten Veblin’s definition of leisure as the “nonproductive consumption of time,” students investigate how formal and material experimentation can create new typologies that challenge the way its occupants use time and space and how architects can shape the space literally and figuratively. In the Neotenic Nests advanced studio, co-taught with Ajmal Aqtash, students worked to challenge the lines between private and public space by rethinking the role of nursing and caring for young children as something to be celebrated and not relegated to dusty corners. This studio took the specific formal agenda of the neotenic as a jumping off point for the development of spaces that exist at a scale between a piece of furniture and a room while simultaneously cultivating joy. The celebratory nature of the forms and programs of these projects serves as a reminder that architecture can simultaneously be serious and fun.