Could Be Design creates seriously playful spaces that initiate participation, companionship, and solidarity among multiple communities.

Directed by Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison, the Chicago- and Urbana-based design practice imagines the built environment as an animate being with agency of its own. From exuberant interiors to interactive public spaces, the practice positions architecture as an active character in the world, enacting a built environment full of vibrant color, shapely form, and intimate encounters. Could Be Design’s work has been exhibited at Miami Art Week, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Elmhurst Art Museum, and the Detroit Month of Design. In 2023, Could Be Design was named a contributor to the Chicago Architecture Biennial’s fifth edition, selected as a University Design Research Fellow at Exhibit Columbus, and named one of the six winners of the 2023 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, awarded by The Architectural League of New York. In 2022, Could Be Design was spotlighted in Metropolis magazine’s “New Talent” feature and named #15 in Newcity magazine’s Design 50: The Fifty People Who Shape Chicago. The practice was also featured in Architect magazine’s “Next Progressives” series. Follow our adventures on Instagram.

Could Be Design also publishes SOILED, an architectural literary magazine, and serves as the Artistic Director of the Chicago Sukkah Design Festival, a public art and architecture exhibition that includes multiple pavilion installations that celebrate cultural heritage, designed and built in partnership with community organizations in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

Principals




Design Collaborators – Past and Present:
Nekita Thomas, Nilay Mistry, Andrea Jablonski, Via Chicago, Cosmo Design Factory, Lizi Breit, Myles Emmons, Chelsea Ross, Darrell McKinney, Katanya Raby, Ladi Famodu, Latent Design, Matthew Harlan, Maya Bird-Murphy, and Norman Teague.

Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison

Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison are architectural designers, educators, curators, and writers. They offer over 20 years of experience working on residential, commercial, cultural, and civic projects. Joseph is Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture. Zack has taught at the University of Kentucky, and he was a masterclass teaching fellow at Lawrence Technological University. Their writing has been published widely in journals including Log, MAS Context, Pidgin, and Plat. Both partners hold Master of Architecture degrees from Rice University. Photo by Steven Koch.

Current Team Members:
Amir Zarei

Former Team Members:
Efrain Araujo, Lily Hernandez

Services

Could Be Design is a design practice, and we partner with licensed professionals when licensing services are required.

  • architectural design
  • interior design
  • landscape design
  • urban design
  • streetscape design
  • community branding
  • environmental graphics
  • creative placemaking
  • public space design
  • installation design
  • exhibition design
  • public art
  • furniture design
  • design workshops

Selected Press & Awards

05.03.2023 — The Architectural League of New York announces Could Be Design as one of six winners of the 2023 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers
03.10.2023 — Architect's Newspaper: "Exhibit Columbus’s 2023 Winter Presentations offered the public a chance to comment on the upcoming round of installations"
10.27.2022 — WBEZ: "What’s That Building? Sukkah Design Festival in North Lawndale"
9.30.2022 — Architect's Newspaper: "Chicago’s first-ever sukkah design festival seeks to do social good"
9.29.2022 — Architect: "Exhibit Columbus Names the Latest Miller Prize Recipients and University Design Research Fellows"
6.23.2022 — Metropolis: "Could Be Design Says Friendly Design Makes Us Kinder Humans"
3.07.2022 — Newcity: Could Be Design named #15 in "Design 50 2022: The Fifty People Who Shape Chicago"
2.09.2022 — Bloomberg CityLab: "Chicago’s Bungalows Are Where the City Comes Together"
2.03.2022 — Architecture with Stewart: "That Time the Sears Tower Had a Face"
10.15.2021 — AIA Chicago 2021 Design Excellence Awards: Roberta Feldman Architecture for Social Justice Award honorable mention
6.04.2021 — Chicago Tribune: "Op-ed: The Thompson Center: a retrospective from the future"
4.21.2021 — Ricker Report: Interview with Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison
9.22.2020 — "IU Northwest debuts pop-up art galleries in local communities"
9.18.2020 — Times of Northwest Indiana: "IUN's Mobile Arts + Action Community Lab to start popping up across Region"
7.03.2020 — Newcity: "Design Top 5: April 2020"
4.02.2020 — AN Interior: "Messing w/ Mies: installation riffs on Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House"
3.13.2020 — Newcity: "A Party Along the Parti: Could Be Design Transforms the McCormick House"
3.04.2020 — Architect magazine: "Next Progressives"
2.14.2020 — WDCB The Arts Section: "Elmhurst Art Museum Welcomes Could Be Design"
1.29.2020 — WGN News: "Around Town checks out the Elmhurst Art Museum"
10.09.2019 — Block Club Chicago: "Maxwell Street Market Celebration Marks Both Jewish New Year and the Impending Sukkot"
5.06.2019 — Chicago Architecture Club: "2018 Chicago Prize Winners"
4.21.2019 — Disruptive Design: "ADU: Alternative Domestic Utility" (with Ladipo Famodu, Katanya Raby, and Norman Teague)
3.22.2019 — Suckerpunch Daily: "Twisted Hippo"
11.17.2017 — Pulp #29: "Chicago: Interview with Joseph Altshuler"
8.23.2017 — Architect's Newspaper: "Architectural 'sideshow' to run alongside the Chicago Architecture Biennial"

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