Discipline: Architecture – text

Brandon Clifford

Discipline: Architecture – text
Region: Jamaica Plain, MA
MacDowell Fellowships: 2023

Brandon Clifford is a time-traveler who develops creative approaches to the world’s most pressing problems. He identifies contemporary blind-spots by mining ancient knowledge that holds resonance with topics of today. He is best known for bringing megalithic sculptures to life to perform tasks.

Clifford is a designer and researcher who has received recognition with prizes such as the American Academy in Rome Prize, a TED Fellowship, the SOM Prize, the Design Biennial Boston Award, and the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects & Designers. His most recent authored work, The Cannibal’s Cookbook, demonstrates his dedication to bringing ancient knowledge into contemporary practice with theatrical captivation.

Clifford is the director and co-founder of Matter Design and an associate professor at MIT. He received his M.Arch. from Princeton and his B.S. in architecture from Georgia Tech. He has served as the LeFevre Fellow at Ohio State University and the John G. Williams Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Arkansas.

His work at Matter Design is focused on re-directing architectural research through spectacle and mysticism by re-posing a series of ancient, but hauntingly relevant questions. For instance, could walking massive statues help us design for transportation and assembly? Is the key to recycling our building materials locked inside the cryptic walls suspected of being built by primordial giants? These ancient ways of thinking compound cultural significance, ceremony, and mythology with technical and methodological procedures that have the potential to resolve our contemporary problems. His speculative built works continue to disrupt common practices and challenge default solutions.

At MacDowell, Clifford wrote his book Colossus and the Cosmos, deciding to pivot the project from a non-fictional account of alternative origin stories for architecture into a fictional novel.



Brandon Clifford worked in the Schelling studio.

Marian MacDowell funded construction of this studio the year that the organization was established and the first artists arrived for residency. It was called Bark Studio until 1933, when it was renamed in honor of Ernest Schelling, a composer, pianist, and orchestral leader who served as president of what was then called the Edward MacDowell…

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