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2019 Open Call

Staging Construction is a call for projects that explore construction as both a practice and a performance. Construction can seem a rather dry affair for a public installation. After all, logistics, staging, industry standards, and manual labor are not the seductive tools of design. Yet recent attention to participatory design processes, preoccupation with industrial readymades, satirization of DIY building culture, archeology of building sites, and competitions around demolition suggest that our cultural field is attending to these unseen endeavors intrinsic to the production of architecture.

Materials & Applications seeks proposals that investigate the act of construction as both an act of building and as a form of industry. Through its messy web of relations and procedures, construction practices draws architecture into the orbit of other systems, including labor practices, managerial models, governmental structures, and negotiated temporalities. Specifically, we are seeking projects that:

  • challenge the supremacy of architectural objects by prioritizing the performance of construction over or adjacent to its resulting artifacts

  • expand on construction procedures and instructions as an act of interpretation

  • highlight or redefine the specific cast of characters who contribute to the construction process, including city inspectors, permit officers, contractors, day laborers, etc.

  • index systems of material sourcing, management, regulation and labor systems

We are looking for projects that fall in line with the history of M&A’s production, including works that can be categorized as installations, temporary architecture, site-specific, and scenographic, and projects that aspire to be ambitious, well crafted, physically robust, intellectually risky, and materially unexpected.


This call is open to anyone interested in articulating a project around the topic of construction.

Submission Requirements

1) Letter of Interest (250 words)
2) Project Statement (250-500 words) 
3) Proposed Budget
4) Work Samples (10 images max, PDF) 

$50 Registration Fee. Send submissions with registration receipt to info [at] by deadline.

Our registration fee go directly towards compensation for artist/designers and to M&A programming, which is always free and open to the public. The fee helps sustain and support an alternative organization run by a volunteer staff, who devote limited time and resources promoting the work of young architects, designers and artists.


Monday, January 15, 2018, 11:59PM. 


M&A will provide $30,000 in funding for the selected project, which goes directly to material costs, fabrication, artist fees, travel and accommodations, and any additional programming envisioned by the selected team.  Additional funds may be contributed by in-kind donations, sponsorships, and additional grants sourced independently by the selected project team or in collaboration with M&A. Past project budgets typically range from $30,000 to $60,000 depending on the nature of the project, number of participants, and alignment of sponsorships and extra-institutional support (secured grants, research funds, etc). If the proposed project budget exceeds $30,000, please identify anticipated sources of additional funds.


Projects should take place in 2019. The precise dates or the project and its opening will depend on a number of factors, including M&A’s exhibitions/programming calendar and will be determined with the selected project team. 

The open call runs in three phases:

Phase 1: Open Call for Proposals (deadline January 15, 2018)
Phase 2: Three Finalists Selected (early March 2018)
Phase 3: Final Selection (May 2018)

Review Process and Criteria

Materials & Applications will select finalists based on the: 1) quality of the project as it relates to the brief; 2) past work of the artist(s); 3) feasibility of proposed construction and associated budget with the realization that many of our past projects were only possible with the spirit of risk-taking and experimentation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a registration fee? 

Our registration costs go directly towards compensation for artist/designer fees and to production and programming. The fee helps sustain and support an alternative organization run by part-time and volunteer staff, who devote limited time and resources developing projects to promote the work of young architects, designers and artists.

Should the projects be sited on the M&A grounds? Looking through past projects on the website it seems that all the projects are built on the same site. 

From 2003-2014, Materials & Applications was based in our Silver Lake courtyard. Today, our projects are itinerant and take place in landscapes, sites, and spaces throughout Los Angeles. 

Should we identify a site? May we consider other sites in LA? 

It is not necessary to define a site for your project. If the project is site-specific or if the location is necessary to the conceptualization, you are welcome to specify your desired location. 

Do you already have some spots for the project or should we consider it on an undefined place? We are wandering it because of the building process and the different consequences it has on a completely public, or semi-public, or private space.

M&A is committed to built, outdoor, public work. We prefer publicly accessible sites which activate the city, the street, or the landscape. These sites can be privately or publicly owned, but should be made open to the public from 10am to 10pm. 

Should the potential permanence of the project be a consideration?

We welcome proposals which can articulate a possible afterlife for the project, whether in the form of a re-installation or re-use of materials. In our experience, the complexity of recycling or re-installing an installation is a project unto itself, and the labor and budget of this activity should be factored into the proposal. 

Should we assume that a part of the budget will be allocated toward finding and securing a site? Or will the site be determined by M&A and us if the proposal is approved? 

The site and calendar of installation will be determined in collaboration with the selected team. Depending on the final proposal selected, M&A will help to secure the site. 

Should we orient our focus on the proposal's more conceptual/theoretical goals and leave the logistical aspects to be determined in process or in coordination with M&A? We are currently building a proposal that is more reliant on a theoretical and linguistic framework and not necessarily on a specific set of construction techniques, therefore the material resolution or outcome will be highly contingent upon whatever limits and resources M&A will offer.

The project statement should identify the aspects of construction you are engaging with, a possible or preferred format (installation with programmed performances, three week long building workshop etc), and the questions and ideas driving your work. We are seeking an ideas statement rather than a final design. However, a general outline of program format and a clear articulation of financial and logistical parameters will be helpful. 

How long do you anticipate the construction process taking? This will determine how much we allot for equipment rental, accommodation costs, etc. 

We prefer to keep installation / construction time on site to three or less. This does not include the time spent on design development. 

Should we include insurance costs or is that something your organization provides?

As a non profit organization, we are insured and will include the selected team as additionally insured. 

About Materials & Applications

M&A is a non-profit organization dedicated to producing a public culture of experimental architecture. Since 2003, M&A has produced more than 20 site-specific installations — each of them inscribed into the landscape of Los Angeles. We are a collaborative platform dedicated to cultivating conversation and collaboration between artists, architects, urban planners, civic leaders, scientists, and experts in related fields, in order to bring these exchanges into public dialogue and public space.

Annually, M&A produces two types of public programs: temporary outdoor installations and topical program clusters or event series through which to explore an issue or area of interest in greater depth. Our programs often involve many collaborators working together, developing ideas in dialogue to produce projects that align with our organization and its mission.

We like to begin projects starting from an idea and proceed from there. It is of special importance that we develop ideas jointly with our partners, and create dialogue between our organization, partnering artists or organizations, and our audience. We begin with an original idea, and proceed to develop this in sustained conversations about formats, event types, selection of artists and architect teams, financing, schedule and production.

We do not make financial contributions to projects that have already been planned. We are not a foundation or funding body. All our projects are not-for-profit and we aspire to present them for free. Very rarely, we will solicit donations as entry.

This open call text was authored by Laida Aguirre, Jia Gu and Zachary Porter, with contributions by the Contemporary Council of M&A (CCMA) and the M&A Board of Directors. Image Credit: Frank Gilbreth, Motion efficiency study, 1914, from the collections of National Museum of American History.

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