Cover art for podcast American Building

American Building

60 EpisodesProduced by Michael GravesWebsite

American Building, hosted by Atif Z. Qadir, Sponsored by Michael Graves & REDIST, shares how iconic buildings came to be from the perspective of their developers, investors, and designers. These innovators discuss on a deeply personal level what they faced over the course of the entire building proc… read more


47. The American Suburb | Kenneth Namkung of Monument Office

Today, I’m joined by Associate, Senior Project Architect, and Designer with NBBJ, Kenneth Namkung. When he’s not working in the NBBJ Healthcare+ Studio, he’s running Monument Office, his research and design firm. I invited Kenneth on to discuss Suburbanism, a concept design proposal for a civic installation in the Herald Square area of Manhattan. 

Kenneth details the inspiration behind Suburbanism and how he came up with the design. He wanted to highlight the transition that many New Yorkers make: growing up in the land of shopping malls and cul-de-sacs, and then moving to the big city for their post-grad career. Kenneth says that he felt inspired by that energy and sought to define the areas around the installation in order to emphasize what was not there anymore. He walks listeners through the installation and explains the research and design process that went into it. 

We discuss the history of the American suburb and the design language that is commonly associated with it. We get into some of the factors that resulted in the creation of the American suburb, such as the post-WWII endeavor to define the American lifestyle and differentiate it from immigrants living in cities, the growth of commuter rail roads, and redlining. I also ask Kenneth how he thinks towns outside of New York City have benefitted from the exodus due to the pandemic, and what those changes could look like long term. 

About the Guest:

Kenneth Namkung is the founder and designer at Monument Office, a research and design firm based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in the interplay between architecture, public space and memory. He is also an Associate, Senior Project Architect, and Designer with NBBJ in the Healthcare+ Studio. 

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Topics Covered:

  • Kenneth’s experience of living and studying in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville
  • What Kenneth learned from working under notable ‘starchitects’ 
  • His personal cultural connection to the Herald Square area 
  • The reasoning behind Kenneth’s use of wire mesh and scaffolding 
  • How the concept of ‘home’ is changing with millennials and Gen Z
  • How suburbs have changed over time, especially during the pandemic 

About Your Host

“Atif Qadir is the Founder & CEO of REDIST, a technology company making it easy for commercial real estate professionals to find and use the $100B of real estate incentives given out every year in the US.”

Resources and Links

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