Mary Otis Stevens (b.1928) is a pioneering American architect. Her architectural designs, along with the founding of i Press (1968-1978), an important publisher of books on architecture, urbanism, and social space, were linked to her ability to radically re-envision space and relationships. In the context of the Cold War and American political activism in the 1960s, her work, which were often in collaboration with her partner, fellow architect and i Press co-founder Thomas McNulty, revealed her foundational training in philosophy and her commitment to de-centralising hierarchies. Revisiting her work more than fifty years later, the themes of active citizen participation in government, integrated planning, and genuine risk-taking to make substantial change in people’s lives remain relevant and crucial means of incorporating a social context into the practice of architecture. On view is Mary’s sensitivity to variations, large and small, visible in her work as a publisher as well as her drawings and architectural designs. This research presentation also explores The Ideal Communist City, an i Press publication by Alexei Gutnov et al. from 1970 that offers a deep dive into a utopian proposition that “the new city is a world belonging to all and to each.”
In order to help introduce the i Press series on the human environment to a wide audience, NTU CCA Singapore, with series editors Ute Meta Bauer (Founding Director, NTU CCA and Professor, NTU ADM), James Graham (Director of Publications, Columbia University GSAPP), and Pelin Tan (2019-2020 Keith Haring Fellow in Art and Activism, Bard College), is currently working with i Press and Mary Otis Stevens to republish several original i Press books with revisions and commentary by contemporary theorists and practitioners.
Mary Otis Stevens. The i Press Series is curated by Dr Karin Oen, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes, NTU CCA Singapore
Chapter 8 of another i Press publication, World of Variation (1970), by Mary Otis Stevens and Thomas F. McNulty, titled “Mass Movement and Hesitations”, is available online here.
Download the brochure here.
Image: Mary Otis Stevens, early concept model for the Lincoln House, architecture expressed as wave motion, 1965.