Rob Walker & Ellen Susan

Hypothetical Development Organization

New Orleans

2011 to present

The Hypothetical Development Organization is dedicated to a new form of built-environment storytelling. Founders – design writer Rob Walker, photographer Ellen Susan, and publisher G. K. Darby – commissioned architects, designers, and artists to take existing sites, often run-down, vacant buildings, and reimagine them as fantastic pieces of architecture. These fictions were rendered on 3-by-5-foot posters (modeled on conventional developer advertisements) and posted on ten locations in New Orleans, transforming each into a site of engagement, provocation, and imagination. Examples include the Museum of the Self, featuring a thumbs-up “like” icon as a marquee; a boutique maker of artisanal velvet ropes (because “boutiques and artisanal products signal exclusivity, and thus economic vitality”), and the Loitering Centre, a perfectly reasonable use for unused spaces.

Community, Economy, Pleasure, Sustainability
120 days
Problem - neglected buildings with blank futures
Solution - engaging and entertaining futures for unpopular structures